Social media and the internet are potentially powerful tools for ministry. They can connect people that otherwise would never have the opportunity to connect. They can help us, as ministry leaders, to build a network of like-minded people from all over the world. This network can be valuable beyond measure in helping us to become the best leaders possible. It can help us to take our ministries to levels that we could never even imagine. However, there is an inherent danger that exists with social media and the internet, the pursuit of FAME. The danger can be that our activity on social media and other internet venues becomes more about us than about our ministry or our Lord. We have to ask ourselves, “Am I networking or building my fan base?”
It’s a great questions, but how do we know if we have lost our focus on what is important? Go back and review the past couple weeks or months of your posts on Facebook, Twitter, your blog and other outlets. As you review these recent posts ask yourself these questions:
- Is it about you? Do you find that many of these posts are talking about YOU? Are you talking a lot about what YOUR doing, about YOUR latest project, or YOUR latest success? If you find that many of them are self promoting, then you need to reconsider where your heart is. You may, as I have done, try to justify this self-promotion by saying that you are simply asking people for prayers. While that seems to be super spiritual and may seem like a great idea, the truth is you (and me) are probably just trying to tell as many people as possible about what you are working on. Prayer is important and I encourage you to have people praying for you and for what God is doing in your life, but the truth is there are probably only a relative handful of people that your connected with on social media that you have an actual relationship with. Reach out to those few people and ask for their prayers. I’m not saying you can never use social media to reach out for prayer, but if you are regularly asking for prayer for your latest project via social media, it may be self promotion that you are after, and not prayers. Examine your heart before you post.
- Are you helping others? Are your posts focused at helping others? Do you ask for more help that you offer? You may think that you don’t have as much to offer as the people you follow on social media. Trust me, the problems that you think are uniquely yours aren’t. I recently wrote a series of posts about my struggle with anxiety. After posting one about having a full blown panic attack I had a coworker that I didn’t even know read my blog tell me that she read this post and her first thought was, “I’m not the only one.” You never know who around you needs to hear about your struggles, and not just your successes.
- Are you interacting with people? The greatest thing about social media is that it can connect people who would never be able to connect otherwise. I have people that I count as friends from all over the US, at least one in Canada and a couple in Australia. Only through the internet is this even possible. But, what are you doing with these connections? When you are on social media do you interact with people? Do you have conversations with people? Do you respond to peoples posts? Do you offer encouragement when it is needed? Do you try to make people laugh? Or do you simple use social media to point people to your latest blog post or other project?
- What is your GOAL with social media? This may be the toughest question on here because it requires self examination and honesty with one’s self. This kind of honesty is never easy. Take a few minutes and really think about why you post what you post. Are you truly trying to help people or do you want people to see you and see (and say) what a great job your doing? Try to be as honest as possible with yourself about this. If you aren’t certain that your motivations are pure, take a break from social media for a while and see how it makes you feel.
As with many of the posts I write this one has as much to do with me as it does with you. I was recently struck by this very question, “Am I networking or building my fan base?” I think that for most of us the motivation starts out pure. However, it can be really easy to lose focus. I think that this question is one we need to ask ourselves on a regular basis. This is true not only of our social media and internet presence, but also within our ministry. When I led worship at my church I had to often remind myself that I was not up there so the people could hear me sing. This was not a concert, but a worship service. I was up there to help facilitate worship during the service. This made me a better worship leader and made the worship services better. A similar examination of your social media and internet practices will help to make you better at what you do as well.