Okay, so I might not actually have the time, space, or energy to explain all of the ways in which Facebook is weird. Because, well, there’s a lot of them!
So really the title of this blog post should be “Pastor Explains – Facebook is a Weird Place…Particularly if you’re a pastor…Particularly if you are Friends with Some of your Members….It’s all Weird”.
But that doesn’t fit in the title box.
If you Google “pastors friends on Facebook”, you won’t be without reading material for a while. There are articles telling you the dos and don’ts of being a pastor on Facebook. What the rules are for pastors. What the pros and cons are of being on Facebook as a leader in the church.
And on, and on, and on.
Some of them are helpful. Some are not.
And truthfully, I have spent far more time than I think any one person needs to wondering about how to tackle ministry and social media as a person with a Facebook page. And so I too, have created a boring list of thoughts on being friends on Facebook.
Well, hopefully it’s not boring.
Hopefully it’s helpful, especially if you are thinking about connecting with your pastor (or me) on Facebook.
And disclaimer – not all pastors have these same thoughts on it. You can tell that just by the number of people writing about it. I know pastors who will not friend members. I know pastors who have separate accounts – one for their families and friends and one for church members. There’s so many ways to tackle this, and so here are mine!
So here is my “Pastor Explains: Being Friends on Facebook – 5 Thoughts”
I do actually want to be your friend! Like really.
Even with privacy settings, I believe Facebook is a mostly-public space, and so it makes sense that if you’re active on social media, we would be connected there too.
You might wonder then, why didn’t I add everyone from my church on Facebook as soon as I was called to a church? I do actually want to be your friend, but I won’t add you myself.
I don’t want to invade your space, or to make you feel like you should add me as a friend. The truth is, as a pastor, there is a power dynamic in my relationships with members.
It’s because of this power dynamic that I leave the choice up to my members. In the same way I won’t show up knocking at your door expecting you to let me in whether you like it or not, I won’t invade your online space either.
Comment on my stuff!
I’m not a big like-er or comment-er myself, but I do enjoy your thoughts, comments, and likes. It is a different way for us to connect, you might see photos of my family (particularly my baby daughter eating turkey!!), or links to things I want to share, or just prayers and thoughts that you might not hear from me otherwise.
And I do enjoy hearing from you too! I do ask that for the most part, tagging me in things or posting on my wall be limited or that you check with me first. Because my Facebook has friends from the whole spectrum of life in our world, I want to keep it mine.
Unfortunately, Facebook messenger is not the best way to get a hold of me.
I don’t check it very often, I mainly use it to ask my husband to bring me goldfish crackers when I’m playing video games. And it’s also my personal Facebook.
The nice thing though? I’m a pretty accessible person. Members have my cell phone number, and you can totally text me! My email is also on this website and pretty much everywhere, and it goes to my phone, so I get it pretty quickly. So don’t worry!
If you see a link that you just have to share with me, send it to me in an email! I’d love to read it!
If I’m no longer your pastor, things get a little complicated.
You might notice that I’m not liking or comment on your posts. Partly I don’t really like or comment much on anything anyway. But the truth is, there is a big complicated question about remaining friends with people who you once pastored.
It can take away from the relationship you might be building with your new pastor (or intern pastor), and I hope and pray for you to foster those relationships. I also recognize that in our day and age, to not know what’s going on in my life, to not be able to share in my future, could be more damaging.
We did have these relationships, these histories, and they do matter. And I hope you’ll make connections with your pastor. (and maybe add her on Facebook too!)
The world of social media is a weird place, but for the most part – it’s worth it.
Facebook is weird. It is, and we’re all learning how to navigate this new terrain together. And there is lots of grace to be had in our relationships there. Will someone occasionally make a comment that could be better left unsaid? Sure. Will I get a private message chain letter? Probably. And although it’s not perfect, I too recognize that we’re learning together, and I’ll try to uphold my part by sharing when boundaries are important. I hope you’ll do the same.
Because as weird and awkward as social media can be, it really is worth it. I have enjoyed being able to keep that connection with members from churches I previously worked at and my internship church. Although I don’t comment, I am so glad to see what’s going on in your lives.
I love talking about the photos of my daughter with members after they’ve seen them on Facebook. It has been getting to participate in Bethany’s social media through our Facebook page.
All this social media stuff is weird and complicated and does (and should) take time to figure out. But it’s a way for us to connect, and it’s not just on Facebook either. Even this blog post is an online way in which I get to connect with you, dear reader, in a way that I couldn’t before.
What are ways you have connected with others online? How have those connections been live-giving to you? Are there boundaries that you might need to be creating around your own online presence?