Social Media is the new catch phrase in today’s ministry. But I believe there will (if not already) be opportunities for a Pastor of Social & Digital Communications. But how about in the context of student ministry?
The Ontario College of Teachers issued a controversial advisory for teacher covering the use of social media (such as Facebook and Twitter) in relation to students. However, in ministry I believe some of the cautions should be a bit relaxed.
Some of the advice is obvious. “As a digital citizen, model the behavior you expect to see online from your students.” Who could argue? Other advice is more controversial. For instance:
- Avoid exchanging private texts, phone numbers, personal e-mail addresses or photos of a personal nature with students. I agree. However, set up a Text Service such as Txt Signal. A service I use weekly that keeps all the texts from me and to me on a server.
- Decline student-initiated “friend” requests and do not issue “friend” requests to students. I disagree somewhat, here’s why. Facebook is thier realm. I am a firm believer that as a leader, we need to adapt a bit to their world. Here are my rules when it comes to using Facebook and ministry:
- If they’re a visitor, look them up on Facebook and send a message stating you were glad to meet them. (I have a connection card asking if they’re on FB.
- If they come back after a few weeks, I believe it’s o.k. to friend request them. Think of it as going to “their school”. Don’t be hurt or discouraged if they reject you, more often they’ll give you limited access.
- If they are new and friend request you…by all means ACCEPT IT. But use your best judgement.
- Keep on-line chat to a minimum. Answer questions, but don’t dialog over chat.
If you have a Facebook page or a twitter account for your ministry, do you monitor it? I just went through our Facebook page and banned about 5 people from it. When is the last time you “cleaned up” your accounts?