Rethinking Your Social Media Use

social mediaHow do you use social media in your ministry?

There’s no such thing as privacy. At least not online.

For all the energy that has been spent trying to protect our privacy, the reality is that everything that I do online is recorded somewhere somehow. If someone really wanted to get access to my Facebook photos or my internet browsing history, they can get it.

That begs the question how I might use online technology in my ministry if there is no guarantee of privacy.

It’s only partly about me. It’s also about those that I am ministering to using these online tools. I want to not only protect myself, but protect those I minister to.

Can I really trust using online technology in my ministry?


Lately, I’ve been reading more and more about how social media can help with building your platform. This is true if you are trying to build a personal brand, a corporate brand, or even a church ministry.

I agree. Social media and technology can be really helpful. And there is a plethora to choose from. Twitter, Facebook, Instagram, Google+, Pinterest, LinkedIn, MyFitnessPal, YouTube, Vimeo, online video games, websites, blogs, podcasts, etc… When used appropriately, they work well to reach out to the audience that you are trying to serve in ministry.

One of the challenges of social media is that it has come on so quickly, the policies change rapidly, and social media sites have come and gone in the blink of an eye (remember Friendster?).

The church has had a difficult time creating solid guidelines on how to use these tools. Whenever you create social media guidelines, there are 3 principles that should drive any policy:

  1. It should protect those you minister to, especially if they happen to be minors (under 18 years old).
  2. It should protect you as the minister.
  3. It should protect the church as an institution.

So what are some good guidelines to keep in mind when using social media in your ministry?

  • Create a Facebook Page that is separate from your personal profile.
  • Any social media sites used by a ministry (like a Facebook page or a Twitter handle) are the property of the church that is leading that ministry.
  • Always ask permission from your pastor/leader before setting up new social media tools for your ministry. Give your pastor/leader the password to all sites.
  • Be selective and control the administrators of any social media site you have for your ministry.
  • Post only group pictures, not photos of individuals.
  • Do not tag or label anyone in pictures that you post.
  • Create a photography/video consent form for members of your ministry to sign to give you permission to use their image.
  • While anyone you minister to might be on the phone or texting late into evening hours, set and communicate the time frame when it is acceptable to make or receive non-emergency professional calls.
  • Maintain a separate e-mail account for your professional communication and only use this account when communicating with members of your ministry.
  • Be cautious whom you give your personal cell phone number to.
  • Don’t friend everyone that wants to become your friend on Facebook (or other social media sites).

These are just a few guidelines that I have instituted in my own ministry or have seen instituted elsewhere.

Question: What other guidelines might you add to the list above?

John Rinaldo

As the Business Manager at St. Catherine Catholic Church in Morgan Hill, CA, Dr. John Rinaldo serves as the administrator over operations and finances for the parish in support of all parish ministries. Previously, John served as the Director of Youth and Young Adult Ministry for the Diocese of San Jose, empowering parish communities to minister to the needs of youth and young adults. John is also an adjunct professor at Santa Clara University teaching pastoral ministry courses to graduate students.

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