Part of your social media strategy should include the use of a social media policy. This can be a controversial move for many people, but it can be incredibly useful to not only protect the church, but also to help align everyone with your mission. And more importantly, align the public’s perception with your vision and goals.
A social media policy is a written document of guidelines and policies that can either be suggested or enforced, depending on what is needed and acceptable within your organization.
Typically this is a document that would be placed into an employee manual, or included in on-boarding training for staff and volunteers.
It’s simply a document of written guidelines suggesting how to act and interact with people on social media, so that your church is always seen in the best possible light. Everything we say or do (or don’t say and don’t do) is PR. It all adds to the overall perception that people have of us as a person, of us as Christians, and by extension, how they feel about the church you represent.
The most common objection I hear to social media policies like this is that your employer, even a church, can’t control what I do or post on my own personal channels or on my own personal time. First Amendment rights and all that. While that’s legally true (it’s actually a gray area, but I’m no lawyer), it doesn’t mean the church can’t provide some direction on what the best biblical behavior should be.
It’s also good for a church, or any employer, to set exceptions in writing so everyone is on the same page. They may not be able to control what you post, but they certainly can fire you if what you post is shining a bad light on the church or dividing people from the core message.
Hopefully working for your church isn’t just a job for you. I don’t know why anyone would choose to work at a church just to check a job off their list. Certainly the stress and lack of income isn’t worth it. If you just want a low paying, low reward job, you can find that anywhere.
If you work for a church it’s likely because you believe enough in the mission of the church to sacrifice things like time, status, money, and most likely the way you present yourself publicly through things like social media.
Your social media policy can be simple or extensive, but it should align with your church’s style and culture as well as your biblical beliefs and overall mission. The idea isn’t to control your people and what they say, but to provide them a guide to represent the church and Jesus well. Most of it should be pretty common sense.
We’ve created a rock-solid Social Media Policy that you may copy and use to develop your own. Take what you want from it, or use it as is.
If it matters, know that this social media policy has been reviewed by competent and licensed attorneys. This specific wording is currently being used by dozens of churches already.
However, I’m not a lawyer and make no guarantees. It would be wise to have your own counsel as well as your own HR department review and approve the final version you use.