Be Careful What You Write and Say…..Posted on May 9th, 2012.
With the rise of social media, pastors and church employees have an increasingly public arena in which they can have their voices heard, whether it is through streaming sermon videos, podcasts or in written form through twitter, Facebook or blogging. Most often, pastors and churches utilize these forms of written social media as a means to reach a new generation with the Gospel. However, from time to time, social media has been utilized as a quick and easy way to vent frustration. And oftentimes, such frustration is focused on critics of the pastor or the church. A case involving First Baptist Church Jacksonville is a prime example of this type of scenario where a pastor’s public vent led to a legal headache for the church. The church’s senior pastor recently issued a public apology for publically name-calling a former member after discovering that the individual was responsible for authoring a blog that criticized the church and its leadership. Read more about that story here: http://www.abpnews.com/content/view/7282/53.
The moral of the story is this: be careful what you say. And be careful what you write. Words written as a tweet, on Facebook, or on a blog, last forever and once tweeted, written or blogged, cannot be taken back. Aside from having your church’s pastors and employees operate with integrity and according to the highest ethical and Biblical standards, you need to consider the legal impact of written words. Defamatory words are increasingly resulting in lawsuits filed against the church, pastors, employees and directors of the church corporation resulting in great cost—not only a financial cost but a cost in terms of a loss of trust within your congregation and community.
So, what can your church do to help prevent this type of scenario? Make sure that the church has adopted a social media policy and that all employees understand it and recognize the importance of it. In addition, make sure that your church maintains a written Christian Code of Conduct that informs all pastors, employees, directors, officers and volunteers that their life should at all times exemplify the church’s Biblical standards—and that standards applies even when using social media.