Gloria Gadsden, from East Stroudsburg, Pennsylvania, was temporarily suspended that same year for posting, “Does anyone know where I can find a discreet hit man? Yes, it’s been that kind of day” and “had a good day today, DIDN’T want to kill even one student :-). Now Friday was a different story.” Gadsden thought the posts would only be viewable by her family and friends-but one of her students saw the post and reported it.
Do an online search for “social media blunders,” and you’ll find a slew of examples of major slip-ups-often resulting in legal calamity. People everywhere-including the courts-are still figuring out the rules of the social media game. Unfortunately, not understanding the basic rules can get a person into seriously hot water.
Social media isn’t a bad thing; it’s a vital tool for the church to use as it builds and cares for its 21st-century community. Through Facebook and Twitter I now know more about the families in my church than I was ever able to know in the past. I know when kids are sick, when a pet died, and when the team won the baseball game. This information connects us-I get to share in these experiences. I’ve stepped outside the church building and into their homes. That’s the power of social media.
Your church or ministry likely has a Facebook page or Twitter profile. Many churches have social media pages for individual ministries. In most cases, the responsibility for the children’s ministry’s social media is in the hands of the children’s minister.
There are pitfalls in social media that can have legal ramifications for your children’s ministry. Other risks may include damaging your church or ministry’s name in your community. We can’t hide from the dangers related to social media, but we can be wise about how we use it. Jesus’ words in Matthew 10:16 are a good motto: “Look, I am sending you out as sheep among wolves. So be as shrewd as snakes and harmless as doves.”
It’s critical that you and your team understand the following four major social media pitfalls that can trap your ministry. Study these carefully with your team-along with the tips for creating effective practices to increase your effectiveness while safeguarding your ministry.