Where are the church social media policies?

also posted at the CENTURY Blog

The church is not known for responding quickly to cultural change. But really: almost seven years after Facebook launched, with thousands of pastors using Twitter, and NPR running stories on how Facebook and texting may break up marriages, I figured many churches, regional bodies and even denominations would have developed social media policies by now.

Yet a recent search turned up limited results:

  • The Episcopal Diocese of Connecticut has some social media guidelines.
  • Holy Trinity Catholic Church in Washington, D.C., shares its policy on its website.
  • Church Crunch has tips on how to make your own guidelines.
  • The last PC(USA) General Assembly enjoyed this policy.
  • A few bloggers have thought about such issues–David PickettBruce Reyes-Chow–and I shared my personal Facebook guidelines in a recent post here.

Maybe my search skills and personal contacts are more limited than I realize, but after a few days of searching I found a dearth of church social media policies. I expect the main reason is that policies like this often develop because of misuse and abuse, not before it. So, sadly, when sexual misconduct by pastors and others by way of social media becomes more common, the policies will follow.

Please tell me I’ve missed some policies. Has your church discussed the appropriate use of social media by pastors and youth leaders? What standards do you use? Bonus points for links to more policies.

image by liquene, some rights reserved

Comments

  1. Here is one that was released when a blog first started in 2004-05. However, they have now moved to Twitter for their blog/following. No longer using the long article posting blog. It still is a good representation for the bad and good things that some churches experience. http://www.leaveitbehind.com/home/2005/04/fellowship_chur.html.

  2. Thanks, Kim. That’s quite interesting. (And early–2005!) It’s very interesting that there just seems there’s a dearth of policies, but I’m not complaining either (except for the sake of researching them for my Communication studies).

  3. Does a web 2.0 church really need policies? Best practices and shared wisdom for sure, but policies seem antithetical to the spirit of this new way of being and doing church.

  4. I’m kind of with John on this one … Sort of. I agree that Web 2.0 has a different set of values than corporate America is used to seeing, one of which being flatness and transparency. In this light, a policy doesn’t make sense.

    However, I believe you need some sort of list of policies and procedures to point your people in the right place. For instance, a situation we faced in our church is who can create fan pages for ministries of the church? Is that a staff responsibility or a volunteer one? Does it vary? Can it change? What happens when a volunteer moves away? Etc.

    In those instances, I think it’s helpful to have a “how-to” in place, but not much more. If it helps, our social web policy is just over two pages. That’s it.

    Great discussion!

  5. Personally, I think a church’s social media policy should fit on an index card. If not smaller.

    Trust staff to use social media wisely, and encourage them to do so. If you can’t trust them to use it wisely, the problem is in the hire…not the lack of a policy.

    Just my 2 cents.

  6. We didn’t want to create a rule-set for our staff, but more guardrails on how to make the most out of social media platforms. We wanted it to be short and rememberable. You can check ours out here: http://bit.ly/alBtUo

    I do believe that it is important to discuss this stuff with our congregations. I’ll be talking about this subject to our 20somethings tomorrow night.

    Thanks for bringing up the topic!

  7. Found this out of the Associated Press about social media in churches. It’s an extreme policy, but a policy nonetheless: http://www.ajc.com/news/nation-world/rev-to-nj-church-744403.html

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