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While all Christians are called to a lifestyle that follows Jesus and His ways, becoming a small group leader tends to place us directly in the spotlight. As more members of the community look to us as examples of Christ-like behavior, we quickly discover how impactful our actions can be for the spiritual journeys of others. It is because of this that we take Romans 14:13-19 very seriously. While this certainly applies to our behavior in the home and at the workplace, our use of social media is not exempt from the scrutiny of this Scripture either.
Years ago, I would make it a habit to post heated and divisive content on social media. The resulting dialogue between me and my network would often become confrontational and stress-inducing. Since I would often be focused on typing up a rebuttal for the argument that was escalating on my feed, it impacted my ability to focus on work and time with family. After years of this behavior, many unfollowed me, unfriended me, and wrote me off as an individual not worth listening to. As the Lord got more of a hold over my heart, I began to realize the damage that I had been doing and I repented. Today’s social media landscape is now even more restless, and being in the middle of an election year creates additional layers of complexity. As we prepare for our small groups beginning in the fall, let us take a moment to navigate some key principles to consider as we small group leaders interact with others on social media.
What We Post
Today’s social feeds seem to be a raging battleground of warring political views and politically correct language. Yet if Jesus calls us to seek first the kingdom of God, what does our posted content look like? Does what we share breathe life into others and promote the principle of Matthew 6:33? Or does what we share include content that could be deemed as controversial by some of the individuals that follow us? While it is true that a small group leader has the freedom to share their personal views on a social media platform, we nevertheless embody the role as an ambassador of Christ once we become Christians. In other words, if we claim that we are a Christian, then other individuals who read our social media content will likely associate us and what we say with Jesus Christ. Regardless of our political affiliations (and Christ’s lack of political affiliation), our posts will inevitably be viewed as representative of Christianity and the larger Church. And with us being in the spotlight as a small group leader, this reality is amplified even more. In Romans 14:14-15, Paul may be referring to the eating of clean and unclean foods in his passage, but the same principle applies here as well: Those that perceive our posts as offensive will find it difficult to reconcile the principles of Christianity with an “ambassador of Christ” who appears to be offensive.
Who We Follow
Who we follow is more common knowledge than some may think. Sure, someone can look on our profile page to see who we follow, but social media platforms like Twitter have a way of bringing this knowledge to the forefront. For example, content may appear on our social media feed from individuals we do not follow. The reason for this is because someone else who we do follow, follows them. While social platforms may do this to innocently connect us with other individuals and businesses that may have a common interest, an unintended consequence can be that others will know who we follow, whether we’d like that information broadcasted or not.
What We “Like”
Similar to the above, the posts and content that we “like” or mark as “favorite” may show up on other individuals’ feeds as well (even if they do not follow the individual(s) who had posted the content we “liked”). Before clicking that heart underneath the post, let us be sure to ask if our followers would be interested in that content as well. Treat it like a retweet or a share, because it is possible that our actions will show up on others’ feeds, whether it was intended or not.
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