There is no doubt is my mind that the phrase of the year for 2020 will be “social distancing.” The efforts taken to stop the spread of COVID-19 have changed almost every facet of life and has caused us to look for different ways to interact with each other.

Social distancing endeavors have led to a significantly increased utilization of social media to stay connected, and it has thrilled my heart to see social media filled with messages of encouragement and hope. Many pastors and churches are using social media not only to stay connected with their flocks but also to share the Gospel in a broader way than ever before.

There is a great potential where social distancing and social media intersect, but there are also some pitfalls. Sadly, I have watched people hurt their reputation and hinder their witness in their social media interactions. This has caused me to develop some principles and pointers for social media interaction that I try to follow.

Here are my principles:

It is not a requirement to react or respond to everything on social media.

I have started calling Prov. 12:23 the social media passage. It says in the CSB, “A shrewd person conceals knowledge, but a foolish heart publicizes stupidity.” Sadly, I have found that when I react or respond to things in this nature it comes back on me. Discretion is often the better part of valor.

Remember that anything said or shared will be shared or seen again.

I have learned this applies to not only to the content but also to the person who shares it. Even in true innocence, you can become attached to something or someone that you have no intention of supporting. This has caused me to pause before sending or sharing, and it has protected me on more than one occasion

Remember that anything said or shared reflects not only me but also on Oklahoma Baptists and ultimately my Lord and Savior.

Almost every day of the week, I wear something that says Oklahoma Baptists, Falls Creek or CrossTimbers. The majority of the things I say or share are in some way related to the ministry role in which I serve. I learned years ago, as a pastor, that I always represent the church/ministry in which I serve. More importantly, as a disciple of Jesus Christ, I always reflect on my Lord. I do not want to say or share anything that casts a negative light on Him.

Here are a few pointers:

Share and support what is good and godly.

Social media provides us with a great opportunity, especially in this season, for encouragement through our interactions. It provides us a widespread outlet to share a Gospel witness and point people to resources that strengthen their faith.

Engage with others in order to encourage and edify.

Sadly, social media is filled with people who profess to be Christ-followers but are known for their contention and conflict. I have been encouraged to see the tone soften on social media in recent days and pray it will continue even past this crisis. I try to ask this question of all I say or share: Will this encourage others and edify the body of Christ?

Remember that a lost and unchurched world is watching.

Jesus said that all men would know we are His disciples by our love for one another. I fear, at times, that the world today knows us more for our arguments on social media rather than our love. Recent days have reminded us in a fresh way that social media is a great avenue to share the love of Christ and the truth of the Gospel. I pray that the world would see us caring for each other and sharing the Good News.