Busy Pastors Can Say No to Social Media

Busy Pastors Can Say No to Social Media

August 21, 2012 by

Curt Richardson, CEO of mobile device case maker OtterBox, recently went public with his ‘just say no’ stance on social media. For him personally (Note: Not OtterBox in general, just Curt personally), he doesn’t have enough time to do it right:

“I believe that to be a valuable participant in social media, you must really dedicate the time.”

In an age when you have to jump on every techno-bandwagon in order to be relevant, it’s refreshing to hear a CEO say no.

This is good advice for busy pastors. You don’t have to keep up with the other Twitter-posting, Facebook-hopping pastors out there. You can opt out.

A few lessons from this little insight:

  1. If you can’t do it well, don’t do it.
    Doing something well requires a heavy commitment of time and energy. You can’t just wing it and expect it to be amazing. That’s true for a lot of life and it’s definitely true with social media. Heck, it’s true with a lot of communications. If you can’t do a new effort well, don’t waste your energy. You’re better off focusing more effort into fewer projects and doing them ten times better.
  2. Know what you’re missing.
    Don’t get too far ahead of yourself—busy is not an excuse. It doesn’t take a lot of time to have a valuable presence on social media. You can spend five minutes a day and get plenty out of it. You need to weigh the pros and cons of being on social media. Social media can personalize pastors and make them more approachable, not just to your congregation, but to your wider community. Being even more approachable might be a scary thing, but it can also deliver great value, especially in terms of outreach. If you’re going to say no to social media, know what you’re missing. Don’t let ‘busy’ be an easy excuse.
  3. Lower expectations.
    If you are busy but still see the potential value of social media, sometimes it’s better to lower expectations. Instead of being a social media rock star, maybe you’re just going to be a quiet observer. That’s OK. Not everyone has to post 30 times a day. Add something to your profile to let people know that you’re not fully invested and you’re just trying the waters. That’s OK. By redefining the expectations, you allow social media to work in a way that works for you, not just what the hipsters say you have to do. And this is true for a lot of communication efforts. Maybe your church can’t do a website well, but you still need to have one. OK, lower the expectations. Instead of doing a huge site that’s never updated, do a single page really well.
  4. This is personal, not business.
    Finally, note that Curt Richardson’s social media opt out was a personal choice, not a business choice. OtterBox still uses social media. Your church may still need a presence on social media, even if you as a pastor decide to opt out. Many of these ideas still apply to a corporate account—if you’re going to do it you need to do it well (there’s nothing worse than a church Facebook page with updates from last Thanksgiving) and lower the expectations if you need to. Whatever will make it work. Just remember that opting out personally is not the same as opting out for your wider organization.
Post By:

Kevin D. Hendricks

When Kevin isn't busy as the editor of Church Marketing Sucks, he runs his own writing and editing company, Monkey Outta Nowhere. Kevin has been blogging since 1998, runs the hyperlocal site West St. Paul Reader, and has published several books, including 137 Books in One Year: How to Fall in Love With Reading, The Stephanies and all of our church communication books.
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6 Responses to “Busy Pastors Can Say No to Social Media”

  • Mark Brooks
    August 21, 2012

    While I don’t specifically disagree with this post I do think it is a mistake for any pastor to disengage personally from Social Media. I work with some of the busiest pastors in America, in some of the largest churches, and they still find time to use Social Media. Like it or not Social Media is here to stay and rather than pulling out we had better find ways to make it work for us, busy or not!
    Mark Brooks

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  • Matt
    August 21, 2012

    I completely disagree with point #1. It is a must that you have a social presence. Even if you are very inactive. 1 blog post a month is better than none at all. Many pastors would be served well to use Social media in some form, even if it isn’t frequently.


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    • Kevin D. Hendricks
      August 22, 2012

      One blog post a month would be pretty good for most pastors. Sorry, but I think inactivity is pretty awful, unless you set those expectations. There is truly nothing worse than a Twitter feed that’s months out of date. You might as well not be there.

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  • Evan McBroom
    August 23, 2012

    I think if a pastor spends some serious time exploring #2 and fully understands what they’re missing, they might likely rearrange their priorities and make/find time to opt in. I encourage pastors who aren’t connecting with their congregation on Facebook to get a guide in their congregation (someone who is Facebook savvy and understands church leadership) to help them explore the conversations taking place online. Being part of that conversation brings great pastoral opportunities. Anyone else feel this way?

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  • Kevin
    August 23, 2012

    Social media is the language of our culture. How could we become too busy to interact with people around us?

    The best point in this post is number 3. People often try to be someone they’re not through social media. Just like with your neighbor’s house and car, you don’t have to try to “keep up with the Jones.”

    Listen, talk, interact. Social media provides pastors the opportunity to share a glimpse of their lives with people. I think this creates curiosity on the parts of young, social media savvy people.

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  • Kevin D. Hendricks
    August 24, 2012

    Let me be clear: I definitely agree that it’s awesome for a pastor to be on social media. There are so many benefits. But I think it becomes counter-productive when a pastor is pressured to be on social media and they don’t have the time to make it work. Much like Curt Richardson did, I think it’s OK for these pastors to opt-out. It’s not the best solution, but I think it’s OK.

    Sometimes we need to give people a break. Your social media swagger is not the gold standard for every profession.

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