Monday, June 25, 2012

Clergy Online: Seeing Yourself as Others Might See You


David Hansen (@Rev_David) will be moderating the #ChSocM chat on Tuesday, June 26 at 9:00 PM ET. Here, he provides a context for what will be (yet another) a lively conversation. Read on, mark your calendar, and let's chat!


Almost Happy Birthday!  In just two weeks, the Tuesday night #ChSocM chat will celebrate its first birthday.

This means we’ve been talking about what it means to use social media in ministry for a year. And what a year it has been! 52 weekly conversations. Blog posts about boundaries and public online presence. Sharing joys and sorrows. Our lead moderator went off and got hitched and my own nuptials are just around the corner. There have even been a couple of books published (or soon to be) about church social media.

We have been so focused on key issues about church social media, it can be easy to assume everyone else is engaging in the same conversations.

Until it becomes obvious that they are not.

Last week, a post appearing on a denominational blog caused quite a dust-up. That post, which has been removed, raised questions about what clergy should or should not share about themselves on social media, how to deal with sensitive issues online, and how leaders in positions of authority interact with others on social media.

There were good reasons why that post was removed, and I do not wish to resurrect specific issues raised within it. However, in the online, public conversation that followed, important questions arose:
  1. How do we begin having real expectations for the public behavior of clergy? This would be expectations that hold us accountable while acknowledging we’re not a monastic caste.
  2. How can clergy learn to speak about our lives publicly with authenticity and transparency, without sharing inappropriately? 
  3. How can the #ChSocM community engage denominational leadership in education about social media, and invite them into conversation about using social media for ministry?

5 comments:

Pr. Bill Pierce said...

By thinking twice and if need be, speaking once?

Meredith Gould said...

I think we also need to start discussing if, when, and how we ought to respond when we see people, especially ministers (lay and ordained), revealing troubling and troubled behaviors in online communications.

What's our ethical obligation? What an appropriate pastoral response? Do we ignore red flags that we would otherwise heed "in real life"? And if so, with what consequences to self, Self and others?

Sophia Kristina said...

Trying this again:

As Meredith is known to say, IRL habits eventually make their way to online spaces. If we don't know how to care for our colleagues, pastors and friends IRL, how do we do that online? We're not so good at asking: "How is it with your soul?" for fear of being intrusive and meddling.

I've seen online channels being used as an outlet for some who don't know how to reach out IRL because you have a buffer/cover, and for others, online is just an extension of their lives. How do we minister can call each other out in love online?

Sophia Kristina said...

Trying this again:

As Meredith is known to say, IRL habits eventually make their way to online spaces. If we don't know how to care for our colleagues, pastors and friends IRL, how do we do that online? We're not so good at asking: "How is it with your soul?" for fear of being intrusive and meddling.

I've seen online channels being used as an outlet for some who don't know how to reach out IRL because you have a buffer/cover, and for others, online is just an extension of their lives. How do we minister can call each other out in love online?

journeyman37 said...

Actually, I've typically found it easier to respond forthrightly and lovingly to folks with whom I have some online relationship than it is sometimes possible to do IRL. And generally, I've seen even stronger responses (as in, stronger positive responses) when this happens online than when it might happen in "my study" IRL. Coaching and spiritual direction-- including accountable intervention-- seem to be positively facilitated rather than in any way hampered by the "virtual" means of communication.