Pastor, before you post that blog, Facebook status or tweet, what would be some indicators you might want to consider first? In such an instance, I want to offer 12 brief questions to ask yourself. You might think of them as indicator lights, the kind a pilot checks before taking off.
1) Will it edify? Or significantly inform a useful conversation? (Mk 12:29–31; 1 Cor 14:26)
Try to think of what will edify others. All we do is in obedience to the command to love God and others. How will it increase their knowledge, or faith, or love? Are you accurately representing any positions you disagree with? How sure am I of my facts? Trivialities hopefully fill up our lives less than they do so much of the Internet. John Piper has said that “one of the great uses of Twitter and Facebook will be to prove on the last day that our prayerlessness was not from lack of time!” He’s right.
2) Will it easily be misunderstood? (Jn 13:7; 16:12)
The privacy of a personal conversation limits misunderstanding. In public posts, some things will sound one way to those who know us, and another to those who don’t. Negative assessments are often best shared privately, or not at all. How many of us have learned at our workplace that email is a terrible way to share any kind of negative comments? And, thinking of more public postings, ask yourself: Are there reasons why I may not be a good person to speak on certain matters?
3) Will it reach the right audience? (Mark 4:9 et al.)
If you’re correcting someone, should the audience for that correction be wider—or more narrow? Is that audience correctable? When you use social media, consider who is listening to what you’re saying. What if everyone in this room came over and eavesdropped on your conversations after the service today? Yet we do this all the time online.
4) Will it help my evangelism? (Col. 1:28–29)
Is what you’re about to communicate going to help or hinder those you’re evangelizing? Is it likely to diminish the significance (to them) of your commitment to the gospel, or enhance it?
5) Will it bring about unnecessary and unhelpful controversy? (Titus 3:9)
Think carefully about controversy. The line between vigorous exchange of ideas and a kind of social war is sometimes thinner than we may think. What is this particular controversy that I would be contributing to good for? When is it unhelpful? How much time will it take up? Is this an unavoidable primary issue, or a matter about which disagreement is fairly unimportant? Will this controversy play into any other division that threatens the unity of our local church?