Last week we marked RevGalBlogPal's 5th anniversary with a question about blogging...this week, Facebook is the social network du jour:
How do you navigate friendships on Facebook as a pastor? I'm currently not on Facebook because I'm not sure that I want to tackle this. I wouldn't mind being on Facebook to communicate with family and friends (especially those friends from college, etc.) But I don't know that I want my congregation to be privy to these communications. Do they need to see so much of my life? And if a friend says something offensive, I feel like it'd reflect poorly on me--especially as I've only been in my current call a few months. Am I being oversensitive?
Oh, and I did mention Facebook to a key leader in my congregation which was very interesting. She mentioned joining Facebook and being cornered at church because she hadn't immediately accepted friend requests. She told me her intent in getting on was to communicate with her widespread extended family. So, the water is a bit muddier here in my mind already.
Is Facebook worth it?
Mompriest who blogs at Seeking Authentic Voice was the only matriarch with much to say about Facebook:
Facebook is an interesting conundrum. For the most part I think its important to maintain a level of privacy about our personal lives distinct from our ministry lives. Therefore I do not want my parishioners to be "friends" with me on my personal Facebook account. Among other reasons this is because our parishioners need to see us as their Pastoral provider and our personal selves may not meet their ideal, which could lead to additional problems. And as clergy we need to be able to be who we are with our closest friends and family without constantly monitoring ourselves because a parishioner may be listening or reading. That said I also understand the desire to communicate parishioner and pastor on the social medium of Facebook. One way I got around this, sort of, was to set up a Facebook account for the church. This account was managed by me but limited to postings and comments about parish related events. I also created a parish based blog for sermons, where I encouraged comments, and linked that to Facebook. (It wasn't too much work to manage a private and a parish based Facebook and blog). The parish Facebook and blog offered me additional opprtunties for communicating. I think you can make it clear to folks that your private Facebook account is just for family, but the parish one is a place for the congregation to connect to you and each other.
Another of our matriarchs indicated that she had no opinion, and no Facebook page.
So...let's get the dialog going with Mompriest and Is Facebook Worth It?... What do you think? How do you navigate the social networking waters as a pastoral leader? I am looking forward to hearing the wisdom and experience of our community.
May you live in God's amazing grace+