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Monday, April 11, 2011

RevGalBlogPals on Facebook!!! and 2nd Monday Discussion

We've done it!!! RevGalBlogPals is now on Facebook. You can visit our page here. It's a public page, so you don't have to be signed up for Facebook to see it. We'll use the page to promote posts from our blog. If you "like" us, you'll be able to post to our Facebook wall to ask questions or make comments.

Our 2nd Monday Discussion topic for April will, appropriately, be Facebook. Lots of churches and even more pastors are using Facebook as a ministry tool. But pastors, most of us, don't stay forever in one ministry setting. As Facebook has become more universal, it's clear we need to talk about whether to keep those Facebook "friends" when me move on to a new call. Do you really want your Facebook wall covered with posts and comments from your previous congregation while you're trying to get to know a new one? If you decide to "de-friend" people from the congregation you're leaving, do you notify them or just disappear from their lists? What's the etiquette?

I have some ideas, but we want to hear yours! Please share your Facebook stories in the comments, and be sure to stop over and "like" us, too! We have 180 fans just since Saturday. Many thanks to Mary Beth Butler for setting up the page!!!


  1. Good question, and one that I'm asking myself as I'm moving to a new appointment July 1. I already had a seperate personal account from my work one. I don't want to unfriend my former parshioners, but also need to cut ties, especially since my new appointment is less than 10 miles from my current appointment.

  2. I've had mixed results with Facebook with one disgruntled 'friend' trying to use facebook information to hurt me. So, I shut down my facebook page and came back under another name which I use for non-church friends and family. However, I still miss out on a lot of info from church members, so I'm setting up a church facebook page where they can post and I can follow without fear of sharing too much personal info.

  3. I haven't unfriended anyone, but I have "hidden" people in my News Feed, just to take myself a step further away. I think it's like other pastoral boundary examples: you can't stop people from contacting you, but you don't want to encourage continued relationship by contacting them. So my philosophy is along the "out of sight, out of mind" variety.
    Blessings to you as you navigate this change, Megan.

  4. Chilly Fingers, there's no question, putting something on Facebook is like standing in the post office or the grocery store announcing it to anyone who walks by! It's not safe space. I'm sorry you had that experience. I hope using a church page will work for you.

  5. I'm no facebook-pro, but I have been on it since it's days as a .edu only network.
    My suggestion would be to block your "wall" from former parishioners as soon as you announce where you are going. That way, if they'd like to express any emotions about the transition, they can do so privately in a message. If people from the new congregation friend you, I would also limit their wall privileges for the first bit so that their excited-posts don't offend others who feel differently about the change. Maybe after a few months you can reactivate the wall for whoever you'd like.

  6. Food-E, that sounds pretty "pro" to me! I haven't explored that particular option because I have everything set to Friends Only. But what a good solution.
    I wonder, though, is that something you announce? Are we moving to the time when we make our Social Media intentions part of our letter of resignation?

  7. It's such a good question! It's interesting--our "good pastor" conduct in my association asks that we, upon resignation and release, do not associate at all with former parishioners. So, to me, if I choose to follow that good conduct, would mean that I "unfriend" people in my congregation. Right now everything is all lumped together--but as my FB friends know, I post pretty uninteresting updates.....

  8. After I left my last call, I didn't call. I only sent email to staff friends. I wasn't on Facebook yet, but I have to think it would have been unhealthy to keep those connections. If a congregation is going to move on, then there needs to be a disconnect so that new connections can be made. I think Songbird is correct- we need to not be reading what's happening at the old home so that we can be fully in the new home.

  9. Such a good question! I've assumed -- in agreement with revkjarla's thoughts on good pastor conduct when departing from a congregation -- that unfriending my congregants will be part of that process ... although I haven't yet been in the transitional position to actually do so. (Perhaps close friends from the congregation will refriend and reconnect on FB in later years after the initial pastoral transition?) But I definitely vote for telling congregants so that unfriending is understood within the context of professional departure process and not interpreted as personal "acting out" (whether from sadness or vengeance).

  10. SB - it wasn't even anything controversial - it was because I identified myself as "Christian" and not by our denomination...then I understood that anything I post no matter how careful I am, can be offensive to somebody!

  11. Oh, Chilly! That's extreme.
    Rachel, I guess my feeling is that the congregation is not the place to *have* close friends. But maybe Facebook can have a rule of thumb not unlike going back to visit? I just know I wouldn't be ready to worship at my first call, even though I left four years ago, because I still feel wistful about them. The current pastor has invited me to come back and preach, but I'm nowhere near ready for that. Facebook was not a factor when I was there. When I see members of that church as suggested "friends" I don't friend them, with the one exception of the member who is also Moderator of the local Association, since we now have a different relationship. I also did not "like" their Facebook page, because I feel like people don't need to see my face (or my dog's, at the moment) in the sidebar. I still live in the same city, so I'm super-careful.

  12. Hm. Don't know that I've thought this one out at all. Former Parish didn't get a FB page until after I retired. I've had a personal FB page since before I retired, and used it pastorally to greet people, send birthday and anniversary wishes, admire kid-pics etc. I've continued to do so. I don't post anything on the new parish page. I did temporarily unfriend one continuing friend for posting a slighting reference to previous practice (ie mine) on the parish page...where I couldn't either explain or defend myself.
    No doubt this is sloppy practice...and may rise up to bite me...but anything personal goes into a "message"...
    I do feel a bit bothered when newly-arrived clergy post updates on their public/personal FB page that slight the community...but that's a separate issue.

  13. I am still FB friends with some members of my former congregation, but what I don't do is comment on or react to anything posted on the church page. It doesn't seem to be a problem. I think it is possible to have casual contact with boundary issues coming up.

    My rule of thumb for FB is that I won't friend parishioners but if they friend me I will accept. Honestly, though, that has led me to know somethings about a few people that I wish I didn't know. I know of a couple of priests who have a separate FB account for their "work identity" -- although that is (or used to be) against FB rules it makes things cleaner.

    On the whole though, the pros of being connected to parishioners outweighs the cons.

  14. This is an interesting discussion. I had one friend who suddenly disappeared from FB because he was moving. Later on he set up a new account and started all over again. I much prefer the transparency of telling people what you are dong and why. Like so many of the things that are done in the course of transitioning from one ministry to another, it really does need to be done with both sensitivity and firmness. "Yes, I'll miss you too, but we both need time to disconnect and to give space for something new to grow. That means I won't be back for baptisms, weddings, funerals. It also means that I'll be "unfriending" you on FB. "

    BTW, I have been reluctant to use FB until recently when I discovered that I can really connect with our young adults in a very meaningful way on it, so I'm beginning to have a few parishioners as friends, but now I'm thinking about setting up a church FB for those conversations and "unfriending" parishioners from my personal site and moving them to the church site. There is so much to consider here.

  15. I have friends from all walks of my life, family, elementary school-high school, college, seminary, both calls I have served, anywhere. I have yet to have anything blow up in my facebook, but I think that's because I keep in mind that all these groups are on it. I don't post anything personally that I don't want any one group to see. I don't use different "lists;" I just try to be authentic and reasonable about what I post. If I don't want people to see it, I don't post it.

    If someone from any walk of my life posts something on my FB that I don't want anyone else to see, I have no problem deleting it. It's my Facebook! That has been VERY VERY rare.

    I didn't get FB going until I go to my current (2nd) call. I debated back and forth about whether or not I should have friends from the old church, but in the end I said OK. Some of those friends were friends with my husband long before I was in the picture. Their kids were friends with my kids. Our relationship has changed in a good way from pastor-parishioner to friends. I think it has all be done in a very healthy way. It might also help that my position was closed for financial reason. There is still a senior pastor (now solo) at the church where I was the associate, but it's not like I had an immediate successor whose ministry is compromised. I think I keep it all on the up-and-up.

  16. I'm the administator of our church Facebook page. Our pastor, by design, maintains a distance from that page; rarely if ever posts. Our "institutional" page is primarily a place to inform our friends about upcoming activities in our church, to promote our church blog (which is reserved for more general, non-congregation-specific spiritual content) and to post daily features that add a little something spiritual to people's FB feeds...for instance, every day I post a prayer; and this Lent I've issued a Daily Lenten Challenge.

    Our pastor says that, among other reasons to use Facebook carefully, he simply feels inundated by the unsolicited information flooding in from so many people, including all the steam-of-consciousness "processing" that can go on. He's considering leaving Facebook entirely.

  17. Thanks so much for all your comments. Be sure to see the others over on our Facebook page!

  18. We have recently had problems with people in the church posting hurtful or mean comments about others.
    I find it hard to believe that they choose to call themselves part of "the church," but I also know that they are part of the broken world.
    Oh, and these are adults doing the posts.
    My word verf could not be more approp. It is:


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