18 Ways to Ruin Your Reputation on Facebook

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Every time we post, we risk hurting others and ourselves.

Facebook is a great way for you to build and maintain relationships with people both inside your church and in your community. But Facebook is not without its risks. Every time you post something, you risk hurting, offending or distancing yourself from people. So here are 18 things you want to avoid doing on Facebook …

First, the ugly …

1. Post something out of frustration in the heat of the moment. 

We all get frustrated at times. And if you want to engage people authentically, you need to “keep it real.” But Facebooking when angry, frustrated or hurt is never a good idea. Take a few minutes (or a few hours) to cool down, and then think again if you really want to use Facebook to vent.

2. Criticize people. 

Even if you don’t use a person’s name, chances are you’re Facebook friends with that person or someone close enough to the situation to know who you’re really talking about.

3. Embarrass yourself.

Expect everyone in your congregation and your community to see everything you post to Facebook. So don’t post anything you wouldn’t be comfortable saying or showing from the pulpit on a Sunday morning.

4. Embarrass your family. 

Our spouses and kids say and do funny things all the time. Most of those things can be posted to Facebook with no problem, and they help people to see you’re a normal person with a normal family. But be sensitive and when in doubt, ask your spouse and kids if it’s OK to share a quote, happening or pic online.

5. Criticize other churches in the community. 

Every church has a different mission, ministry philosophy, style of worship and theology. But we all share one Lord, one faith and one baptism. We should be known for our unity, not our division.

Paul Steinbrueck Paul Steinbrueck is co-founder and CEO of OurChurch.com, elder of CypressMeadows.org, and a husband, father of 3, and a prolific blogger.

More from Paul Steinbrueck or visit Paul at http://blog.ourchurch.com/

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  • Rick Knox

    Thanks to the author for these very insightful and wise warnings. I’ve already shot myself in the foot more than once, and fortunately, have discovered how to “delete post” after I’ve sent out other questionable, but witty, remarks. These are not only great ideas for church leaders, but also for everyone in the congregation!

    • jeffholton

      Step further. Most of these are good for any human being, regardless of religious affiliation.

  • Dr. L. E. Kauffmn

    So many of the thoughts you shared as objectable for ministers on Facebook, I have seen my colleagues cross the line, and it always gives me pause when I see my friends do so.  Thanks, Paul, for excellent advice!!! 

  • Derek

    Extremely practical and helpful article.  Thanks for taking the time to create this useful list.  

  • JoynJesus

    Ahahaha :D  Loooove this!  Thanks for posting :)  You are sooo right!  I’d say out of all of my pastor friends on FB, half of these are true for most of them, and all of them are true collectively…lol :D

  • JDougC

    John 1:1-14.  Jesus is Grace + Truth.  HOLY + LOVING in regards to # 13 according to God’s Word the Bible.  Hopefully that was gentle + graceful.

  • http://gospellifenow.org/ Jeff

    Thanks so much. I hope I’m not doing these things regularly, but certainly a few come to mind. The one about theology and church talk is very difficult because I tend to talk about those things in my real life relationships. Its hard to put your greatest interest aside to talk about what interests others. 

  • Stephen Ventura

    I knew this and yet I have been snared.  I decided that I would “play nice” no matter how compelled I was to “straighten out” the other guy.

  • Virak_Mac

    I often fail to remember that it’s not my job to “correct” people whose opinions I find distasteful. 

  • Dawn

    good sound advice

  • Mary Larson

    I needed to repent after seeing this thank you soooo much!

  • http://www.olughu.info/ Okeke

    I wish to thank the compiler for a good advice. Generally the idea will pay off,though my other advice is that FB members should always know how to DELETE unwanted posts.

  • Allison Zakaliya

    This is a great message. I am helped lots. Thanks Author.

  • Ernest Wamboye

    What a beautiful post! And very informative too. I have broken some of them and you’re right. They ruin relationships. I am a better man after reading this. WIll definitely put it to practice. God bless you for this wisdom

  • Tunde Adegboyega

    This is a very good piece. So insightful and must have been from experince. I’ve learnt a lot from this. Cudos!

  • Yemi Agbelusi

    Sometimes I am scared what I read on Facebook. We are free to send things but not all things edify. Love should be the constraint

  • DrIQ

    never found any real benefit for faceboot , tweets and etc..that any broadcast e-mail could not accomplish… networking is good for the common good at times … typically its an over used waste!

  • Brendon

    This was a really good and helpful article. I already practice most of these things for myself but I greatly appreciate the rwminder and encouragement! I am curious though… For what purpose did Christ die first and foremost except to rescue us from sin and hell to the glory of the father? And if there is no purpose greater than that, then why not talk about it out of love. The hell and sin topic is not a hateful one, but in fact one that shows love and genuine concern for the sake of ones’ salvation.

  • willie du toit

    Great article, much needed and surely absolutely timeous. Blessings to you all. Willie du Toit

  • tigersfan61

    Good article…however, you can’t lose you “tax exempt” status by using facebook…

    • jeffsmithnc

      yet

  • rcp

    Nice! But I’m not sure with with #10. I think to be joyful in the Lord is a Christian lifestyle… it doesn’t depend on situations. Yes we might not be happy at all times but we have joy deep within.

  • sandra wilson

    You pose this question: What things have you seen pastors do to hurt their reputation on Facebook? What would you caution pastors against doing? Unforuntately, I have seen a pastor post how hot his wife is and add pictures. It was very uncomfortable.

    • Tisha

      He must have had a reason, were the pictures in decent?

  • Apostle S

    I’m blessed by the article, I’m posting on my fb wall for the sake of others

  • ePHraimAg

    Actually better to NOT Be on FaceBook and Face The Real Book. I will never be on FaceBook ever again as so called Baptists Christians thought it OK to Beseige My Profile and now personally Have more Friends in The Moslem World to a sure Hatred Of Baptist so_called clubby Christians. I will even now go as far to Be the United States Enemy and NEVER your Ally. Happy Twin Towers!
    From Jacobs Union

  • http://www.facebook.com/vicyakiah Victor Yakiah

    Interesting article.

  • John Okemwa

    Nice post Paul! We all need to be cautious of what we do and say. Stay Blessed!

  • Roger

    While I readily accept your caution, you cannot lose your nonprofit status for speaking as a citizen on your facebook page. On the church page yes. As pastors we will alienate some with our personal views but there is a time to speak up when those personal views are also Biblical. Thanks for the article. Makes us think.

  • http://twitter.com/TerynOBrien Teryn O’Brien

    What a great article! Often people don’t realize how negative their Facebook interactions are until it’s too late. Sometimes I think we can forgot that Facebook isn’t about self-promotion. It also isn’t about always being right or making everyone change their opinions. If you said some of the stuff you post on Facebook to someone’s real face…wow, I think if we thought about it like that, we’d think twice! (Although the sad things, this might not change people’s interactions with others at all. Some people are just like that, I guess).

  • Gypsy Girl

    While Social Media is great, please don’t ever forget that there is a “real” person behind the profile, and don’t use it as a pseudo replacement for real relationships

  • alex

    i am really happy and , is like am dreaming ,thank you this is true, in actual fact everything. God bless you.

  • Macman

    This article is why only about 10% of my congregation is friends on FB. Additionally the majority of my FB friends are long distance. And I keep my list at 200 or less. There is no way I can manage 1,500 FB friends. And neither can anyone else. Most of my list are other leaders. I also don’t friend single women, especially under 18, even ifI they are my best friend’s daughter. And I rarely friend married women, usually just their husbands as they can see through his FB if he feels the need to show them anything.

  • Mike Mack

    Thanks, Paul. Very good, practical reminders for anyone who ministers, whether they are a senior pastor, on the church staff, or leading in any other way.

  • Ron B

    You forgot #19 “Don’t participate in Facebook!” I and many others are not on Facebook as Facebook exists to “make money.” How do they do that? Why they mine your personal info & sell it to third parties who then profile you & send you unsolicited email.
    They also state in their agreements that whatever you post, belongs to Facebook in perpetuity!! I do not feel that they have a right to do that & while having an online presence is needed in this day & age I believe Facebook is not the way to go.
    JMHO.

  • AC321

    ok… number 14? You can’t make political comments on YOUR personal page without risking Non-proft status? Let me burst that fear bubble… NOT TRUE. I understand the sentiment of #14 but you as a person and citizen have the right to make political status’ posts and opinons.

  • paul

    It’s a very wonderful observation and advice to consider since it happens that way. So the thing is…be cautious in our post on Facebook.

  • AC321

    I have to say, in general these are commons sense things. I do post quite a bit politically but try to do so in a way that opens conversation. after not being in a position of ministry for the first time in 15 yrs. I can be more “real” than ever, but I still want people to see the LOVE of Jesus through me at the end of the day … Once, however I was angry about a political point and didn’t cool off first. I really had to apologize because not only did I get rebuke from my friends who vote the other way but I also inadvertently opened the door to some to be nasty and name calling – Words of wisdom in general, consider what you say not only of who all will see it and know it (be prepared to be held accountable) but also who will take what you say and RUN further off the cliff with it than you would. :-)

  • NIMROD FAOT

    Thank you very much to the outhor for good article

  • Islanderwaab

    There are internet etiquette that complements what you posted. Great job for putting this together!

  • bala samson

    Wonderful article – a must for the season! Stands out with substance compared to the frivolous writings that we see…………………

  • Tom Mosher

    Because of an incident recently on facebook, I had to end my page, I miss the contact with family and friends and the avenue for ministry.

  • Opendi Bonny Onyango

    Hi Bro.Paul, thank you for your great insight. The 18ways you have just shared a very common unhealthy practices/habits that we often develop.I am glad you shared these all from the bottom of your heart. You surely blessed my heart tremendously. God richly bless you.

  • Bernhard Muenchsdorfer

    Some good points, but the author somehow missed the fact he just did what he so strongly warns others against, just on a different website..

  • ServantHeart2012

    I would highly recommend that before you ever open a Facebook account for yourself OR your church, become very familiar with all aspects of this particular social media site. Since many of us didn’t have an iPad in our cribs, we may not be as educated as we think we are when it comes to the technical aspects. Things like setting up personal security preferences and knowing how to recognize when your account has been hacked in order to change your password and settings is crucial to a good social media experience AND maintaining your reputation in that world. Your kids or even grand kids can probably help. Maybe there is someone in IT who attends your church and can discuss this with you as well. Social media can be a great tool for the furthering of your ministry! However, jumping into it without first learning it can be disastrous.

  • just me

    Another idea…don’t even have Facebook. Do you really need it?

  • Guest

    Although I do agree with some of these suggestions not all
    are for everyone. No matter how someone shares his/her thoughts the fact is you
    can’t and won’t please everyone. As for being politically correct in a world
    that has become about Tolerance “when stating something”, the truth should
    always be stated with love. Even then
    people will choose to decide how he/she wants to interpret your statement even
    when it’s biblical. Ephesians 14:5

  • Stepehn

    I made a new years resolution to play nice in FB this year. Bad year to make this resolution because of the elections. For the most part I am doing well. But I must confess to a few questionable rebuttals.

    • Honest_A

      Numbers 32:20 And Moses said unto them, If ye will do this thing, if ye will go armed before the LORD to war,

      Numbers 32:21 And will go all of you armed over Jordan before the LORD, until he hath driven out his enemies from before him,

      Numbers 32:22 And the land be subdued before the LORD: then afterward ye shall return, and be guiltless before the LORD, and before Israel; and this land shall be your possession before the LORD.

      Numbers 32:23 But if ye will not do so, behold, ye have sinned against the LORD: and be sure your sin will find you out.

      Numbers 32:24 Build you cities for your little ones, and folds for your sheep; and do that which hath proceeded out of your mouth.

  • jose C.

    Pretty practicle and to the point. Good article.

  • JK

    If Apostle Paul was alive millions would be reached with a life changing message of the gospel. Social platforms must be used to edify, encouge and give hope to others. Leaders must refrain from attacking each other Christians must avoid displaying their frustration on FB. Sensitive church matters must not be discussed on fb as this displays lack of maturity.

  • cinde

    You really don’t know if preaching about sin and hell worked with past
    generations? May be you don’t read the Bible. Just look up Matthew 4, Sermon on the Mt for example. “If Jesus had preached the same message that ministers preach today, He would never have been crucified.” – Leonard Ravenhill

    • Fred

      True Cinde, if Jesus was more concerned with protecting His reputation than speaking the plain and hard truth to a fallen generation, there would be no salvation. It’s better to lose your reputation on the social network by speaking the truth, than to remain popular for speaking what massages what the Bible calls “a wicked and adulterous generation.”

    • chris

      Of course Jesus would have been crucified! God sent Jesus into the world for a reason, and he to be crucified to save mankind from their sins.

  • facebook

    I’m excited fot this opportunity to receive christian news and values to share with my friends

  • Philip

    To the Author; This is very wise advise! Thank you for sharing this info!

  • Sad Husband

    Everybody want to be perfect and it sicks my stomach. I wish they would realize, we cannot expect the ideal.

  • George

    This is a good article, and many good points are made. I’m particularly sensitive to the “overly political” point, as most of the people I work and go to church with are of a different political persuasion than me. I’ve seen a lot of horrible political arguments on the public “side” of Facebook – arguments that clearly should be held in private.

  • Don Woods

    If one were to take this article seriously, one would be a a saltless Christian and of no effect, squandering a huge opportunity.

    Follow this advice and loose your saltiness! (If you ever had any to start with)

    • Curious

      Don’t you hate it when Christians squander opportunities to offend and repulse people. I mean, I love salt in my food, but not so much in my eyes.

    • Auli

      Maybe Facebook just isn’t a good place to do ministry? One can be a “salty” Christian while still fitting into the guidelines written here.

      Effective, life-changing ministry isn’t done by posting “Jesus Loves You” memes and preachy statuses. It’s done by making relationships. If you want to encourage someone or minister to them over Facebook, it should be after a relationship is made and in a private message or a post only to that person.

  • Levy S. Castro

    Well, it’s a good article, but with a title somewhat inappropriate. In a social network I have the freedom to express myself without necessarily wanting to be offensive to others. Of course there is always the risk of someone not understanding what I mean, but it depends on each one. We run the risk of having our reputation questioned even trying to do our best in FB. But that does not mean that my character will be asked.

    As Christians, we need to understand and practice the principle of what is lawful and in what befits us on FB or any other social network.

    My suggestion for a more appropriate Title: 18 ways drawbacks of using Facebook

  • Elder M

    Great article

  • revanonymoose

    As a FORMER facebook person I found this article very interesting. I did do such things as put out the Romans Road on my wall and a lot of other scriptures and quotes. However I had so many bad experiences on fb like with people trying to fix me up with someone after my first wife died. And then people from my past who I should never have friended came along. As I have often said, “Facebook is a good way to reconnect with good friends from the past. But it is also a good way for fiends and trouble makers from the past to find you!”
    I got off when an exgirlfiend(and I mean fiend NOT friend!) Sent me a message! Because of that and other things I feel it is best to NOT use fb for ministry!

    • Honest_A

      Facebook is a PUBLIC message board, for even private things can be cut and pasted. Numbers 32:20 And Moses said unto them, If ye will do this thing, if ye will go armed before the LORD to war,

      Numbers 32:21 And will go all of you armed over Jordan before the LORD, until he hath driven out his enemies from before him,

      Numbers 32:22 And the land be subdued before the LORD: then afterward ye shall return, and be guiltless before the LORD, and before Israel; and this land shall be your possession before the LORD.

      Numbers 32:23 But if ye will not do so, behold, ye have sinned against the LORD: and be sure your sin will find you out.

      Numbers 32:24 Build you cities for your little ones, and folds for your sheep; and do that which hath proceeded out of your mouth.

  • A.L. Howard

    No “fire and brimstone”? I understand not overdoing it, but there is a need and time for a reality check once in a while. Personally I get tired of saccharine sermons when this country and world are on a rocket sled to hell. We are not doing anyone a favor by lulling people to sleep with sunshine, butterflies and bunnies. Do a quick inventory in your mind as to the content of Jesus’ public sermons.

    • I.R. Stewart

      Amen, we can’t aim to please people. We’re here to save them from hells fire.

    • Stephen

      I would like to add my amen to this post as well. In this day and age I see the church as becoming more and more carnal. Church leaders are frustrated with their porous back doors and will do anything to appease. The reason our back doors are porous is because the Word of God brings conviction and nobody wants to feel convicted. We want to feel good.

    • Curious

      I forget, which one was it “Blessed are those, who…” Or “Condemned and going to hell are those who…”??

      • A.L. Howard

        Curious, the beatitudes taken out of the context of the rest of scripture are just as dangerous as any other. Jesus never hesitated for a minute to speak out against Pharisees, moneychangers, etc.
        He came to bring a sword.

    • Auli

      I think it’s important to note that this is talking about “fire and brimstone” on the platform of Facebook, not the pulpit.

      He isn’t talking about what you say in sermons, but what you say on Facebook. What may work in a sermon at a church may not work on Facebook. One must take into consideration his/her audience and the arena.

      • A.L. Howard

        Good point. Still, we should balance our messages. I post stuff to make people think/ examine themselves all the time, and they get as many likes as the fluff. People are seriously hungry for the truth. And the truth isn’t always pretty.

    • Douglas Gamble

      Very well said.

  • Alton J. Jr Davis

    this is a must read for leaders and leaders in training and those who desiring to become leader

  • http://sites.google.com/site/p31shirley Shirley Winkeler Scott

    I would add – Don’t be human. i recently lost my husband of 20+ years to suicide. Sometimes when I’m grieving exceptionally hard I talk to my Facebook friends and family. The rude messages I receive “What kind of minister are you?” “You must have been a lousy wife for him to commit suicide.” “That is your punishment for being a women in ministry.” “If you had more faith.” Since when did being a hurting human being become a crime if you are in ministry?

    • alicia

      I am sorry for your loss. Your husband passing is not your fault. That is between him and the Lord. People can be hateful sometimes. Ministers are messengers. They are not the Lord and you couldn’t have stopped your husband. Keep your faith. Everything will be alright. God bless.

    • Kesha

      So sorry for your loss Shirley! It’s unfortunate that people can be real jerks at times and not even know it. The don’t even realize how hurtful their remarks are. I pray God blesses you with His supernatural peace and comfort.

    • tunde daniels

      Hmmmmmm I truly sympathize with you. Don’t ever be moved by what u hear or by what people say. Stand on the word of God. All shall be well.

  • Brian Roden

    In relation to point 15, if you do get in a discussion/debate (thinking of FB groups here, many of which are closed membership and thus have more freedom), when things start going against your position, don’t delete the whole thread to make it look like the discussion never took place. People who took part in the discussion may still have the e-mails (if they had notifications turned on), and deleting the conversation when you’re losing just makes you look like a spoiled kid. Not the way to gain respect as a minister.

  • http://cedarcommunitychurch.org/ Dale Pratt

    Thank you, Paul, for your good advice! I do struggle with checking in regularly enough to keep a consistent presence – my bad! And, I’ve never seen a positive result from pushing stuff like you recommend avoiding. My concern with fb, and other social media connections, is that they are an attempt at replacement of social interaction in much the same manner porn is the replacement for real, personal, sexual intimacy. I’m not sure what all the answers are, but thanks for lending your voice of sanity to the mix!

  • ServantHeart2012

    Recycled article from a couple of years ago, but still has some good points. Since last reading it I have seen more and more postings of what appear to be ‘random’ scripture verses. Don’t misunderstand. NOTHING contained in scripture is random. The word of God is perhaps the most intentional compilation of words ever. But simply posting dribs and drabs of it without expounding at least a little is confusing at best and off-putting at worst. It’s like saying; “I dropped my Bible and it fell open to this page.” Not terribly relational in my opinion.

  • Douglas Gamble

    Not to be the voice of unreason, but what you’re saying sound’s like the modern joy and love, politically correct kind of philosophy. That’s part of the problem with todays Church. They don’t teach the “Repent, the kingdom of heaven is at hand.” Jesus didn’t preach peace,joy and love as His only message. Why then should we? As a minister of a Reformed Orthodox Church, I only preach the message of the Gospel. Good bad and everything in between. I want my congregation to have faith in the final destination once their journey here is finished. You can’t candy coat the message of the Holy Bible.

  • Concernedintercessors Ofnigeri

    Pastors watch it!!!