Nov 18, 2013

What to Do When a Volunteer Posts Something Inappropriate on Facebook

Has it happened in your ministry?  If not, it probably will one day.

A volunteer posts something inappropriate on Facebook.

It may be a vulgar word, an inappropriate picture, or something that doesn't line up with your ministry's core values.

What should you do?

Be preventative.
As part of your on-boarding process, have every potential volunteer sign a social media agreement.  This involves three things.

First, ask them if they currently have anything on their page that would be offensive, inappropriate or a stumbling block.

Secondly, explain why their social media content matters.  It is an open testimony of their spiritual life and if they join your team...of your ministry's character and integrity.

Thirdly, ask them to sign an agreement that they will not post anything that is inappropriate or goes against the ministry's core values.

Be personal.
When you find out that one of your volunteers has posted something inappropriate, then talk with them face-to-face.  Bring the post to their attention.  Then remind them of the "why" behind the guideline.   Ask them about the post.  Have access to it so you can bring it online or have a print out of it.

Be pastoral.
Speak the truth in love.  Many times, you will find that they didn't even realize the post was inappropriate.  Look at it as an opportunity to help then grow as a Christ follower.  Come with grace and love instead of condemnation and judgment.
Be persistent.
Ask them to take the post down.  If they agree, check back and make sure they did.   If they still haven't taken the post down, then have another face-to-face.  Let them know at this point if they do not take it down it,  it will jeopardize their involvement on the team.  If they are resistant, then you probably don't need them on your team.

Your turn.  Has this ever happened to you?  How do you respond?  Any tips on how to handle the situation?  Share your thoughts with us int the comment section below.


What if it's the senior pastor (me) and people "think" its inappropriate but its simply a matter of preference and taste but they are thin skinned and easily offended and sooner or later it would just be the same thing on a different day that offends them? I know people are going to be people - can a pastor be people too?

As a senior pastor, if it's only 1 or 2 people nitpicking it may not be too big a deal. On the flip-side, as a leader it might be safe to stay far enough back from the line that you don't have to worry about crossing it.

Why yes, this HAS happened to me. It's like you read my mail! Great response, Dale! This is EXACTLY how we should approach these sorts of issues. I especially appreciate the "Be Pastoral" section. So important for us to assume that the person did not mean to cross any lines. Volunteers can sometimes just not be looking through a leadership grid. Thanks for this great post!

Anyone who has a leadership role of any kind in a church should display a life that is in agreement with the church discipline. Whether it be at home at the mall int he airport or online. If there is behavior that is inconsistent with a holy God honoring life, then they should be relieved of their leadership role until they have made the necessary commitments and changes. There should be rules and regulations with the church as there is with any other "job" Now I understand that we are all humans and we all make mistakes, however if a persons lifestyle is regularly inconsistent with the beliefs of the church then there is a serious spiritual problem that needs to be addressed. If you we turn our heads and ignore the elephant in the room, it will affect others in the congregation and can cause a split in the church and can cause young/new Christians to stumble. This is a very serious problem with many churches who place people in leadership and then hope that their Christian character catches up with them. Lack of volunteers is and will never be a reason to compromise the morals ethics and beliefs of the church.

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