by Karen Krueger

Combine common sense and planning when presenting your congregation through social media.

Two concrete areas came up in an exchange about social media policy in congregations recently.

Church kids

The ELCA discusses children/youth and social media exposure in a guiding document for Social Media and Congregations. It reads in part:

The main concerns here are for privacy issues and appropriate behavior. Use a password-protected service as a way to share directory information, photos with captions, etc. only among members. Facebook could be your more open community presence, but monitor it to make sure that member privacy is respected. This involves common sense concerns:

  • Don’t post images of children without the consent of a parent or guardian.
  • Don’t caption photos with full names of children (even if there is consent)
  • Don’t post member email addresses or phone numbers
  • Help protect members from fraud
  • Make sure that church staff and volunteer leaders are using church computers appropriately
Church representatives

Also in the ELCA guiding document is a sample sign-able form for staff and volunteers regarding their use of social media, one aspect of a congregation’s overall social media considerations.

“When I am representing the congregation on any social networking site such as Facebook, YouTube, Twitter, or similar sites, I understand and agree to comply with the following:

  • I will use my own name;
  • I will understand I represent the congregation’s ministry and my position will be appropriate to the mission;
  • I will keep all confidential and sensitive information private and will not post such information;
  • (insert if applicable) I have read the congregation’s policies on use of the internet and social media; and
  • If I have a question, uncertainty or concern about the proper nature of a posting, I will consult with my supervisor and leadership before posting.

Find the full “Social Media and Congregations: Strategies, Guidelines, Best Practices and Resources” (pdf file) among many interesting resources on elca.org’s Information Technology page (page link).