the shape of leadership

Four Keys to Navigating Social Media Wisely

Harnessing the connection economy for the Kingdom

Kent Ingle on September 6, 2019

In the last 15 years, the online world’s power dynamic has shifted from a select group of consolidated gatekeepers to ordinary individuals with something to say.

Platforms such as Instagram, Facebook and Twitter are blowing the lid off the old cultural boundary lines. Regardless of socioeconomic status, beliefs or place of origin, there has never been more opportunity for people to stand out and engage with others.

Church leaders often keep social media at arm’s length, for fear of the harm it can do. But when we use social media to glorify God, rather than seeking glory for ourselves, it can become another means of expanding our Christian influence and global reach.

I call this new paradigm the connection economy. A distinguishing feature of this phenomenon is a person’s ability to make a difference in any given situation by commenting and sharing ideas. Consumers have learned to share their experiences and feedback with online businesses in hopes of seeing real change occur.

Through such exchanges, companies can determine what’s important to their customers and adjust their strategies. Such a market approach to influence was impossible just a few years ago. From customers to business owners, everyone must learn how to take full advantage of this connection economy.

We have a God-given calling to be salt and light in the world.

Social media gives Christian leaders the benefit of a fresh and large-scale vantage point on the needs and struggles of real people. While many are understandably concerned about how behavior on social media damages the Church’s reputation, we shouldn’t overlook the ministry potential of these platforms.

Here are four keys to navigating social media wisely and advancing the cause of Christ:

1. Remain authentic. Authenticity is paramount in the connection economy. It’s important to be human online, as well as in person. That means intentionally showing compassion and empathy. It also means actively listening and responding to feedback promptly.

2. Show respect. Building influence in the connection economy means being mindful of how you come across online. While mean-spirited, confrontational arguments are common on social media, such negativity seldom, if ever, changes hearts. Participating in respectful dialogue is a more effective way to grow relationships.

3. Build trust with others. Building trust has always been easier said than done. But in the connection economy, it can make a significant impact on your ability to move swiftly and build momentum. In a counterfeit world, it is more important than ever to be real, straightforward and consistent.

4. Make a difference. Social media can be a powerful force for sparking change. Even those without wealth and status can leverage it. As Christians, we have a God-given calling to be salt and light in the world. We can make a difference now and for eternity by demonstrating the love of Christ and graciously taking the good news wherever people gather.

Paul used “all possible means” to reach people for Christ (1 Corinthians 9:22). Shouldn’t we do the same?

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