Monday, August 24, 2020

A note from your pastor. . .

Social media can be remarkably unsocial.  But then we all know that.  On the other hand, social media can communicate things we may not want to communicate to people we may not want to know what it is we are thinking, saying, or doing.

For example.  As a pastor I read the rants and raves of my people when they sound off on social media.  As enlightening as the content of the posts may be, the language used can also be revealing. 

Or when people tell me that they have been sticking close to home, what with the COVID 19 stuff and all, and then post their pictures of vacations or weekends away or block parties.  It appears that their isolation is tilted more toward staying away from church than it is other people and places.

Or when people who have not bothered to tell me that they are leaving the church are posting pictures of their baptism by immersion in another church and their public rejection of their baptism as an infant.

Or when people announce on social media that they are newly single or they got married by a justice of the peace at some destination wedding venue or they are moving out of the area or making some other significant change in their family status that they have not bothered to tell their pastors or their church about first.

Or when someone is having a crisis of faith and, instead of asking their pastor for counsel, they appeal to their social media friends to tell them what they ought to believe or what they ought to do or which church they ought to join.

Social media is not the appropriate place to unburden yourself of secrets or to announce in public the things that should be first communicated in private.  It is not a replacement for a phone call or personal conversation.  If you want spiritual advice, why not call the guy God has given you to help you make wise and faithful spiritual choices?

My frustration is that the assumption is made that announcing something on Facebook is the same as picking up the phone and telling your pastor.  Too often, the church and the pastor is the last to know, usually having been informed by somebodies Facebook friend who tells the pastor or church office something they thought they already knew.

People tell me all the time that the Church is not the kind of family it ought to be and then avoid dealing with the family when family issues and circumstances are involved.  Every now and then somebody will complain that the Church was not there for them when they went through this or that.  What they generally mean is that their pastor was not there for them.  I wish I could read minds or look into a crystal ball and figure out what is going on in the lives of the people in my care but the reality is that I depend upon them telling me what is happening.  Every pastor depends upon the people telling them.  It is not necessarily personal to me or to my congregation but a problem we have with communicating needful information to help their pastor serve them better.  So consider this a plea to pick up a phone and tell us what is going on so that we can help you work through it.  We pastors are not like your school principal and when  you visit the pastor you are not being called to the principal's office.  This is most often not about anything near discipline but it is about the shepherd caring for his sheep and the sheep receiving the faithful care of their shepherd.  Help your shepherd serve you and you will find the flock more comfortable and the shepherd's care more than helpful.


John Joseph Flanagan said...

Very good points. Social media has influenced the way people relate, and has many negatives as well as a few positive features. But fir me personally, I would rather speak face to face with people, and for the reasons you outlined, social media has taken over communication in dreadful ways.

jwskud said...

Wow, that's a pretty sad commentary! Folks should go to and consult Pastor Peters and our other LCMS pastors with regularity. If you (for some reason) don't feel comfortable doing so, reach out to an elder. But reach out to somebody in the church, even another member in good standing can be helpful (assuming they know their theology).