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By Karen Clark, English translation reviewed by Prof. Ângela Araújo

The internet brings together an unlimited number of opportunities and dangers. Exposure of missionary work should have guiding criteria that provide safe publicity for the church / mission agency as an institution, its body of leaders / missionaries, and the audiences it seeks to reach. Therefore, the initial precautions listed below are suggested.


[1] There should be no exposure to activities in regions with some level of religious persecution.
In this case, websites / blogs and social media are inadequate, and then the LORD must be trusted that discreet personal contacts will be enough for his work to be spread.

[2] The primary leader or church council / mission agency should set up a virtual communication team (VCT) that should be known to all
This team, together with the leadership of the church / mission agency, will establish the channels to be used (websites / blogs and social networks), the person responsible for each channel, the decision hierarchy and the frequency of the posts.
IMPORTANT: It should be established that you will be the primary responsible for evaluating materials prior to disclosure in order to avoid inappropriate disclosures.

[3] Dissemination of works should be of balanced intensity
Social networks, for example, were designed to addict users ( see article ) in order to promote products. This makes it very easy for those who post the news, as well as the media audiences, to easily stay connected for a reasonable long time. Therefore, the announcements should be made one or two days a week, as this facilitates the planning of the VCT and those viewing the news. As for the site / blog, because it has no addictive potential, it can be fed as soon as there is news to be served or updated.

[4] Sensitive or controversial topics should not be published
The programs the church plans, as well as the headlines of the pulpit messages, should be intended not to shock those who have not yet been touched by God's Word. Zc. 4: 6 and Cl. 4: 6 support principles that the VCT must observe when choosing the images and words to be disseminated.

[5] Seek to use images by church members or mission agencies
The main basis of social media disclosures is image, and the posts on the site/blog should have an illustration. It is therefore interesting for the church/mission agency to create an image bank in which fellow Christians can include original pictures and pictures, as the VCT can make use of them. Thus, we work from a security perspective regarding the copyright of images.

[6] In the case of social networks, if a post has caused dissension, with aggressive comments among themselves and about the matter, it should be deleted.
One of the saddest realities today is virtual fights. In such incidents, the appropriate VCT officer must erase the belligerence record. If the Kingdom of Christ is exposed to the world as yet another place of contention, the social network will do harm to the work of the church or missionary agency.

[7] Church / mission agency social networks should summarize their posts for issues intrinsically related to their programs
Pastors and ministry leaders, when writing in church/mission agency channels, must be very careful that the content is consistent with the institution's vision and doctrine. Again, the VCT must have a well-defined approval of hierarchical leadership to avoid posts that are dissonant or even undermine the institution's image.

[8] Restricted meetings of leaders should not be informed within public church/mission agency channels
Notices of leadership meetings (principal council, patrimony council, departmental directors, etc.) should be directed to the appropriate stakeholders and, of course, informed within the present context of the church/mission agency.

► Publicity banners aimed at promoting programs for minors (children and / or adolescents) MUST NOT have ADDRESS, unless they are in the church itself, observing precaution # 1 below. This should include generic data such as email / contact phone number, also requiring some initial document from the registrants, verifiable with the authorities. This is vital as a selection of entrants for the safety of minors who will attend the events.

► Photos containing minors should protect their anonymity, that is, images of children's ministry, for example, should focus on those who are leading, not exposing the faces of children.

► Video that is an alert (Facebook platform) - on this link.

From the above precautions, and in view of the topic [3], it is appropriate to limit the virtual communication channels of the church/mission agency. It should always considered that websites/blogs/social networks represent only one way, among others, of bringing members together and drawing people to Christ, and should not become an end in themselves.

Suggested virtual communication channels:

1) Website or blog
It is very interesting that the church/mission agency has a website to publicize its main activities, inform ministry directors and announce upcoming events. That would be your main channel of outreach.
One free platform that has been widely used for blogging is Wordpress .

2) Facebook Fanpage
Research indicates that the profile of current Facebook users is around 50 years old ( see article ). Therefore, it is convenient to have a fanpage for the church in order to reach audiences in this age group. Even programs aimed at children or young people should be announced on this platform, as it is adults who often make it possible for minors to participate in these activities.

3) Instagram
Mostly used by young people and teenagers (unfortunately by children as well), this platform can also be used to include two accounts: a generalist (with general church/missionary programs) and another aimed for young people with their specific activities. .

4) Youtube Channel
Many churches have used this resource to publicize services. This is a risky measure, as in some ways preachers need to be cautious about the terms and issues dealt with in order to avoid disruption in interactions with netizens. Before making use of this tool, the leadership should have meetings to plan the use of Youtube, and may even choose one of the Sunday services for this specific purpose of disclosure, which can be posted on the social networks above.
With regard to missionary agencies, prayer and discernment are needed as to whether such a tool would really be valid. Institutional videos seeking financial support, which are in several languages, would be interesting. However, more specific videos reporting the daily life of missionaries is a subject that requires more consideration. Some of the missionaries' target audiences may feel uncomfortable when they realize they are targets of evangelistic interest.
ATTENTION! The person responsible for uploading the videos should prioritize the upload in their own church or missionary agency. Avoid public places, due to the insecurity of network managers (you never know if it is someone with a good faith or a dislike of Christianity), as well as personal homes, so that the computer IP does not identify anyone's place of residence (see the range 36min50s to 37min36s of this video ).

5) WhatsApp Groups
Each ministry may have its own WhatsApp group, preferably in the broadcast list model, to provide communications that do not require feedback.
For common groups, which make room for interaction, clear leadership is crucial, and will mediate any discussions that take place. The VCT responsible for this important task should be someone with a spiritual and experienced profile and phlegmatic temperament.
An important consideration for VCT to consider is whether interactive groups will be exclusive to members, or if congregated will also be able to participate in the case of churches.

VERY IMPORTANT: Each church or mission agency should evaluate the "time" factor in the use of these social networks. Also someone needs to be responsible for any feedback that Internet users will give, including deleting rude comments, bad words and fights. Serious cases should even be reported to the entire VCT, as well as key church/mission agency leaders.

This content was inspired by the post "Social Media for Missionaries" (this link) and also the author's experience.

Image: Econsultancy.com Print or Generate PDF

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