Would Spurgeon Use Social Media?

Social media can be a helpful tool in ministry. It can also be a serious temptation to waste time or, at the least, a distraction from more important things. Too many pastors today are seeking to build an online audience (of mostly like-minded peers) instead of focusing on building the audience they already have every Sunday.

I don’t believe social media needs to be an either/or choice, but I do believe many pastors allow themselves to be cornered into such a scenario where they are choosing between pastoring their people or posting to their peers. It doesn’t have to be this way, but it often is this way simply because of the addictive nature of social media. Likes, retweets, and attaboy comments are easier to manufacture than the more difficult work of growing mature believers through face-to-face ministry.

The draw of social media for the minister is understandable. We feel, perhaps in a more acute way than others, that we have something to say. The desire to share our message – to find an outlet for our burden, our insights, our passion for edification – is easily satisfied with the low-entrance requirements for social media posting. And the validation we receive from the various likes, shares, etc., is comparable to an hearty amen from the congregation.

All spiritual gifts are given to creatures of flesh and are therefore subject to abuse, neglect, or general malpractice. We must preach, but we must strive to preach faithfully. We must serve, but we must remember to serve humbly. And the gift of preaching can easily be marred with pride and ego. We preach, and it feels good to have your message received. When we preach, and we are not well received (or not received by many) we may seek the validation we crave by going to social media to solicit the cyber high-fives we feel we deserve. We start looking for amens in all the wrong places. Actually, we should not be looking for them at all.

The question has been asked, “Would Spurgeon (or any great divine of yesteryear) use social media?” Many are quick to say yes because Spurgeon, who was such an advocate of outreach, would never fail to use such an obvious tool of outreach as social media.

Or would he?

Spurgeon was also an advocate of focus. He was zealous to focus his time and energy on the most important pastoral activities that would reap eternal benefits. The problem with the social media is that it is a tool for outreach whilst being a means of distraction and screen addiction. Perhaps Spurgeon would have used social media. We really could not say. But if he did, he would have used it very, very guardedly.

My brothers, be careful with social media. It is an ego-stroker and a pride-inciter more so than perhaps any other form of media. The validation it provides is emotional junk food. Focus on the people you have and let your online presence be an overflow of your devotion to real ministry. I say this as a preacher who dabbles on Twitter, maintains a blog, and has a YouTube channel. I am not advocating the abandoning of social media, but I know we should be very careful with our motives and our focus. And, honestly, there are some who perhaps should leave off social media altogether. I really don’t believe we will face our Master and hear him say, “You should’ve been on Facebook more.” But I do think millions will hear him say, “You should’ve been on Facebook less.” This alone gives me pause to consider the seriousness of social media and how we use it.

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