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November 2, 2010

Should Churches Block Staff Access to Facebook?

Why preventing staff from accessing the site may backfire.

Editor's Note: Evan McBroom, a ministry communications consultant, recently shared a story with us about an event in which a church staff member who handles the office's information technology revealed he was required to block staff access to Facebook. Evan questioned the move, seeing Facebook as a potential online equivalent to in-home or hospital visitations.

"If you want to follow Jesus' command to love God and love others, then you can't block Facebook from your in-church computers and computer network," McBroom says. "Ministry leaders can absolutely love the people of your church and the people in their lives through Facebook. To block your people from Facebook is the same as saying 'people don't matter.'"

He shares more in this video:

Facebook One Another from Evan McBroom on Vimeo.

Evan McBroom is creative director of Fishhook, a communications and creative services firm serving churches and ministries.

Related Tags: Communication, computers, Facebook, social media, technology, websites


Our church has a Facebook page where we can post events and things going on in and through the church. We've also been able to find out needs of people and things going on within the church that were not otherwise communicated. For us, it has proved an invaluable tool.

I hear what you say but as with all things there is a downside.

What about the member of staff that spends too much time on FB, MSN, etc? Do you still allow them the same access you promote? And that's just a small problem.

i believe that when the teen's age is up to 18, the parents are responsible with how the kids are using their time and help them to use their time wisely.
for example let them do facebook only on weekends and on weekdays it's just school work
when they turn age 21, your corporal punishment must have shown deep down on both parents' and childrens' heart so that time they are on their own except always communicate with each other when the young adult needs help in certain cases. ^^
and im a type of person who grew up with corporal punishment and most Americans don't seem to punish their kids by hitting them instead, lock them somewhere and let them see the wall and think over what they've done or take away their computer and the rights of what is theirs.
i believe that it is a lot better to hit the child and learn not to do it because i dont want to get hit by my parents. there is a Bible verse saying that for the parents to punish by hitting their child with the rod in order to show the love towards the parents or else they would just leave their kids alone. corporal punishment is a must!!!!
and by doing so i still got to do things of what i wanted without being taken away. and if i had a choice i would rather get beat and have my own desire to do something rather than to get my car, computer, phone taken away.
it's horrible!!!!
and after getting hit badly of the sin that childrens' do from their parents, i personally got better and now im 21.
when a kid turns 21 he/she becomes an young adult that is when parents should believe their children fully 100% and through such harsh corporal punishment they learn what is best for God and the parents~~ ^^

FB is no different from, say, gambling sites, video poker, or gaming sites. Yes, it can become addictive. But so can comfort foods.

If you want an atmosphere that avoids all such temptations, you better block not only Facebook, but CBS Sports, and Fantasy Football, and also banish plates of cookies from being set out for temptation-affected staff members.

Good luck with policing all that.

We had a staffer who would play Farmville for hours while at work. We had a confrontation about that, and he asked for help. For his sake, we found a way to prevent him from logging on to Facebook.

Yes, it's a problem.

We have a facebook page to connect with our members online as well as to promote upcoming activities. It has been a great tool in that respect.

Our challenge was that church members who were online friends with staff members did not find it acceptable that anyone would be on facebook during "business hours" for any reason. Or they would misinterpret an expression about having a rough day as a complaint about the job. Then they would take those complaints to the pastor-parish committee. The solution was that some staff members had to "un-friend" all church members.

While it is a problem, if you are working with students it is one of the few ways to communicate with them. Students do lots of texting and they love FB!! It is an invaluable communication tool.

It can be addicting but it shouldn't be thrown out either.

Face Book is an avenue for too much wasted time and also too much irrelevancy to the cause of Christ. Nothing but fluff because if you disagree with something that is posted then you are unfriended. It encourages the adoption of the idea that people do not matter all too often by blocking or unfriending them. I do not believe churches should be involved in FB at all. I have seen too much of ungodly postings by Christians that in no way could help the cause of Christ. I have totally divorced myself from taking part in this questionable activity. As Christians, we need to reach the lost and I do not see that happening on FB. Far from it in fact. It gives the world a picture of us as no different than them. How could a Christian unfriend another Christian. What kind of message does that send to the lost who need to see us as living God's love. What kind of message does it send to the Christian who needs friends in the Christian community.

Like it or loath it, Facebook is a fact of 21st century life. It can't be opted out of. If access is blocked then you are only sending the message that your faith is not up to the job of living in the 21st century, and what message is that for a church to be giving out?

Blocking it/opting out is a cop out. Instead, responsible church leaders need to learn and teach how to handle it responsibly and with grace, like any other aspect of life, from alcohol to driving, or even "real" relationships!

I have a number of friends who make a positive impact for Christ with FB posts.
Churches can use Facebook, like any other communication tool, for ministry and information-sharing, sometimes enabling us to access people we couldn't reach otherwise. As with any new technology, we need to learn how to maximize benefits and minimize problems. Staff/members authorized to represent the church on its FB page must be trained and supervised so that their posts stay within the church's guidelines for content, privacy, tone, etc. Staff should be held accountable for completion of their assigned duties without misusing any potentially time-wasting tool, be it FB, computer solitaire, telephone, or nail file.
Use of FB by individual church members is not within a church's power to block except, I suppose, by fiat. A better plan would be for churches to train interested members how to exchange FB posts that edify, as Paul might advocate.

Good and robust conversation going on here. I tend to feel most aligned with Sandy's comments. I love that she takes it a step further: "responsible church leaders need to learn and teach how to handle it (Facebook) responsibly and with grace, like any other aspect of life, from alcohol to driving, or even "real" relationships!"

Thanks all...and keep the conversation going.

Our demographically young church uses Facebook effectively for everything from scheduling musicians, sending out prayer requests, making announcements, and promoting events. For the band in particular, it has effectively replaced email. It is a fabulous tool as church goers can sign up to attend an event and very easily invite their other friends as well. As a result our Sunday bulletin has been reduced to one 1/2 page handout, saving work and resources.

Facebook is another communication tool - a powerful one - and as a church we are in the business of messages, stories, and relationships - which is something Facebook does particularly well. It is only a waste of time if you make it into a waste of time.

Blocking our ministry team's access to Facebook would be nearly as foolish as doing away with telephones or removing our sign from our building.

Steve - I love you your personalized your comments to YOUR church:

"Blocking our ministry team's access to Facebook would be nearly as foolish as doing away with telephones or removing our sign from our building."

Yes, each church must address these tools w/n their DNA. Yours says "use it"

In May 2010 my 4 year-old son was hospitalized and subsequently died as a result of a rare disease. FaceBook was a God-send for us. We started a community page where we were able to keep everyone updated about his condition, share information about his disease, and then provide funeral details without having to make multiple difficult phone calls. This also ensured the information being passed around our church was accurate. We could update anything at any time, day or night, without waking everyone. Family, friends, and co-workers were able to check his latest prognosis without having to call us, possibly interrupting a conference with a doctor. They could also give us encouragement at the same time. His page still exists as a way for us to share memories.
If certain aspects of FB are an issue (games, streaming video, chat, etc.) a church can block just those portions, much like the US military does on their networks. Aside from keeping everyone updated on developing situations, FB is a useful tool to stay connected to members who are deployed military, on missionary trips, or away from their home church for any extended period (business, college, illness, etc.).

no churches should not block access to fb. fb is all about the person. the same logic applies to guns; guns don't kill people, people using guns kill people. fb is not the problem, it's the people using fb that are the problem if any problem is to be had. so if someone can use fb to enhance their ministry i'm all for it. if someone finds it better to not use fb i'm all for them and their decision. our Creator made us all different so let's accept each other and go from there. i like managing by exception. so let the church members use fb and if certain ones have problems then deal with them and block their access to fb, but not the whole ministry.

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