How the church manages her image in social media
The social media has become one of today’s powerful tools for disseminating news and occurrences globally. And though its positive aspect cannot be underestimated, the negative side can be equally damaging. People that have been at the receiving end know how it feels. The Church has also not been spared of the corrosive sting of the social media. Daily and hourly, users are inundated with ugly, debasing, disgusting and often horrifying activities of some ‘men of God,’ which invariably rub off generally on the Church’s image and reputation. What is the church doing to rectify the situation and salvage the Church’s reputation? CHRIS IREKAMBA and IJEOMA THOMAS-ODIA report.
‘The Ultimate Judge Is God, Not Social Media’
(Dr. Cosmas Ilechukwu, General Overseer, Charismatic Renewal Ministries/National Vice President (PFN)
The social media is the market place of ideas. One is wont to find in it some things that are noble and some that are couched in utter frivolity. Being a free space for people to express their thoughts and opinions on everything imaginable, strengthened by its offer of anonymity, one would be foolish to let the social media pontificate on one’s reputation. The church is and will always be object of public scrutiny because of public perception as the bastion of righteousness and morality, and because of its role as the values creating institution of society. Consequently, lapses that are overlooked by the public in other institutions will be given prominent attention, if it is noticed in the church. Serving as a watchdog over the church, the social media has helped church leaders to become more right-conscious in many areas and by so doing, has helped churches to be more accountable than before.
However, it must be observed that majority of social media army are generally anti-establishment in their worldview and responses to societal dynamics. So, they are wont to attack any and every existing power structure, especially when they perceive that the ideals of such establishments impinge on their supposed rights. The church is not an exception here. Many people that attack the church do so because of their disdain for her and what she stands for. Our Lord Jesus, the Head of the Church, warned that this would happen, saying, “… Since I, the Master of the household, have been called the prince of demons, the members of My household will be called by even worse names!” (Matthew 10: 25). What the churches should do is to keep on doing what they are called to do, knowing that the ultimate Judge is God and not social media.
The church has been consistently accused of negligence in her corporate social responsibility. This could be true in some cases, but I doubt if there has been any objective study to ascertain what the true situation is. I am aware of the enormous investments numerous churches are making to impact positively on their host communities economically and socially. Accusing churches of charging exorbitant school fees is ridiculous. Are schools of comparable standards, which do not belong to the churches charging less? If not, could not the question be asked if the churches are not operating in the same economic milieu? Have the critical social media army bothered to find out how much those churches are spending on scholarships to help the less privileged get education? I am of the opinion that churches should go on with their good works and not let the army of antichrist and antichurch, which swarm in the social media, distract them.
‘Church Should Worry About Her Image’
(Rev. Dr. Musa Asake, National General Secretary, Christian Association of Nigeria, CAN)
WHO are those writing in the social media? To me, that is what we should take into consideration. Personally, I don’t pay attention to such stuff in the social media, because you need to find out who is writing. Those using the social media to express themselves whether for good or bad, you don’t know them, you don’t know their credibility. So, I don’t allow such to deprive me of my sleep. When you begin to trace some of these things, you discover that they only use big names. When you call someone a pastor, we know who a true pastor is and you cannot begin to generalise that pastors have done this, they have done that, or that churches are bad because one or two persons who call themselves pastors are going about it in the wrong way.
We are all human beings and we have our different flaws, so if something is reasonable, they should come out in a reasonable way and publish it or call a press conference or you call our attention to it and then we will follow it up and trash it.
How can we manage it? The church cannot stop people from writing on social media. There is freedom of speech and expression and so, everybody is free to write whatever he or she wants. But the bottom-line as a Christian is that, at the end of the day, we are all going to appear before God and everybody is going to give account of what he or she has done, including those writing nonsense in the social media about churches and men of God. I am not here to judge, but that is my belief as a Christian.
I think the church should continue with its good works and anybody in the church that is not doing it right, it is between him and his God and I appeal to him or her to stop tarnishing the image of church and men of God.
‘Don’t Believe Everything On Social Media’
(His Grace, Most Rev. Alfred Adewale Martins, Catholic Archbishop of Lagos)
SOME of the things we see on social media are ridiculous and many times, we find out that they are publicity stunt, more than any other serious thing. Indeed, that unfortunately is the bad side of social media, that people can now use it for purposes that are outrightly fraudulent and exploitative, including hate speeches.
As a church, we recognise the value of social media and what good it can do, if used properly, and we intend to use it as much as we can. I would, however, like to warn people to be careful because it is not everything on social media that is true. There are lots of fraudulent people out there in the name of Christianity.
I was at a meeting in Jalingo recently and president of Catholic Bishops Conference gave a wonderful speech. But before the end of the day, the speech had circulated and got to people who used it wrongly and people were making all kinds of comments, which is a bad side to social media.
The man was very upset that they had distorted everything he said and people were going about abusing him. As a church, we will do the best we can and constantly warn people to beware, and not take everything on face value.
‘Let Every Believer Play
According To Divine Rules’
(Rt. Rev. Johnson C. Onuoha, Bishop, Diocese of Arochukwu/Ohafia, Anglican Communion, Abia State)
DEFINITELY, there are great improvements in the information sector, which has made evangelism easier. But has the church abandoned its core mandate of reaching out to the poor because of ostentatious lifestyle? Are ministers of God needed to be poor so as to reach needs of the poor? Do churches have anything to give in order to transform the poor into the riches of Christ?
In Jesus time, “He was in the hinder part of the ship, asleep on a pillow; and they awake him, and said unto him, Master, carest thou not that we perish?”Note here that, over 2000 years ago Christ’s ship had an apartment to sleep and even on a cushion. Does that reflect poverty? But this didn’t hinder Him from reaching the poor. Therefore, if all God’s servants would seek God first, every other thing shall be added. God is the One that blesses without adding any sorrow. (Proverbs 10:22) Therefore, the church should consider the poor and needy among them in all their establishments, so as not to be tagged business-oriented without any human face. Jesus was always moved with compassion, healing and feeding the multitude (Matthew 14:14-21).
Everybody must understand the command of Christ: “Go ye into all the world, and preach the gospel to every creature.” Note that signs are already designated to follow, and we don’t need to run after miracles, as miracles will always follow us. (Mark 16:15-18) However, caution must be made here because of adulterated miracles. Know that strait is the gate, and narrow is the way that leads unto life and not all that call Lord, Lord shall enter into His Kingdom. (Matthew 7:13,14,21) Without any iota of doubt, there shouldn’t be any controversy on the expansion of Christ’s Kingdom, but let every believer play according to divine rules and always trust in God for direction.
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