First United Methodist Church affirms the use of social media and believes it can be a valuable tool for ministry and for connecting and equipping our members. We offer this policy to help utilize online and social media in a manner that positively represents the church, the Gospel and Jesus Christ.
It is based on three guiding principles:
One of the benefits of social media is that it provides the opportunity to share views, thoughts, joys and concerns about all areas of life. Our social media contributions can be very effective tools for ministry if we are careful to apply caution before we post. We will be careful that our posts are not “doing harm” by insulting or damaging the reputation of others. We will make sure our posts are respectful and in good taste. And we remember: Everything we post – status updates, comments, tweets, blogs – becomes public immediately after we click ”send” (even if we’re using a limited access setting). We can’t take it back once it’s out there, so we will use discernment with everything we post.
Online and social media is one of the most effective methods of church networking and communicating today. When used properly, it can have a significant encouraging influence on our readers and become a powerful tool for delivering the Gospel message to a large audience that extends beyond our contact list. It is a great tool for networking and providing the world with news about our church and ministry. It also is a very useful tool for obtaining feedback and ideas from our audience and can be used to gain insight for sermons, Bible study topics, worship times, needs of the community, etc. The “good” and positive uses of social media are endless.
Online and social media is a great way to find meaningful devotional materials, thought provoking blogs, inspiring worship videos and media resources, and current articles and tools for our ministry. Users have reported that their social media usage helps keep them informed and enthusiastic about their ministry on a daily basis. While it can definitely help us “stay in love with God,” it also can be very distracting.
We will make sure our use of social media does not occupy so much of our time that we are no longer participating in meaningful Bible study, devotional times, worship and conversations with our fellow brothers and sisters in Christ. Social media can serve as a tool to aid, promote and conduct discussions, studies and devotional times, but should not be our primary source of interaction with the world.
This online and social media policy includes any type of posting on the internet including, but not limited to, postings on social networking sites (such as Facebook, Instagram, LinkedIn and Tumblr); blogs and other online journals and diaries; bulletin boards and chat rooms; micro-blogging (such as Twitter); and postings of video or audio on media-sharing sites (such as YouTube or Flickr).
Only specifically authorized employees of First UMC are permitted to establish social media websites on behalf of the church or to speak on behalf of the church through social media websites.
Respect other people’s content and intellectual property rights. Do not claim authorship of something that is not yours. If you are using another party’s content, make certain that they are credited for it in your post, and that they approve of you utilizing their content. Do not use the copyrights, trademarks, publicity rights, or similar rights of others, including those of the United Methodist Church, without the necessary permissions of the rights holder(s).
First UMC maintains the right to monitor and access any information or data that is created or stored using the church’s technology, equipment, servers, cloud storage or electronic systems including, without limitation, emails, internet usage, hard drives and other stored, transmitted or received information.
First UMC reserves the right to control all technology access and may, with or without warning, ban, delete, or modify content and those posting it. Terms for immediate removal from all social media include:
Failure to adhere to these guidelines and policies may result in the temporary or permanent loss of posting privileges, with or without prior notice.