A year ago, a person posted about her struggles in church to a Facebook group of at least over 100 strangers. The online community gives us a false sense of security even in a group. We don’t know those 100 people so nothing is guaranteed confidential. That aside, we also don’t know the struggles of those 100 people.
- Are they the ones Barna talks about all the time who are leaving church?
- Do they go to church?
- Is our speech encouraging them to a community of faith or to become a lone wolf Christian?
- Is our speech encouraging forgiveness?
When I mentioned my concerns, the person lashed out. I tried to be kind, affirming her concerns and hurt, but my words weren’t welcome. In another situation, a woman in a public group was upset because someone reposted her prayer request on another account. She had said it was confidential, but the group itself has thousands of people in it and the group was listed as public. Again, we lapse into a false sense of security.
An alternative would be to the first situation to talk to a small group of people via private message, email, or in person; someone he or she knows to rely on them for encouragement, sympathy, and support as they heal in their situations, or speak in vague terms to the public group.
On the second situation, post vague or “unspoken” requests. Confidentiality is to a select few in more private forums. Understanding social media privacy settings is also key.
For instance, a Facebook group set at public or private, will show up in your friend’s newsfeeds, and when people in that group comment or like, that also shows up in their newsfeeds for their friends to see. “Secret” is a Facebook group setting that doesn’t show up in your newsfeeds and also doesn’t show up in public searches. That is the best setting. If you don’t want your private details to be on someone else’s Facebook, only add people to a group that you have gotten to know or know face-to-face to keep your requests confidential.
Meanwhile, I am starting to post a new graphic series called, “Why I Go to Church,” on my social media feeds. When we air our differences about church, a great disservice is done to those who have labored in love for us. Church is a dysfunctional family, but we need each other. It’s not a building, but a body. Church can look like a small group, a house church, or a traditional building provided it bases its teachings on the Bible.
If you need to talk to someone, you can speak to me through private message on social media. I’ll be happy to listen and pray for you.