The Church’s social media policy

Not sure what the Church’s position is regarding Facebook and Co.? A little unclear on how to handle the blurry boundaries between professional, private, and religious use when you post? The District Apostles have ratified The Social Media Guideline of the New Apostolic Church to provide guidance on the wise and appropriate use of social media.

We should appreciate others and treat them respectfully. We are encouraged to be transparent and authentic. That really goes without saying for a Christian. In the age of virtual personalities, nicknames, and online profiles the question should, however, be allowed how we can actually live up to this.

Guidance for Church members

At a recent meeting of the District Apostles with Chief Apostle Jean-Luc Schneider in Dortmund (Germany) they also discussed the Social Media Guideline, which a working group had compiled over the previous weeks.

The Guideline has been written for Church members, but it also provides information for communication officers in the national churches and for ministers. Clear positions and recommendations distinguish the paper.

In line with the gospel

In the foreword, Chief Apostle Schneider explains the reason for such a guideline: “Ministers and workers in the Church, and also members, acknowledge themselves and their faith quite naturally online. They ought to know where the New Apostolic Church stands on activities in social media.” And he adds: “What is important is that everyone is aware of the consequences of his statements and behaves in an appreciative and respectful fashion, in accordance with the gospel.”

Communication is faster and more public than ever before. The number of contacts and dialogues is on the increase. Information and news are visible and freely available around the world via the social media networks. “Let us use social media responsibly, and carefully weigh up the use of our time and our words,” Chief Apostle Schneider requests. It is important to the president of the Church that we are careful how we communicate on the Internet.

A policy of good conduct is described in the codex; ten points that do not constitute a panacea, but that express recommendations and encourage users to communicate in a respectful way in the digital world.

The heart of the Guideline: the Codex

1. We respect our neighbour. We maintain a respectful tone and are aware that we are communicating with other people. We have consideration for their emotions and feelings. That is why we refrain from any expression which could be construed as racist, violent, extremist, fanatic, sexist, discriminatory, or otherwise offensive. We publish only what we would say to the recipient in a personal conversation.

2. We are friendly. A clear, understandable language—free of irony, sarcasm, or provocation—is the basis for a constructive exchange of views. Rage, anger, and frustration do not lead anywhere. Criticism is possible, as long as it is not hurtful or personal. Problems with individual people are not discussed publicly. We remain calm, even when others are not.

3. We are honest and authentic.We use our real name and do not deceive. If we are not serving the Church in an official capacity on social media, we can decide for ourselves whether we admit in our profile whether we are working full-time or voluntarily for the New Apostolic Church.

4. We respect the intellectual property of others. Content, whether text or images, may in general only be published with the permission of the original author (copyright). When third parties are quoted, the quotes must be clearly identified and the source of the quote given. Quotes are only ever used as a supplement to one’s own thoughts (right to quotes). If pictures or videos are published, the people depicted must be in agreement (right to one’s own image).

5. We act responsibly. Each person is responsible for the content which he publishes on social media. We do not speculate. Communication on the Internet is often simple and in places banal. Whenever it concerns topics to do with Church we try to keep the conversation above the ordinary.

6. We spread good news. We are witnesses of our faith and the public face of our Church. In our activities on social media we demonstrate Christian values.

7. We protect the private sphere. We are aware that what we communicate on the Internet is, on principle, public. Even if we try to limit the visibility of our social media activities to certain people, content can at any time be redirected, either inadvertently or on purpose, and thus be made public. Private information must remain private. This includes, among other things, personal data and confidential information.

8. We keep politics and business separate from Church involvement. As far as social media activities for the Church are concerned, we refrain from any party political remarks. Likewise, we keep a strict separation between voluntary or Church involvement and business or professional interests.

9. Count us in. A responsible use of social media during work time may be possible. We clarify with our superiors to what extent we may, during work time, use social media to establish contacts, increase our knowledge, or build networks.

10. We do not have to know everything. If we are unsure we ask the person in charge. We do not spread rumours. When we make a mistake we admit it, apologise, and learn from it.

Photo: vege / fotolia

Social Media Guideline DE.pdf Link
Social Media Guideline EN.pdf Link
Social Media Guideline FR.pdf Link
Social Media Guideline ES.pdf Link

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Oliver Rütten
Media, Congregational life