In light of the severing of relationships over contentious issues online, an associate pastor at First Baptist Church in Thompson, GA., thinks the schism shows how poisonous social media can be and offers ways to handle it.
Pastor Matt Ward came up with a useful method to encourage Christians to rethink their time spent on the web after some contemplation and discussion with church members.
"I look at the effect that it's had on my friends, church members, how it makes them feel," he told CBN News.
Several churches, he continued, had a written social media policy that requires church employees to abide by it.
Still, he observed that "where they fall short is offering guidance for church members."
Nonetheless, he acknowledges that pastors, church workers and members are often encouraged to utilize their social power to represent Christian principles on the web.
Christian laymen, on the other hand, should exercise caution on social media sites while posting and interacting.
'You are a Christian and you are always a Christian even when you're online," Ward said. "You are always a follower of Jesus Christ. So, let's word these guidelines in such a way that you can see oh this is what the bible says. be truthful. Be compassionate. A gentle answer brings down anger. Don't stir up controversy."
Thus, he recommends utilizing social media to spread the gospel by being nice, courteous, and respectful in all of online interactions. He also advised logging out when it's not needed.
When expressing thoughts and views, he reminded Christians that one way to "season the world with salt" and to "let our light shine before people" is to always state plainly that they are just personal views.
Additionally, he promotes the sharing of relevant, honest, and significant information.
Lastly, he recommended being aware of the audience by considering the audience's age, gender, and socioeconomic position. The safest rule of thumb would be to write for the broadest possible audience, he said.
Ward also believes that the most essential thing is to have a positive attitude.
"The Bible is a great reference for all things communication," he said. "Social media is simply another platform of communication. Let's investigate what the Bible says. And sure enough, it says everything we need to know on how to use social media well."
Meanwhile, Facebook is reportedly working on new features to help keep teenagers away from toxic content and to give them the ability to limit the amount of political content they see on the site.
Author Daniel Darling claims that some Christians are stirring up hatred online. Darling wrote "A Way with Words: Using Our Online Conversations for Good."
"We tend to forget that the people we're interacting with are not avatars or pixels but they're human beings made in the image of God," he told CBN News. "And so, I think we forget all those things when we go online and as a result, Christians often act as uncivil and uncharitable as anybody in the world."
Darling argues that maintaining and preserving peace is critical for Christ-followers.
"One of the things I think is really unhelpful is when Christians not only say, 'Hey I disagree with this but,' they sort of attack the motives and the motivation making the argument. I think we need to resist that," he said.
Darling determined that a person's online life is comparable to his real life.
"Someone who has regular spiritual disciplines, who's living in community, who has a good network of friends, who's living a healthy, balanced Christian life, that will impact how you interact online," he explained.
He further clarified that he is not advocating for Christians to abstain from discussion of contemporary issues.
However, he believes that people may have fruitful political discussions.
"I think we should be outspoken about what we believe, stand up for the truth. We can even have really spirited back and forth debates. It's not important just that we say the right things and we stand up for the truth - but how we say it matters," he said.