Stuff Christian Culture Likes

Stuff Christian Culture Likes

#132 Facebook fan pages for pastors

muslimosteen.jpgWhat more relevant way to encourage and shepherd your flock than via fan page? Lots of these exist on Facebook. They are created either by members of their church or by the pastor himself masquerading as a member of the church.

Since there isn’t a Facebook fan page category for pastors, the fanatic-inspiring pastor is sometimes categorized as a “musician.” No one raises an eyebrow. Fan page? Sure. Musician? Why not? He’s a man of God!

Some of these pages have tens of thousands of fans. Said fans use the page to leave copious messages and pressing questions that the pastor could never respond to due to his mortaldom. But maybe they don’t see him as a mere mortal. Maybe once he’s fan-page-worthy he’s approaching the realm of exalted figurehead. This sort of mindset turns the pastor into an untouchable celebrity rather than a friend and companion in seeking God. Hi, conflict of interests.

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posted February 25, 2010 at 2:58 pm

This would be just a classic case of idolatry wouldn’t it? Even serial killers get their own web pages………

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posted February 25, 2010 at 4:11 pm

Hadn’t thought about it a lot but what is the purpose of pastors having fan pages anyway?
IMO Pastors who have their own fan pages should QUIT being a pastor of a church and just go off and do their own thing. For the good of the church congregation, wouldn’t it be wise to “pass the torch” onto someone else who’s more capable of actually “pastoring” their church.
Honestly, I’d have more respect for a pastor who’s able to walk away from pastoring a church to pursue their own missional endeavors. At what point have they surpassed “pastoring” a church and moved on to becoming a preacher, speaker, author, etc. who also happens to preach at their church? But then I can also imagine it would be pretty difficult to simply walk away from a weekly live audience that you built from nothing. Hmmm… kind of like talk show hosts.

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posted February 25, 2010 at 9:09 pm

Kind of gives a different meaning to Worship pastor.

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posted February 26, 2010 at 11:22 pm

Satan was a worship pastor too.

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posted February 28, 2010 at 3:41 am

To be fair, facebook has a hard cap on how many friends someone can have on their account. The only way to allow more friends than this cap is to have a fan page. Many (but not all) of the pastors who have “fan” pages only do it not because of the fan status, but for simple logistics. Case in point, Ed Stetzer, who practically polled his friends and asked for advice before deciding to switch to a fan page and then gave about a one month warning along with a blog post to explain the change so that people didnt associate him with being someone to be a fan of.
If this is the best you can come up with on this blog, you’re running out of material.

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posted February 28, 2010 at 6:33 am

Steph: I HIGHLY encourage you google the following phrase: “Popes of the Carolinas”! The name says it all. You’ll find an amusing critique of some pastors – and their minions – that are most pertinent to this blog (*ahem* Steven Furtick, Perry Nobel…). For kicks, there’s a couple shout outs to Joel Osteen and Rick Warren.

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stephanie drury

posted February 28, 2010 at 1:40 pm

Oh Jace. You overestimate this blog if you think that that is the best I can come up with, because it won’t get any better than the post you hate the most. But I am continually reminded of how Christlike people who defend Christian culture are when they leave comments like yours. The love of Jesus is just pouring off you!
I still don’t know why Ed went ahead and made himself a fan page if he was against it. I really don’t get it.

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posted February 28, 2010 at 3:24 pm

Jace, to me it’s as much about the followers as it is about the pastor. Celebrity is a two-way street. Celebrity and cults of personality seem to have become a mainstay in Christian culture. The church has conformed to the world. It’s sad and very off-putting to me.
I don’t know Ed Stetzer. He might be a super-great guy. It’s hard to tell on facebook if you don’t know a person already. But looking at his facebook page…it really is all about Ed. Do those 6429 fans/friends have a relationship with him? They feel some connection to him, some blessing from him let’s say. But if a pastor takes on the responsiblity of such a public social presence…wouldn’t it have been a better service to those 6429 people to start a topical group instead? To get those people to start actual conversations about what Ed is passionate about, to get them to connect *with each other* instead of just him?
Facebook is a strange, sound-bit alternate universe. It makes us feel connected, when most of the connections created or maintained seem to be casual at best. How much connection takes place in three-sentence mini-posts? Especially with someone you don’t have a real-life relationship with? In its worst case, Facebook actually negates action or relationship. I joined a group supporting same-sex marriage. I let my opinions be known! And so what? I doubt it swayed many voters or comforted many people suffering in their second-class citizenship. Yet clicking that link allows me to trick myself into feeling engaged.
I’m not trying to single out or be too hard on ole Ed. He faces quandries and questions I never have and never will. I have a lot less charitable thoughts about other Christian leaders. The question is more, why was this the default, fall-back thought, to start a fan page? If it is only to advertise a speaking schedule…what a waste!

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posted February 28, 2010 at 11:35 pm

And so…now Ed is right because he asked all his friends? Or are Ed’s friends right because Ed followed their advice? When did the right thing to do become about popular opinion (and isn’t this going-with-the-crowd business one of the prime evils of “the world”)? Conscience doesn’t mean anything anymore? “He must become greater, I must become less” only has value when you’re not talking about Facebook? How many people can Ed hope to have an actual impact on anyway?
It’s just more proof that the evangelical church exists for itself. A pastor’s presence on a Facebook fan page only does a superficial sugar-frosting good to the people who already believe everything he believes. It doesn’t feed hungry people or comfort suffering people or clothe naked people or visit people in prison or heal sick people. It just makes already-Christians feel awesome about being already-Christians. The whole trend is about self-interest, of the fans as much as the pastors. If we spend our time feeling like we’re bettering our souls and “deepening our walk” then it doesn’t matter that we’re ignoring the needs of people around us, because our souls take first priority.
“Love your neighbor” doesn’t count for much, I guess. Love yourself, though, that’s pretty high up there.

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posted February 28, 2010 at 11:37 pm

Also, I agree with Bill.

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posted March 1, 2010 at 2:51 am

to be fair guys, is it realistic to expect God to actually be able to get through to people without our help? I mean, seriously now, we NEED things like facebook! Why are we here if not to speak for a god who is too impotent and out of touch to speak for himself? that whole bit about “that light which lighteth every man that comes into the world” was basically poetic hyperbole, and Matt 23:15 is *totally* one of those vague “historical context” type verses that aren’t aimed at us today *at all*. (Leviticus 20:13, however, totally God talking directly to us, TODAY.)

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posted March 1, 2010 at 2:36 pm

I speak only for myself, Nathan, but I don’t come here for a sense of spriitual community, as some (admittedly not all) fanpage fans are likely to do. I read this blog the same way I read a Sports Illustrated or Atlantic Montly article – for entertainment related to topics I’m interested in.
And I would add that there’s nothing wrong with pastor fan pages, IF people understand what they really are: the equivalent of a pamphlet stuck under your car in the parking lot or a poster up on your dorm wall. The problem (as mentioned above) with facebook is that it’s easy to mistake that ‘pamphlet’ for authentic community. The language (‘friend’, ‘social networking’)points to this, as do many people’s perceptions.
Also, let’s not forget that not only is the pastor’s ego potentially puffed up, but fans get to publicly declare their devotion to their pastor, which may or not be misunderstood as devotion to Jesus Christ. Is praying loudly in the town square and looking intentionally gaunt while fasting so everyone can see already on this list…because it sure seems like chrisitan culture likes?

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posted March 6, 2010 at 9:15 am

Pastors on Facebook seem about as appropriate as dentists on Facebook. It just doesn’t seem like the right venue befitting that kind of relationship. I have a hard enough time knowing that my Mom and Aunts have access to my personal bubble. Not that I have anything to hide, other than friends that swear a lot, and questionable taste in music, film, literature, and ideas, and I drink.

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posted March 11, 2010 at 3:01 pm

Wow, I’m sure there are pastors like this and churches like the one’s disclosed in some of these blog posts, but I sure don’t know any. Most the pastors I know have churches of 100-300 people and work very hard to just make ends meet. They sacrifice and love their people where they’re at, which means that sometimes these people have no natural respect for the clergy… more like they think of them on the level that people have presented them in movies and media… as insincere people. But willing to start at the same point as any relationship, these pastors help people see what Christ is all about by loving people where they’re at and leading them to the place they’ve discovered in Christ.
Like I say… I don’t know any pastors other than these kind… and don’t care to.

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