The report offering guidance to Methodists on the use of Social Media has generated a fair bit of comment from my blogging friends. Some of that comment has been helpful, others less so. One blogger is imposing guidelines of his own, censoring or removing perfectly reasonable comments whilst screaming about gagging. That’s life. I was glad to see that Dave Warnock has found the opportunity to share his thoughts. Gladder still to read the contribution from Angela Shier-Jones, which has to be the best thing that’s come out of this conversation so far.
For my part God, I guess I would simply remind those who might feel stifled by the guidelines to remember their responsibility to the Church - to make available those means of grace that enable us all to grow in holiness.. We are called by you to confer with one another - as widely as possible - as often as possible - in whatever means possible - that is a higher responsibility than mere obedience to corporate loyalty.
We have a shared responsibility as the Church to hold the Church accountable - not for getting it right or wrong - but for opening up those debates that will enable your people to be moved by your Holy Spirit to participate in the conversations you want us to have so that we may discern your will.
If the guidelines ever became rules..
If a minister was ever disciplined for tweeting out of time…
If the contrary voice was ever fully silenced..
Then I suspect it will be time to be honest about having ceased to be a Church that believes in the means of grace.
The strange thing is that the paper which has excited so much attention doesn’t really do any more than remind us what our responsibilities are. It’s not like it says anything especially radical or anything.
I read a reminder today of one reason why this subject has become important. 70% of hiring managers in in US have rejected candidate just because of their online reputation. What we say online and how we say it are only going to increase in importance in the coming years in helping others come to a mind about the kind of people we are. Our online reputations will be (if they are not already) a significant part of our life and witness, affecting our relationships and even our employment. That places a responsibility on bloggers and other e-citizens not only to be careful of our own reputations, but to pay particular care to the reputation of others.