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23 January 2014

Think before you tweet

Think before you tweet

The Church of England Diocese of Bath and Wells yesterday urged parishioners to exercise caution when using social networks. 

The good practice guidelines implored Christians to remember their duty to represent Christ just as much when they are communicating in the digital world as when they are interacting face-to-face. The guidelines advise users not to 'rush in' and focus on security, confidentiality, legality and caution.

One of the positive traits of social media is the ability to communicate quickly but many people have regretted posts written in haste and there are pitfalls to avoid.

Churchgoers have been told to think before they tweet and nine commandments for using social media follow. Speaking of social media sites, such as Facebook and Twitter, as an important tool in mission - church members are encouraged to spread the Christian message in a way God would approve of.

"Before posting always think: Is this my story to share? Would I want my mum to read this? Would I want God to read this?

"Social media is immediate, interactive, conversational and open-ended. This sets it apart from other forms of communication and demands a new way of thinking," read the Church of England statement.

"Essentially, you should participate online in the same way as you would in any other public forums. Your actions should be consistent with your work and Christian values and you take responsibility for the things you do, say or write," read the guidelines.

Back in 2008, the Alliance gathered together a group of Christian bloggers to discuss the potential of new media as well as the risks involved. At the time, Krish Kandiah, executive director: churches in mission, said: " I began to notice the temptation to blog about something quickly – before I had thought about what I was saying and the potential to damage or even slander someone. So our team decided to look at the best bits about blogging while avoiding the pitfalls."

The outcome of the gathering was 10 blogging commandments guiding Christians on advisable practice as they share their thoughts and communicate in the digital world.

"Since then the Twittersphere capacity and popularity of social networks has exploded. It has become commonplace for us to share our opinions, pictures, location and responses instantly. Let us be aware of the dangers but continue to share the good news in this effective way," added Krish.

The Evangelical Alliance's Evangelical Relationships Commitment outlines considerations as Christians conduct relationships and communicate with others online and offline:

"We call on each other, when speaking or writing of those issues of faith or practice that divide us, to acknowledge our own failings and the possibility that we ourselves may be mistaken, avoiding personal hostility and abuse, and speaking the truth in love and gentleness.

"We owe it to each other, in making public comment on the alleged statements of our fellow Christians, first to confer directly with them and to establish what was actually intended...expressing our opinion with courtesy, humility and graciousness."