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By Jonathan Howe

When churches have Facebook pages, negative comments will come your way. Whether it’s a former church member, someone from the community, or an online troll, it’s likely that at some point someone will comment negatively about your church on Facebook.

So what do you do? Do you defend the church? Do you just delete the comment and move on?

How you respond depends on three things, mainly.

  1. Is this a legitimate concern? If the concern is legitimate, respond courteously to the commenter and ask to follow up with them via email, on the phone, or in person. Most likely, they want to know they’ve been heard. By taking the conversation offline, you can have an informative conversation in the right context. Because of the lack of context online, discussions can unintentionally become inflammatory in nature. By going offline, cooler heads often prevail and the concern can be adequately addressed. It also allows you to gather appropriate information to provide a fully informed answer.
  2. Is the commenter uninformed or inappropriate? This is a judgment call you have to make. Your response depends on the situation. However, whatever your response, it should not be to engage in a public argument with the commenter. If you decide to respond, remember that your explanation should be done professionally and courteously. If more discussion is needed after your first response, offer to move the discussion offline to a phone call, email, or meeting.
  3. Is the commenter an online troll? If the commenter is just trolling you or making a baseless comment, then simply delete the comment, ban the person, and move on. Nothing positive comes from fighting online with a troll.

Have you had to deal with this type of issue? Do you have a plan for when it happens to you?

Jonathan Howe serves as Director of Strategic Initiatives at LifeWay Christian Resources as well as the host and producer of Rainer on Leadership and SBC This Week. Jonathan writes weekly at on topics ranging from social media to websites and church communications. Connect with Jonathan on Twitter at @Jonathan_Howe.

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