Over at A Church For Starving Artists, Jan Edmiston, writes about the challenge of making friends after a certain age, especially when you are in ministry. I agree, having been ordained at the age of 45 and sent to a village, 1800 kilometers away from friends and family, it IS a challenge. While not geographically isolated, as a single woman and minister, it was almost impossible to make intimate friends in the small community. I had wonderful relationships with many of the people, some of whom I continue to connect with via social media, but it wasn’t the same as having a close relationship. After spending four years with that congregation, I accepted a call from a congregation in the city where I had spent most of my adult years and came ‘home.’ Home to family, home to friends I had before I became a minister, home to my hairdresser of 15 years! Trust me, when you have curly hair that most hairdressers find challenging to cut, this is no small consideration.
After six and a half years with that congregation, it became apparent that our time together was coming to an end and I moved on to another congregation in the same city just a few days ago. Being active on social media has been part of my ministry, and I had ‘friended’ everyone in the congregation who had a Facebook profile as well as created a page for the church. Like any minister and congregation, I felt closer and more connected to some people than to others. So I had the opposite problem from Jan Edmiston, how to disconnect from my ministerial role and friendly interactions with them, and create appropriate boundaries?
Unfriending all of them seemed a bit drastic, but I wanted to disconnect in a way that was healthy for both of us. So that it was evident that our relationship had changed. What I decided to do was ‘unfollow’ all of them, so that I don’t see their posts. I am making good use of the ability on Facebook to make lists and limit most of my postings to close friends and family. Of course, anyone can go to my timeline to see what I am up to, and that’s okay, but that’s not the same as seeing my posts on their newsfeed, and some of them subscribe to this blog, so will continue to be connected here. I told them that in a year’s time, we can reconnect if that seems right. The hardest part for me was removing myself as one of the administrators of the church’s page and unliking it. in fact, that was the last thing I did.
No matter what, I will always be thankful for the time we shared together, and they will always remain a part of my heart.
4 thoughts on “Unfriending or Unfriendly”
I have found the disconnecting challenging…and maybe it’s even more so if the move isn’t very far away… None of us wants to sabatage the minister who follows us by continuing to be minister to those she/he is trying to get to know…yet many in congregations don’t seem to understand this part. I think we have to be really clear in our comments when leaving. Like you said, they’ll always be part of our experience and memory …I don’t think they realize that sometimes.
I prefer the separate FB pages… But then, I don’t post a lot on any of them…
Blessings to you as you are finding your way through this change…
So true Pix… and in my case, the congregation doesn’t have another minister yet.
I have considered a ‘ministerial’ fb page, but decided against it. For one thing, I think it’s healthy for parishioners to understand that I have a life apart from the church. For another, I am too lazy. 😉 It’s interesting, life as a minister is often referred to as like living in a fish bowl… social media has made it that way for all who participate.
And Jesus DOES have a fb page: https://www.facebook.com/thesadjesus
An interesting facet of a modern ministry, this social media business. Can you imagine if Jesus had had a Facebook page? What a record for historians! At the very least, we could see if he’d been “in a relationship” with Mary Magdalene, as that seems to be the trending debate. As for you, have you ever considered a page that’s just for you ministerial self? I have my Writer page so that I can connect with food lovers and followers of my writing without subjecting them to 5700 dog pictures or other personal details that are not relevent or appropriate. Just curious. Also I agree about the hairdresser!