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By Rev. Marty Levesque

In the fast-paced world of social media, negativity can feel like an unavoidable nuisance.

Negative comments, from mild criticism to outright attacks, can be disheartening and tempting to simply delete. However, ignoring these comments might not be the best strategy. Engaging with them, when done thoughtfully, can offer valuable benefits for the church.

Firstly, responding to negativity demonstrates transparency and accountability. It shows your audience that you're willing to listen and address concerns, even if they're critical. This can foster trust and build stronger relationships with your followers so long as we resist the impulse to respond in an equally uncharitable manner.

Secondly, engaging with negativity allows you to clarify information or rectify mistakes. If a comment highlights a genuine misunderstanding about your work or mission, addressing it directly can clear the air and prevent further confusion. This proactive approach demonstrates your commitment to providing accurate information and improving your practices.

Furthermore, engaging with negativity can humanize the institutional church or your personal presence on social media. Responding with empathy and professionalism shows that there's a real person behind the account, fostering a sense of connection and authenticity with your audience.

However, it's crucial to remember that not every negative comment requires engagement. Some comments might be solely intended to provoke or disrupt, and responding to them can amplify their negativity. It's important to discern genuine concerns from malicious attacks and prioritize your mental well-being.

Ultimately, engaging with negative comments on social media allows you to take control of the narrative around your church and turn negativity into a positive opportunity. By fostering open communication, addressing concerns, and demonstrating professionalism, you can strengthen your online presence and build lasting connections with your parishioners and seekers.

 Rev. Marty Levesque is the rector of All Saints’ in Waterloo. He served as diocesan social media officer.