Stop Posting #PrayFor Graphics Every Tragedy

Justin Dean
Jul 7, 2016 · 3 min read

Church, can we please stop rushing to post a trendy graphic every time there is a tragedy?

Every terrorist attack, earthquake, or shooting, churches rush to create crafty little graphics to post to their social media accounts. It’s usually some kind of relevant photo or landscape with a #PrayFor hashtag.

You know what I mean? I won’t share examples because I don’t want to offend specific churches. But maybe you posted something similar after the recent police shootings of two black men in Louisiana and Minnesota. Or after the Orlando nightclub shooting.

When tragedy strikes, it’s panic mode to get something up, as if people aren’t going to pray until their church posts a graphic about it. Which is silly of course, considering everyone’s feeds are filled with posts about the tragedy already. You’re not CNN, you don’t need to be the first to break the news.

I see church social media managers posting in Facebook groups, asking for others to share their unedited graphics so they can quickly get something up. People share what they did, almost in an attempt to show each other up with who had the most attractive graphic (yes I know, most of you are just being helpful, but there’s at least a few of you who just felt your gut tighten up.)

It makes you wonder… what is this actually accomplishing? What would happen if you didn’t get a graphic up? Is your post more about showing that you were on top of your job, or were you actually concerned about the tragedy and wanting to do something about it? What value are actually adding to the conversation?

I’ve never seen someone post in those groups asking what other churches are actually doing to help in the time of need.

What is your church actually doing during these tragedies? Are you gathering for prayer? Are you fundraising for the cause? Are you providing educational materials on the subject matter at hand? Are you assembling people to serve in the community? Are you reaching out to those who are hurting to meet their needs? Or are you just hustling to post a cute graphic, then back to business as usual…

How many of you posted a #PrayForOrlando graphic but never actually got on your knees and prayed for those people and their families? Now that a couple weeks have gone by and the panic has subsided, how many churches are still having conversations or doing anything to reach out to the LGBT community?

Hear me on this… I’m just as guilty as many of you. I’ve posted countless posts offering support and prayer, wanting to make sure I was included in the conversation and not the one guy who was silent.

Surely I’m not saying there is anything wrong with posting a graphic or asking people to pray. There’s also nothing wrong with jumping on a hashtag trend and adding content to the stream.

What I’m proposing is that we just take a step back and make sure we have an intentional plan that matches up with our vision and purpose as a church. And to assess whether we are simply trying to be trendy, or are we trying to make a difference?

Next time there’s a shooting or some other tragedy, instead of a #PrayFor graphic, I encourage you to slow down, take a step back and ask what your church actually has to add to the conversation before posting anything. What can your church actually do to help?

Tragedies are going to continue to happen and the church has a great opportunity to step up and show the world how to respond. We should be setting the trend for how to take action when people are hurt, not just setting the trend on how to create beautiful graphics.

Churches should set the trend for how to take action during a tragedy not just post cute graphics on social media.

Originally published at on July 7, 2016.

Justin Dean

Written by

Helping churches relate & engage online. Co-Founder @thatchurchconf. Former Comms Director @marshill.

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