My tips on managing your personal Facebook account – how to hide certain things from certain people!


Having a Facebook account as a clergy person and also as anyone else who works closely with the public is fraught with all sorts of etiquette and safety problems. I have a lot of teacher friends on Facebook that have recently changed their name to a nickname so that they can’t be easily found by parents wanting to cause trouble. Many clergy struggle with getting friend requests from parishioners – it feels mean to say ‘no’ to a friend request but we clergy also have a private life that we don’t necessarily want to share with everyone in church. Lots of people have different ways of dealing with this, here is what some people I know do:

  • Don’t be on Facebook at all
  • Never accept a friend request from a parishioner
  • Create two Facebook profiles – one for the vicar and one for the person behind closed doors

The problem with these, for me at least, is that you miss out from sharing what’s going on at church with a wide group of people (although I would of course recommend you have a Facebook page for your church). Also, Facebook can be a place where you can offer pastoral support and maybe only even find out that someone is struggling because they’ve posted something on Facebook (but said they were fine at the church door on Sunday). Running two profiles is quite fiddly and there is always the potential for mixing them up – although I know some people who find this the best way to deal with these dilemmas.

My solution is to use Friend Lists.

I have created a list of Friends that are people that I’m willing to be friends with on Facebook but with whom I don’t share everything. This way I can post things I’m happy for people to know about – such as a coffee morning at church, and hide things like a picture of me and my husband at an anniversary meal.

To create a new list:
  1. Go to Home when logged in to Facebook.
  2. Click Friend Lists under Explore on the left side of your News Feed.
  3. Click Create List.
  4. Enter a name for your list and the names of friends you’d like to add. Keep in mind you can add or remove friends from your lists at any time.
  5. Click Create.

Once you have done that, when you create a new post in Facebook, you can select the audience the post is to be shared with:

facebook friends list

So in this image above I have set this post to Friends except – the list called ‘Church Restricted’. So anyone on that list wouldn’t see that umpteenth post about how brilliant Game of Thrones was last night!

If you’re unsure if this has worked once you’ve set it up, you can at any time see what your Facebook profile looks like to the general public or to a specific person by clicking  on your profile page next to where it says ‘view activity log’ and then clicking on ‘view as’:

Facebook view as

Then it will take you to this page and you can view as the Public or as a specific person.

facebook view as public

This is really useful and helps you to see if you might have over-shared! You can always go back and remove particular posts – just click on the tiny v in the top right of any post to edit or remove a post or to change the audience:

Facebook edit




What is the source of ‘Chewbacca Mom’ Candace’s joy?


This is how to give a reason for the hope that you have (1 Peter 3:15)

When we think about mission and evangelism, about sharing our faith, we are often pointed to this verse in Peter’s first letter:

Always be prepared to give an answer to everyone who asks you to give the reason for the hope that you have. But do this with gentleness and respect (1 Peter 3:15 NIV)


This is Candace’s current Facebook Profile Picture! Hope she doesn’t mind my using it!

I can’t think of a better example of doing this than from the famous ‘Chewbacca Mom’, Candace Payne, whose delightful infectious joy in a video she posted on Facebook last week went ridiculously viral with millions of views. Following this she was interviewed on Buzzfeed and asked the source of her joy and gave this beautiful and masterful response. Watch the video from 3.19 minutes in.

Thinking about using social media for your church? Start here


Over the last few years I have been asked a number of times to help churches get started with social media. Now I’m ordained I no longer have so much time available to help people but I was often surprised by how much little thought was put into the who, what, when, how and whys of starting to use a new way of communicating. So I created this flowchart. If you want to start using social media, why not use this as a discussion point at your PCC or a team meeting. Before you even think about a Facebook page or twitter, you need to know how and why you want to create one!

Once you’ve been through this chart you may want to look at these articles:

Beginning to blog

My guide to Facebook for churches

My guide to Twitter

Planning your church's social media

Much improved search function in Facebook


On the Android Facebook app (and I’m assuming the Apple version too) the search function is a lot better than it used to be. I discovered this almost by accident searching for a picture I knew I’d seen on Facebook of High Force Waterfall. Now, when you search the top results show if a friend of yours shared something on that topic:


No more time spent scrolling through trying to find ‘that funny video’!

Once you click on the search term you are then presented with a series of categories:







and others.

This also serves as a quick reminder to check the audience you are sharing things with. If you see the globe icon next to your post it means that it is public on the Internet.

Just thought I’d let you know.

Hammy and hokey but fun, my review of ITV’s Midwinter of the Spirit


This autumn saw ITV release a new drama with a clerical lead, Midwinter of the Spirit, based on the popular books by Phil Rickman. Of course, I had to tune in, given that the main character, Merrily Watkins (bit of a daft name) is a woman priest recently trained in the art of Deliverance Ministry (or what-we-used-to-call exorcism).

During my training I had more than one person ask me if I would get to ‘go ghost hunting’ as a priest. Because of films like the Exorcist the whole area of priests and demons is a source of much fascination – the two often go together, although in the popular imagination, the exorcist priest is always a man and always Roman Catholic. So Phil Rickman, in creating a woman priest exorcist character is tapping directly into this fascination by adding a further layer of interest: what, a woman exorcist? Does the Church of England get involved in that?

Well yes it does as it happens and this TV mini series pulled out all the stops in this dark horror, complete with creepy music and the evil lady’s maid from Downton Abbey playing a sinister occult leader.

Friends of mine that have read the books have said that the character of Merrily was not how they’d imagined her. I haven’t read the books so can’t comment on that. I thought she was quite well-drawn, shown to be a vulnerable woman, a single mother having moved to a new place to help her get over her abusive (?) husband’s death in a car crash. Merrily’s bishop, played by Nicholas Pinnock, is young, black and handsome. So far, so good.

There are a few flaws in the production, however. The horror set ups are a little hammy, the music warning you about each jump (although it is quite genuinely scary, the scene in the hospital will make me nervous about night visits for a while!) The most irritating flaws, however, are down to the costume department. The bishop wears a black cassock over his purple shirt that clearly looks like it’s come from the bottom of a dressing up box. It doesn’t fit him and looks all wrong. It kind of clashes with his character who is sharply dressed and dynamic. Merrily is seen at one point coming out of a baptism service wearing a chasuble with a stole over the top – totally wrong. She also, although this is more a matter of taste than anything, wears a really hideous denim clerical shirt! Why is this an issue? Well you could argue that people watching Casualty or The Bill would point out similar errors (my husband is always pointing out the cheap stethoscopes doctors use on Casualty that you’d never be seen dead using). Make a programme about a particular profession and people are always going to point out mistakes. However, for me, it is important to get these things right – and not that difficult. Many people will have watched Midwinter of the Spirit and found out for the first time that Church of England vicars do get involved with deliverance ministry. The programme will have had a lot of curious viewers. So to get some of the basics wrong just lent the whole thing an air of inauthenticity, and perhaps, incompetence. This was frustrating as it somewhat diluted the thrill of having a black bishop and a single mum priest on prime time television.

For the sake of the drama/plot quite a few rules are broken. I can’t imagine someone being made Diocesan Exorcist by a bishop when they’ve barely completed the training. But then, rules and regulations (especially those of the Byzantine Church of England) certainly do not make for compelling television!

That said, I predicted when interviewed about my book earlier this year that we would see more vicar characters on TV precisely because ministry in the Church is an area alien to a lot of people, and therefore arouses curiosity. Coupling this with a bit of horror tapped right into people’s fascination with the darker edges of ministry today.

On the whole I enjoyed this new thriller, I liked the fact that the lead character was a woman priest and was well-rounded and realistically portrayed, experiencing the same challenges as any other single parent might. I enjoyed the exploration of the occult and the hokey historical storyline of saints and demons. Roll on series 2!

More TV Vicar? Christians on the Telly: The Good, the Bad and the Quirky by Bryony Taylor, is available now in paperback and eBook priced £9.99.

This review first appeared on the DLT Blog.

Facebook needs to reinstate a ban on all beheading videos #banbeheading


I was emailed by a friend last night and alerted to the fact that Facebook had reversed a ban on videos showing graphic violence such as beheadings. The BBC reported it last night. Then today PM David Cameron tweeted:

After I hastily looked for a petition to sign against this and had an email exchange on what could be done last night, today I was invited to speak on News Hour on Premier Radio. You can listen to the interview here:


I have been trying to decide what is the best course of action. I’m hoping that partly the media furore this has caused will make Facebook reconsider this move. A spokeswoman for Facebook said:

“Facebook has long been a place where people turn to share their experiences, particularly when they’re connected to controversial events on the ground, such as human rights abuses, acts of terrorism and other violent events. However, since some people object to graphic video of this nature, we are working to give people additional control over the content they see. This may include warning them in advance that the image they are about to see contains graphic content.”

I believe that the argument that people share these videos to raise awareness of human rights abuses is fundamentally flawed. We don’t need to watch a video of someone being beheaded to know that it is wrong – not to mention the psychological damage to us from seeing these images (and they are not only detrimental to children but to adults as well). Having a warning that the image contains graphic content is an enticing statement (I have to admit that kind of warning usually makes me want to watch the content – so I’m sure children would be even more likely to want to see all the gory details). This clearly does not go far enough. Facebook needs to reinstate the ban immediately.

What seems very strange to me is that Facebook’s own policy on videos is stated as follows:

Photos and videos containing nudity, drug use or other graphic content are not allowed on Facebook. We also don’t allow photos or videos that glorify violence or attack an individual or group.

How these violent videos of beheadings do not violate this policy I do not know.

In an attempt to do something more about this I have created a twibbon campaign.

Ban videosIf you agree with me you may well want to sign the petition and also change your Facebook profile picture here until Facebook reverses their reckless and dangerous decision.

I will post up here any further campaigns and details as they become available.

Update 23 October

Things are moving at facebook but perhaps not far enough: Facebook in death clip policy U-turn

Facebook has a spring clean – a quick look at the new look


Facebook announced today that it is having a ‘spring clean’ of the ‘news feed’ part of the network. This short video explains a bit about why:


The new design has a lot more white space and happens to look an awful lot like Google+! I predicted last year that images were going to be the big deal in Social Media in 2012. This is looking like having no signs of abating. Want to get a status update noticed on Facebook? Add a picture. Seriously.

This time, the revamp looks great, not a million miles from what it’s currently like but definitely a lot easier on the eye. I’m hoping, therefore, that this won’t release the avalanche of complaints from the launch of the new timeline back in Autumn 2011. There is also a much better focus on making the platform work well on mobile devices.

What do you think of the new look? If you like it, you can sign up here to be one of the first to get the new look.

facebook new look