Every time a new technology is introduced it is greeted with a mixture of suspicion and fear. This is particularly true, unfortunately, for the Church!
However, over the history of Christianity, different technologies have been appropriated for the good of the Kingdom of God! Without the scores of medieval monks illustrating manuscripts of scripture and other great thinkers, modern Western Civilisation simply would not exist! William Tyndale took advantage of the invention of the printing press to get copies of his bible in English in the hands of ordinary people. In more recent times film and television have been used (not always very well!) to share the Good News.
Now we’re living in perhaps the most significant period in history for technological change and world communications. Social media tools such as Twitter and Facebook mean that messages can travel the world virally in seconds. Christianity is a religion which is spread by word of mouth from person to person. It’s always been ‘viral’ – only now, it can be even more so!
Here is a video imagining the gospels played out through Twitter. It’s a very creative way of presenting the gospel story but it also is good for giving you an idea of how Twitter works! Enjoy!
There are a lot of misconceptions about social media. If I mention Twitter people will usually respond with such comments as:
‘Isn’t it just people writing about what they’ve had for breakfast?’
‘It’s a bit narcissistic isn’t it?’
‘It’s just inane celebrity chat’
‘Noise – that’s all it is!’
Deciding Twitter is a waste of time is a bit like saying phones are a waste of time because people use them to send each other pointless texts!
So my first point is:
Twitter is a tool. Think of it like a phone, a computer, a piece of paper and a pen…
Twitter is primarily about sharing things (comments, news, links, pictures, videos) you think other people would find interesting. Twitter can be used on a number of different devices as well – through a computer, a mobile phone, a laptop or tablet like an iPad – this means that messages shared on Twitter can be instant. The great thing about Twitter is that you choose what you see. If you don’t want to read about what Paris Hilton had for breakfast, simply don’t follow her! On the other hand, you can follow inspirational people and be really encouraged!
Once you begin to think of Twitter like this you can imagine how it might be used by Christians.
Here are my 6 ways Christians can use Twitter:
It’s easy to share an encouraging bible verse or quote in a tweet. You could ‘retweet’ (ie. Repeat) a message from a preacher you follow on Twitter (like Rick Warren for example) or you could say something like ‘my bible verse today was John 3:16, it really encouraged me’.
Ask for prayer or encourage others to pray for an issue. Sometimes prayer requests can become ‘trending topics’ – that means lots of people are using the same words in their tweets. For example, in the recent earthquake and tsunami, ‘pray for Japan’ became a trending topic.
For sharing your faith:
Share what’s happening in your life. Share what God is doing in your life – your joys and your suffering. It’s much easier to tweet something than say it to a colleague at work – and if they ‘follow’ you on Twitter who knows, they might ask you about something you tweet? If you write a blog you can tweet links to your blog posts.
For growing in your faith:
Lots of great Christian thinkers, preachers and worship leaders are on Twitter. ‘Follow’ them on Twitter to learn from them, get links to interesting articles and blogs and grow in your faith.
For campaigning for justice and fundraising:
Lots of campaigns and petitions can be started through Twitter and can go viral. The protesters in Iran in 2009 used Twitter to get their message out to the world. There are lots of great causes that you can support on Twitter to raise funds, campaign for justice and lobby the government.
For sharing what’s happening in your church community:
You could tweet about what you’re doing in small group, you could even Tweet the main points of a sermon on a Sunday (although this is controversial and it can be hard to persuade people that you’re not just playing with your phone!) You could also use Twitter to advertise events such as church fetes or holiday clubs.
So would Jesus have tweeted? Perhaps not, he didn’t write anything down, but funnily enough, he was good at the short pithy statement – I can imagine Peter following Him around with a phone and tweeting the things Jesus was saying! Whatever, I hope I might have whetted your appetite to try twitter. Here is my four part guide to Twitter:
Why should I join Twitter?
Creating your Twitter profile
Tweeting and Twitter terminology
Managing the flow of information on Twitter
Feel free to add a comment below or ask me any questions about using Twitter!