Have you ever wondered what possible use your church might have for a Twitter account? I put the question out there with a tweet and someone replied, “Churches don’t tweet because they have nothing to say.” I don’t believe that’s true. Churches have lots to say. But I can think of three other reasons why a church might not see the value in Twitter.
I believe the three reasons why a church might not use Twitter are:
1. They wonder how anything meaningful can be communicated in 140 characters.
2. They can’t see how a global social media tool benefit their local context.
3. They don’t understand how it works.
Rick Warren had a negative view of Twitter too. What use, he wondered, could a tweet be? How could anybody say anything meaningful in only 140 characters? During an interview he asked John Piper, who was an avid twitter user at the time, why he used Twitter. Piper’s response was simple:
We’re called to glorify God’s name in every space, including the digital space.
But why Twitter?
Well, there are a number of reasons why your church should use Twitter, and how. But I’ll keep this post down to what I consider to be the two big reasons.
1. Personal Exercise for the Pastor
This might sound strange, or even self-serving. But my recent research and training revealed that a good message delivered from the pulpit will be clear, understood and emotionally impacting if its one big idea can be distilled down to a single phrase or sentence. And this is not easy to do.
Earlier this year I attended a minister’s conference that centred around “the preaching event.” The instructor separated the room of ministers into small groups of four, assigned each group a particular passage from the Bible from which we might hypothetically preach from, and instructed us to find the “one big idea” from that passage and then to distill that idea into a “single, pregnant, powerful, brief” sentence.
This proved to be quite the challenge.
Then the instructor shared this bit of wisdom: “A mist in the pulpit is a fog in the pew.” If you can’t distill the one big idea from your sermon down into a powerful, brief and pregnant statement, then you’re not clear about your topic, and your audience will simply not get what you’re trying to say.
According to Carmine Gallo in his book, Talk Like Ted, that ideal statement should be 140 characters or less. So tweeting, for a pastor, is good exercise that will benefit the people of your church.
2. Reaches Your Local Community
The fact is, most of the young people in your local community are on twitter, and recently I read of a pastor who challenged his congregation with this question:
What would you be willing to change if it meant your kids or grandkids would come back to church?
With one voice your response was as it ought to be in every church where the primary focus is making disciples of Jesus Christ: “Anything.”
So why not take to twitter if that’s where the people are that you want to reach?
Admittedly it can seem fruitless and daunting. You probably see people tweeting all the time with little results. Maybe you have a personal or church twitter account and see little results and why wonder you should even both.
Well, if that’s you, there’s a great article I want to point you to. It’s called “How to Use Social Media to Enhance Live Events” by Caroline McCain, the communications and media director at Grace Covenant Church in Chantilly,Virginia. I’m convinced that article will fire you up and get you excited to give Twitter a try for your next event.
At the end of the day, if the people in your community use Twitter as one of their primary ways to communicate and stay informed, then your church should develop a social media (and, in light of this post, especially a Twitter) strategy to connect with them where they are at.
Question: What other reasons would you add to my list? How has your church used Twitter successfully? You can leave a comment by clicking here.