Twibal church


I was leading a conference, and I asked a question. The people in the room answered it, and an academic guy twittered the question to his followers.

His wife hit him. Just on the arm. Then, she told him to put the iPhone up because he was being rude.

Academic guy came up to me during a break, and asked if he was being rude. Although I don’t often like taking sides in marital disputes, I had to say. “No.”

I like it when people twitter during conferences, and even worship. This is why…

There is always a bit of tug-of-war going on with me when I’m doing presentations. Especially when they’re short ones. You see, it’s proven that most people don’t really remember things unless they have had a chance to talk. Think about it, the next time you attend a lecture or a workshop. The facts that I always remember the most are the ones that I have engaged with, through discussion or even an argument.

So I try to make sure that there’s a bit of space for people kick certain topics around. Discuss them, explore how they apply to their situations. I usually encourage disagreement.

But then I can get feedback that people did not come to hear the pastor down the road talk, they came to hear the presenter talk. If I don’t get through the material, participants get frustrated and feel cheated.

But, twittering gives people an opportunity to write down what I say, ask me questions, talk to other people, without necessarily disturbing the flow of conversation at the moment. So it’s like we can have the best of both worlds: discussion and the processing of information, as well as a presentation.

Not only that, but many events use hashtags (that’s # plus a code), so anyone who might be interested in the event can read about. I love searching hashtags. When I can’t make it to something, I follow the highlights, find out what people are saying.

But there are plenty who don’t agree with me. They still think it’s rude. In fact, most people who don’t Twitter can’t comprehend why it’s so fascinating. After all, “The one thing you can say for certain about Twitter is that it makes a terrible first impression.”


16 thoughts on “Twibal church

  1. You are correct about how people learn from workshops and I agree twittering is a good way for people to get down your main ideas to share and discuss.

    But doing this is a generational thing. Over 50 and maybe it seems like rudeness as one probably grew up without computers; under 40 and its probably OK as one has been communicating with a keyboard in some way for most of her/his life. Those of us like me who are over 60 work hard at getting comfortable with facebook and twitter, but are doing it. Facebook just came out with a statistic that more people over 55 are signing up than those in their teens/twenties. So soon you may have fewer and fewer spouses telling their “better half” to stop twittering in a workshop. : )

  2. #foggypresbys. That’s a great one!


    I’m reading “The New Rules for Digital Gentlemen and other Highly Evolved Humans” and they have rules like “Never broadcast you relationship status on facebook,” “Friend you boss, but not your boss’ boss,” and they say that “texting is OK while in the company of others.”

    I think twitter falls in the same arena as texting. They say that teens text as an inclusive gesture. So it’s good, unless it shuts out the people you’re with or annoys the people around you.

  3. You really got me thinking about the availability of wifi in our churches. I have an iPod Touch, but not an iPhone, so I don’t have the guarantee of constant signal. I serve one church that has its wifi “open” and one that has it protected. What does this say about stewardship/hospitality, etc? My point being, we have to be able to Tweet to be able to use Twitter.

  4. Blogging has the potential for more volume, and most likely more substance. But Twitter has more potential for a farther reach and more conversation, IMO.

    I have over 1000 twitter followers due to a World of Warcraft podcast that I do, but I twitter quite a bit of church and faith stuff. And I have had some great conversations with people of different faiths, no religious faith, and other Christian flavors through Twitter.

    You can interact with plenty of people on twitter who would never care about or visit your blog. I think many blogs come to be a gated community of people who have mutual interest in the blog’s topic. It can make good conversation and substance, but it’s much more homogeneous than twitter.

  5. If I’m preaching, and I see someone on their Blackberry, my basic assumption is that they are not paying attention to the sermon. My guess is that they are checking work email.

    The Sabbath day is our day of freedom, our day of not making bricks for Pharaoh. To drag our slavery into worship, unless absolutely necessary, demeans us as human beings.

  6. I think there’s a huge gulf between a conference and worship. In worship we are there to meet God and I see no function for texting or tweeting in this context. A conference or seminar is completely different in that we are usually there to learn and that would be a thoroughly appropriate place to text or twitter.

    That being said, please don’t ask me to turn off my phone as I often use the notepad on my i-phone to take notes during a sermon.

    • Neil! It’s good to see your name. I hope that all is well in Minnesota.

      I don’t usually assume that people are checking email when they have their blackberries/iphones in worship. Or they might be.

      If they have to break the sabbath/worship to check work email, usually I’m just happy they came to church, because it would have been much easier for them to stay home and work all day (after all, that’s what all of their friends are doing).

      But I do feel some compassion for those (including me) who are wired all the time. Like you, Rick, some wonderful, retired members of our congregation tell me that it’s “modern-day slavery.” I think you might have a point….

      But the thing that made me pause when I had this conversation with the retired members was that they weren’t judgmental toward the younger members. They were concerned.

      I think that’s why we’ve been able to make the generational shift in our church–because the older members are pretty good at accepting lifestyle changes around a variety of things (technology, women working, child rearing, etc.), and they don’t assume the worst when there is one.

  7. Pingback: Faith and Social Media : presbymergent

  8. My pastor husband and I have been talking about the possibility of actively encouraging twittering during sermons. It started out when I commented that after having sat in grad school classes for the last two years, I found it difficult not to immediately engage in some type of discussion about something that challenged the way I thought or provided an ‘Ah, Ha!’ moment.

    I also think it may provide an opportunity to understand what message is received from a sermon, teaching or presentation in ways we have never had access to previously. As a com geek, that is exciting. After all “It’s not what you say, it’s what people hear.”

    We have yet to do more than kick ideas around. Maybe this is the push we needed to just jump in and experiment in a limited way.

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