The other day I posted a link to Tim Challies article Don’t Tweet That Sermon and although I agree with almost everything that he said in that article, I myself would consider tweeting tweetable moments from a sermon. For one, when I use the ESV app while reading sections of the Scriptures that are being covered that morning has a “Tweet” option.
The first reason Challies gave for not tweeting was that it changes the local message of the sermon to a global message of the sermon. I see things as allowing for Kingdom Impact to occur. I have had many moments where I will tweet a verse and have someone message me back saying that they either read those verses that morning, or their church is speaking on the same topic. That interaction leads to more conversation about the sermons and how God is working in both communities and how he is speaking to us individually about the topic, or themes.
I have to say that when I post something on Facebook, or Twitter it is not always thinking about how others will respond. I know that they can respond to what I am posting, but it is not necessarily the first thing on my mind. I don’t think about how many re-tweets or likes I will receive when I post as Tim Challies would say.
As you send out updates via social media, you are now thinking about how other people need this message more than how you need it. You are trying to apply it to them rather than yourself. This is one way in which tweeting is inherently different from writing notes in a notebook. You take notes primarily for your own benefit and as a way of helping your memory. You tweet for the sake of others.
I think with the ability to search through your tweets and timeline it is actually easier to recall an old post rather than find those notes in an old notebook. Hashtags make searching for keywords easier and quicker to locate key quotes that I want to find later. I am not annoyed, or find it rude when I see the youth in our congregation posting on what is going on in the service because I have found that if they are posting on the sermon than they are engaging the message and placing it within the context of their lives. Their Facebook walls and their Twitter feeds are their notebooks.
If they post the sermon notes, or thoughts they have they have a broader audience to share their faith with. If they write it in a notebook would their peers ever see, or witness that part of their life? I have family members that I know that do not go to church, but if they follow me on Twitter, or Facebook there is no way that you can miss the fact that Jesus is apart of my life and how I live out my faith.
I often find that when I tweet in a sermon it is not just a phrase that is ‘tweetable,’ but often times I tweet what I would write down in my notes. I don’t think Twitter reduces a sermons message as I often have to write short forms out in my notes because of the speed of the preacher and the lack of writing speed due to my pre-teen like printing.
Where I do think Twitter differs from taking notes is in the fact that there is a two-way. Here is what Tim had to say.
Twitter is two-way, so that when you open the program, you are barraged with other messages from other people. That is the whole point of it! We may attempt to keep ourselves from being distracted, but this is a fool’s errand; the medium is inherently distracting and inherently responsive. We may resist for a while, but in time we will end up reading as well as writing.
I do know that I am just as distracted by someone writing as I am by someone tweeting in the service. I really think the question of to tweet, or not to tweet comes down to personally preference. I think the problem lies in whether, or not you tweet without looking for responses, or you allow Twitter to distract you from the sermon. At that point though the problem is not with Twitter, but in your own attention span.
I do see both positives and negatives to engaging social media while listening to a sermon and it is in that one word we find our problem.
I feel that although Twitter and Facebook can take away from our ability to be engaged by the pastor, I do think that tweeting what matters to you from the sermon has a huge opportunity to engage an audience that might not get the chance to hear God’s word any other way. It is because of that ability to reach a vast amount of peers that Twitter and Facebook can be a tool for evangelism in our students life.
I think that we as leaders need to ask very specific questions when it comes to social media in this context.
Are we engaging in what is meaningful to us in the sermon and sharing that, or are we just texting between friends?
Are we using Scripture to enhance the work of God, or are we using Scripture to point out faults in the lives of the people we know?