Monday, May 4, 2009


Recently, Time magazine posted an on-line article about twittering in church. The link is here:,8599,1895463,00.html

Twitter is an on-line micro-blogging service. In 140 characters or less people answer the question, “what are you doing?” That is known as a tweet. I think of Twitter as streamlined Facebook. Facebook has more bells and whistles than Twitter.

On Twitter, folks then sign-up to follow others. So if I have a certain number of “followers” that number of people can instantly know what I post.

I signed up for a Twitter account and try to post a tweet at least once every week day. If I was really “into” Twitter I would post many more tweets--maybe one a hour.

I find Twitter interesting. There are all sorts of ministry possibilities that could be explored via Twitter. Recently I signed up to follow some pastors who spoke at the Exponential Conference. I find it interesting to follow what they are doing during the day. In that sense it’s a form of job shadowing.

I wonder if people could do Bible Study via Twitter. Say at 7:00 p.m. on a certain night a group of ten people did Bible Study via Twitter. The moderator could post a thought and then everyone else could jump in with responses. People would then be doing Bible Study in community from their own home.

Some churches have started using Twitter during worship and during teaching events. People in the congregation post a tweet that is directed to a public screen All of a sudden a conversation is taking place on a screen—albeit a public conversation. Think, public texting. The leader of the event could then respond to the Tweets--answer questions that are tweeted and provide other responses.

As I just wrote I personally find Twitter interesting. If I was leading a worship experience that was edgy and targeted to 20 somethings I wouldn’t hesitate at all to use Twitter during worship.
Context is everything. If I was leading worship for a group of people 65 and over I wouldn’t even think of using Twitter—I probably would make fun of it among that group.

I look at social media as a cultural phenomenon whose popularity is forcing itself to be discussed and used inside faith communities.

I think how churches view Twitter illustrates their view of culture and how the church is going to engage culture.

There is a long history of the culture forcing churches to make changes in ministry.

Five to ten years ago the popular cultural phenomenon was video projectors and screens. That phenomenon forced itself into churches. In the 15th century one popular cultural phenomenon was the printing press. That forced churches to start using printed Bibles in ministry. Twitter is just the latest cultural phenomenon that some churches are using for ministry.

I think a key question is how deeply are we win the church willing to engage the culture.

No one should go away from reading this blog thinking that I—Paul Moore—wake up in the middle of the night thinking how our new church can use twitter or for that matter any new cultural phenomenon that is knocking on our door. What I've always believed is our main-line Presbyterian tradition is broad enough to engage the culture and new cultural phenomenon. Just by thinking that Twitter might be a tool for ministry doesn’t mean I’m pulling up the anchors of our tradition.

One of my favorite sayings is “Jesus was the most innovative leader in the history of religion, but the church is one of the slowest institutions to change. Why is that?”

Help me out—why is that?

I know that Presbyterians like to think of ourselves as having a ministry in the world. To take that thought a step farther then--if the world is using Twitter aren't we going to use it for ministry?

Too often it seems that main-line congregations seem beholden to traditions and practices that worked 20 or 30 or even 40 years ago. I’ve been in meetings with main-line pastors where the possibility of showing a video during worship was viewed like committing adultery—adultery to our tradition.

I don’t think churches are called to be museums. I love going to huge cathedrals that worship in a way that the 16th century Reformers would recognize. But I also enjoy worshipping with a Praise Band, videos, and power point slides.

As a Presbyterian I believe in the motto “Reformed and reforming according to the Word of God.” Can’t Twitter be a reforming tool for ministry?

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