Twitter in Church

I recognize that I’m a luddite in some respects.  In fact, I kind of try to be one sometimes, knowing that I can get sucked in fairly easily.  So maybe this isn’t a surprise, but it troubles me to see that there is a growing movement to integrate Twitter into church services.  Yeah, there are some positive applications, but I’m still not sure that they outweigh the negatives that I see.  Some of my concerns…

Life is relational as it should be because God is relational.  Using Twitter distances us from whomever we’re relating to.  We’re not talking face to face; we’re talking face to screen to screen to face.  Why the intermediary that interrupts the relationship?  If we want to say something to someone, how much better is it to speak to them directly?  And if you want the whole congregation to hear what you say, whatever happened to shouting?  For those pastors that answer questions about the sermon from Twitter, couldn’t a discussion time be run with hand-raising just as easily?
Now, there certainly may be situations where someone is nervous about face-to-face relationship or being seen in public, but isn’t that a growing edge for them, then?  That’s a place where they can push into the place of fear and find it cast out (perhaps only in part but gradually more and more) by love (1 John 4:18).  Where else should there be a better environment where we learn to give and receive love?

Church services are a place where we come to worship God, but so many times what goes up on Twitter posts in services are things that are focused on the self in intention if not in content.  I fear for those people who are spending their time in church thinking about what to post on Twitter (and why?  For attention, to be funny, because they feel like everyone else is, etc. perhaps?) rather than thinking about their Father, their hearts, and other people.

Similarly, where are people focused in the service?  Just how distracted from God are they by the screens that are displaying people’s Twitter commentary?  To complicate matters is the hypnotic refresh rate of computer screens and digital projections.  While not everybody is highly susceptible to hypnosis, most people are at least partially (men more than women.  Women, feel free to make whatever conclusions you’d like.), and another screen gives another place for the brain to drop out of full awareness and into “the zone”.

Don’t we all spend enough time in front of glowing rectangles?  How would it affect our hearts to make church services a place that looks and feels different than our ordinary lives – a place of separation (a major aspect of holiness) and retreat where we can come to be refreshed, challenged, and loved?

This is not to say that Twitter is evil.  How could it be?  It’s a tool.  But the application of it can be unwise, not to mention the unintended consequences of those applications.  A skip around the ‘net shows that some churches are actually having success in using Twitter to facilitate ministries, coordinate groups, and encourage relationship, and that’s great!  But many of those are not during services, and additionally, is Twitter the only way to go about this?  Those same benefits that people are obtaining can surely be garnered in another way without some of the potential drawbacks I’ve noted.  How can we better facilitate relationships that are more direct and, a somehow strange but I think appropriate choice of words, personal?

We grow in Christ through relationship.  I don’t want to see it interrupted.  We find space to be open to experiencing God in worship.  I don’t want to see that watered down.  But you may disagree.  Please, express your thoughts.

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