So, yesterday we rolled out our first Twitter conversation session during the sermon. Some of you don’t know what Twitter even is, and even some of those of you who do will wonder why in the world anyone would want to tweet away during a church sermon!
Twitter allows you to use 140 characters to write a tweet about anything – that message being sent to all those who have agreed to be your followers. You can follow a subject, or write about a particular subject by using the symbol “#” – which in this world is called a hashtag.
For example, I could use my Twitter account to search #Orioles and find out what everyone everywhere is saying about the Baltimore Orioles – the most recent comment being at the top of the list. This is, by the way, the main reason that I use Twitter.
Until this past weekend, my only Twitter account name was @osayorioles. I have 113 followers on this account, about 90% of whom are fellow baseball sportswriters from across the country. To do something where I’d communicate with people at church, however, I decided to use another account and name (because all those sportswriter guys would sure be confused by my “spiritual” tweets during a service – not that it would necessarily be so bad – but I don’t want to jam up their Twitter feed with a local conversation.)
So, I used the name of my blog to have a second Twitter account … now I’m @thewordofrandy. And Chris and I decided that a good hashtag to use for a community conversation during a service would be #tsftalk.
Let me illustrate why we could do this by telling you what it is like during an Orioles baseball game to be tweeting and getting tweets. I can be watching the game on TV, and there may be as many as 20 other people also watching the game – all of us with Twitter accounts open on computer on phone. Now, let’s say Mark Reynolds of the Orioles commits an error by missing a ground ball (a very believable and realistic illustration). Someone may tweet “Reynolds is just too fat to play 3rd base #orioles” … and someone may say, “I hate seeing Reynolds out there, but who else do we really have #orioles”. And the conversation is off and running with lots of people chiming in and agreeing or arguing – all while the game is going on.
So, this is a way to have an interactive conversation while listening to the sermon. For example, yesterday I began the conversation by picking up on Chris’ first point – about living between two worlds – and wrote, “So how many of you feel you are living between two worlds? #tsftalk” Since we did not get the hashtag on the screen enough, the conversations were not extensive, but one young man said, “I feel it especially in the world of science #tsftalk”. Several other people made comments on major points of the sermon – sort of like giving an electronic “amen.”
Here is where Twitter could have been used in the time of Jesus. In the account of Mary washing the feet of Jesus with perfume, Simon the Pharisee thought to himself, “If this man were a prophet, he would know who is touching him and what kind of woman she is—that she is a sinner.” If he had Twitter, he could have sent that out as a tweet to all his followers! But still, even if Jesus did not have a Twitter account (@thesonofGod), he would have still known what Simon tweeted!
I don’t expect that a majority of people will be tweeting during sermons, but this is an extra way of learning and engaging with the text and the topic of the day.