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.
In the movie theatre, they go to great lenghs to have people turn their “phones” off. It is annoying to see these lights come on periodically while trying to watch a film. Schools demand – no texting, etc. What you guys are doing is anything to have the young at church, have fun at church. In my view, Jesus would say NO. You are teachers of the Word. I’ve not been in the cafe services but 2 or 3 times. I am being told how often it changes, and that a week ago “older” folks felt pushed out – and that the church is focusing on the young families. While you are at it, teach them to help in the church. Not only with the chairs, but with projects inside and outside the church. Our Lord loves us all, and each can learn from the other. But trying to put secular/social means into worship can be very damaging. There is no committment, no reason to give – time or MONEY (you ought to be watching the empty collection basket go thru Section 2.
I agree with Nancy, and yes I’m of the older generation. It just saddens me to no end seeing how much we imitate the world to try to appear to be “cool” so we can appeal to the unchurched and younger adults. You may get some of the unchurched and they may be churched, but still as lost as ever. If you really want to reach people and draw people to Christ, preach more of God’s word. Try teaching a book of scripture verse by verse and use scripture to explain scripture instead of worldly film clips and quotes from books. Jesus said if He would be lifted up He would draw all men to Himself. God has magnified His Word along with His name and that , I believe, if preached in a more consistent way would revitalize our church. We consistently pray that our church would be known for preaching the word and not just for being another cool church. Please pray and consider the direction the church is going.
The initial spread of the Gospel was a direct result of the constructs of the Roman Empire. Christ and his followers benefited from and used the FIRST social network as a forum for spreading the Gospel. Social media, like twitter, is simply a modern forum that can be leveraged for the greater glory of God’s Kingdom. I think its great, not just because it is cool, but because it is practical!
There are some valid points being made in the comments here, but let me offer another perspective. I’m a 20 something guy so that puts me in the younger people category. Young people experience so much of the world through T.V. and social media and using those mediums to better explain the scriptures is not a bad thing. I don’t use twitter because it doesn’t appeal to me personally but if it appeals to others I think that’s great. As we talk about using the pop culture to attract folks so that they may hear the gospel let’s not forget about early hymn writers who used the tunes from popular songs (maybe even bar songs) for hymn melodies. Using popular elements to draw people to churches is not a new thing. Who is to say that certain elements of the world are not of God? Who is to say that church can’t be fun sometimes as people experience joy in the presence of the Lord? We do need to attract young people to the church so that they may experience the message of Christ as we need to attract people of all ages. Where the problem lies is that we all can be selfish, myself included. We like what we like and the service style that we like and it’s hard to get used to new things. I’ll admit my generation could do a better job of reaching out to older generations and I hope in the future we will. As a church we could do better to unit the generations to worship and serve together, but all must be willing to compromise.
At a previous church I sang in the worship choir and participated in the praise team. Choir members would ask me why I wanted to be involved with that type of music, and praise band members would joke with me about doing the “old music” with the choir. I think both are pleasing to God and have a place in the service, just as taking notes during a service or posting thoughts on twitter have a place. Maybe we could all strive to be more tolerant of each others preferences and together work to find ways that we can bring more people of all ages and backgrounds into a loving church environment so that they can hear the message of Christ, however that messages is presented….
Well said Luke.
I think it’s important for us as a church to have a clear reason for why we do anything. Like Carol said, if we’re simply doing it to be “cool” or “hip”, I think we’ve missed the mark. The challenge before us is how to present the gospel in the most relevant way possible without changing the message itself. A quote I hear from one of our pastors on a regular basis concerning the presentation of the gospel is to “deliver a TIMELESS message in a TIMELY manner.” To quote someone who is (believe it or not) an even more credible source, I’ll reference Paul, who says in 1st Corinthians 9:19-23 “Though I am free and belong to no man, I make myself a slave to everyone, to win as many as possible. To the Jews I became like a Jew, to win the Jews. To those under the law I became like one under the law (though I myself am not under the law), so as to win those under the law. To those not having the law I became like one not having the law (though I am not free from God’s law but am under Christ’s law), so as to win those not having the law. To the weak I became weak, to win the weak. I have become all things to all men so that by all possible means I might save some. I do all this for the sake of the gospel, that I may share in its blessings.” I’m not saying that based on this scripture, there is incontrovertible biblical basis for using twitter in the service… I’m simply saying that I think we need to constantly be looking for new ways to present the gospel to the lost. Whether or not we continue to use twitter, I’m incredibly proud of the staff for stepping out and trying something new, and I’m glad it’s generated this discussion. I realize that as the pastor’s son, my opinion may be biased, but if you talked to him, he’d tell you that I’m one of his greatest critics.
Since it’s been discussed here, I feel like I should discuss Nancy’s concerns regarding the café. My heart broke as I was reading… to understand that, I’ll open up for all who are reading this, and give you glimpse into where my heart has been. In recent months, I have felt a strong conviction from the Lord to start making a REAL difference in building His Kingdom. My prayer for months was for God to give me a vision for how to serve him… That prayer, along with discussion with several of my friends from the church, led to the idea to revitalize the current café format to be more outreach oriented. I hesitate to call it a “seekers” service, because the idea was to have both a worship service and a message that are applicable to believers, but still challenge the lost with the power of the gospel. Although the idea for this kind of service originated with the “younger” generation, I never wanted it to be viewed as the “young people’s service.” The message of the gospel is timeless, therefore I believe those who it’s aimed at should be the same. The discussion about what generation we’re aiming for surfaced in our discussions, and the overwhelming response was that it should be aimed at every generation. It saddens me more than any of you could believe to know that anyone in the older generation felt “pushed out.” My heart’s desire has been that through all of this, the older generation would feel a deep sense of pride that the younger generation has caught the vision for the future, and are relentlessly seeking to make His vision theirs. We talk so often at Tri-State about being multi-generational, but what does that look like? If you’re reading this as a member of the “older” generation, and you believe that the younger generation is asking you to pass the baton and sit back while we take over, you couldn’t be further from the truth… and I say that in love. For those of you who have been around the church for a while, you know that my background is in track and field. It’s a mental sport. Whenever I was on a relay team, the confidence of my teammates was critical. After passing off the baton to me, exhausted from giving everything they had, they still found the strength to yell for me, to coach me, to encourage me. Truthfully, that was often the difference between winning and losing. I think the parallel to the relationship between generations in a church is strong. If you’re part of the older generation and you think that it’s time to take a back seat, you’re missing out on some of the greatest impact that God has for your life. The younger generation needs you. We’re not pushing anyone out… we’re asking everyone to renew their commitment to making Christ known. While I don’t know who has felt ostracized by what we’ve done, I offer myself to anyone who wants any clarification or wants to voice their concerns. I’d be more than happy to talk to you… in fact, I’d encourage it.
I hope that what I’ve said reflects the humility of my heart. In my heart of hearts, my desire is to fulfill God’s purpose, to reach the lost, and to make a lasting difference for the Kingdom of God.
Aaron, your efforts have not gone without appreciative notice. That week referenced before, could have been better prepared for. The usual musical people came there, I’m told, prepared to sing …NO ONE had told them the venue had changed. That’s the crux of the problem. Communication between God’s servants. About the other attendees, I really don’t have a clue. We are in the main auditorium, mainly because we greet or section host most of the time. Today Mary has an e-mail plea out for greeters. We fill in whenever we older folks can, after all we are always there! Oh, say, why not encourage your younger attendees to help with serving in the church?
Let me make some corrections and then some comments:
1. Corrections: The “café season” ended on 5/20, so the venue trial service done in that space on the 27th was not a replacement of anything planned, but an extra item offered instead of having simply a single joint auditorium service on a holiday weekend. This was announced three weeks in advance exactly as it transpired – announced both in the café and auditorium services. We have no knowledge or observation of anyone expecting to participate that day, to only find that something else was happening instead of the actual nothing originally scheduled. It is possible that such a miscommunication could transpire – please, anyone, tell us who that is so that we may be able to close any loop we’re unaware of.
2. Comments: Quickly …
a. I am thankful for all the family of TSF and the wonderful way that everyone serves together… of all ages. The long-term faithful service of older generations is a backbone for us as it is for all churches blessed with people who’ve been serving God for a long time. And I’m so thankful for the service of our young adults and teens – without the table leader assistance of so many of you, our children’s ministries could not function… and this has been true for many years. And your role in worship ministries and tech ministries is very commendable. You are also the leaders of our teen ministries – even to the extent of giving your vacation time to go on missions trips and youth conferences. So obviously, it takes all generations to make a great church, and we have that happening – just not in every place at every moment.
b. Regarding technology – certainly this is a morally neutral thing – that can be used for good or bad. It really is a different time in which we live – where people have their Scripture involvement often no longer in a bound book, but rather in an electronic device – able through such incredible tools as YouVersion to write in your own notes, thoughts, references, etc. We live in an amazing age – and I think we’re on good ground to seek to use the tools available to advance our knowledge and application of Scripture. The world has come a long way from scribes who wrote the Scriptures > to the few literate monks/scholars who maintained them and transcribed them and shared them only on Sundays with the common folk > to Tyndale and Guttenberg that made it possible for masses of people to have the Word in print > to our day where it is available in myriad formats! This is awesome. Like the energy debate about fossil fuels versus green technologies … why can’t we have them all? Why cannot our spiritual energies and interactions come from all sources – print and electronic? There is no reason to impute bad motives to such a desire or to see it as keeping up with the techie cool Joneses.
c. Regarding Giving – I don’t know who does or does not give in terms of generations, nor do I think that way. It has always been true that it is a general fact of life that most folks are more able to be generous later in life – though young professionals sometimes can have the greatest resources. To increase giving in section 2, I should likely revisit Caleb’s encouragement to tithe off the profits of his egg business … though he is as often with Allie (his GF) helping in the preschool class as often as he is in church when the offering is taken. And that also raises the technology issue again: we now have the ability to give through electronic means – which I believe is being used by all generations at TSF, though the young adults were most interested in its inception. Here is what is interesting about this: it allows a person to actually better fulfill the admonition of Christ in Matthew 6:1-4 of giving beyond the eyes of anyone watching …“Be careful not to practice your righteousness in front of others to be seen by them. If you do, you will have no reward from your Father in heaven. So when you give to the needy, do not announce it with trumpets, as the hypocrites do in the synagogues and on the streets, to be honored by others. Truly I tell you, they have received their reward in full. But when you give to the needy, do not let your left hand know what your right hand is doing, so that your giving may be in secret. Then your Father, who sees what is done in secret, will reward you.”
d. Regarding generations: We are going to be a multiple generations church. This decision and determination was made already almost a generation ago. As proof that this is not an easy thing to do is the fact that there are few examples anywhere of it having been done successfully, along with the rapid growth potential often seen in new, single-generation churches (which we used to be). But this is where we are going. We are. And it requires a Romans 15 “one another” attitude on the part of everyone. But we are going this way. Speaking to both older and younger, Peter said to his readers: “All of you, clothe yourselves with humility toward one another, because, ‘God opposes the proud but shows favor to the humble.’”
I’m glad we all have the opportunity to discuss our concerns, but it saddens me that suddenly things are becoming, “the old against the young.” At one point in my life I left a church because the bickering and dissention between those two groups had become so great than the true purpose of church had been forgotten, and all that was accomplished was argument. As a result, most young people left, ( and went to other churches), while the older generation stayed. Today, the church is not in existence because the older generation passed on, leaving no one to carry on. Satan loves to tear down churches.
Let’s love each other, not condemn each other.
Nancy, The usual people were notified. There is a lot of things that go on here that many don’t know about and many things people “forget” after they are told. Communication is tricky. We do our best.
One thing that I have always loved and continue to love about TriState is the attention that older generations have given to the younger and sharing of their life experiences, advice and guidance. Dozens of different individuals have had (and continue to have) positive influences in the lives of each of us as we attended TSF through elementary, middle, high school, college, and in life beyond. That leadership has given each of us in the younger generations strong and positive role models shaped around the character of Jesus. It has formed us, improved us, motivated us, and we are all appreciative of it as we en devour to train up our children in the next generation to do the same. We all thank all of your for that and look forward to those continued relationships.