It isn’t nice when one has to eat humble pie. I have been very outspoken about my use of twitter as a tool for getting Christian thought out there (you know, into the great wide open). I still think it’s a great tool. John Piper has blogged about it. Jon Acuff recently put another slant on it.
Over the last number of days I have seen some inspiring and thought provoking faith-tweets. On Sunday, I commented on some friends’ sermon tweets that were challenging and profound. But, over the same period of time, I have seen some pretty rubbish faith tweets too: Half ideas and open ended concepts; poor Theology and bit parts of good Theology which, left without context, become bad because bit parts without context or explanation often make little sense. You get the picture.
My friend, Simon Strehler, and I had a debate on this point over Facebook, and later email, a while back and we agreed to disagree on certain points. More and more, though I have taken to heart some of the points Simon posed. Then, I look at another friend of mine, Brett of the fishy Andersons, and I see someone who is gifted at using online tools and social media to share Jesus in an unassuming but relevant way, without being ‘theolododgy’.
So, where do I stand on this one now, especially with more and more people being encouraged to tweet sermon thoughts and faith “stuff”? The short answer is that my feelings haven’t changed. I said the following in my original post:
- Many of the people who follow me on twitter don’t know Jesus. Also, I don’t know them personally. Thus, twitter is the only way I can get any kind of message about Jesus (and church) into their spaces. Twitter is a powerful tool for communicating thoughts, opinions and paradigms. Jesus’ message, in turn, is the most powerful message ever. I believe that we need to use every opportunity to do so. Because I am an avid tweeter, I use the opportunity on a Sunday, usually during the sermon, to tweet the things that strike me in particular.
- You could argue that I could tweet these things without referring to 3Ci specifically. I could but I don’t. Firstly, 3Ci has a great online presence with lots of stuff to read (and see) about real people’s journey’s with Jesus. If someone felt drawn by the Holy Spirit to know more after reading a tweet, they have somewhere to go. Also, if any people following me on Twitter live in Pretoria and want to go to a church, they have a starting point.
- Every week at church, I am wrecked by the gospel. God’s word cuts deep and challenges me to change. I am insanely excited about what is being shaped in my life at present and I believe it’s the stuff of sharing. So, I share the things that challenge me in the hope that some of those thoughts will challenge others, both those who do and those who don’t follow Jesus.
The long answer is that I think more carefully these days what I tweet. Maybe that’s a rule we, as followers of Jesus, need to apply when it comes to tweeting about faith thoughts. What follows is my personal checklist for tweeting about faith issues:
- Can the thought expressed be properly understood independently of a larger context (sermon, book, conversation, etc)? If not, don’t tweet OR link to the larger context (sermon download, book extract etc.)
- Is my tweet REALLY theologically sound or is there opportunity for misinterpretation?
- Does my tweet honour God and point to him or is it just going to stir controversy. I’m all for stirring controversy if that leads people to a deeper understanding of Jesus but can a controversial tweet do that or does it just alienate those to whom we wish to show Jesus.
- Does my tweet LOVE others? Even if I tweet something “difficult”, are people going to know love by reading it?
- I will structure and express my tweets more clearly. I will choose my words more carefully and I will be more attune to the tone of what I write.
- I will not use tweets to Jesus Juke other people’s tweets. My tweets will not be veiled references to other tweet’s I have read.
So I will still tweet about faith stuff. I will still sermon tweet. But, I will be sure of what I tweet before I tweet. Hold me to it!