Twitter and the Church — Just Another Internet Site or a New Way to Engage?

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How did you meet the friends that you talk to? Maybe you bumped into them in a school hallway,or struck up a conversation with them after church, or maybe you were introduced from a mutual friend. We meet people through conversation, we develop relationships with people through conversations, we are constantly in conversation with people. We love having the opportunity to talk to people about our interests, our faith, or even how our day went.

Guess what? You can do this online as well…it’s this “little” site called Twitter. You can have conversation with people near and far, you get to hear their amazing stories, and best of all you get to invest in people, in humanity. Here are 5 reasons why your church should consider using Twitter to create relationships within your community:

  1. Community Building: Find out what your community is talking about. Search for people that are in your churches backyard and find out what they are talking about. What do they want from their community? What are their needs/wants?
  2. Outreach: If you believe that outreach is creating long-lasting relationships with people within the community, then this is a great tool to use. If you have done some community building, then use that information to create events for these people. If someone in your community tweets something about needing school supplies, send those to them! If someone needs food, put on a barbecue! If someone needs a listening ear…listen to them.
  3. Engage your church: Believe it or not, people in your church may be using Twitter -- engage with them, talk to them, keep them engaged throughout the week. There are many ways you can do this; accountability groups (online check-ins), discuss a devotion, follow up the sermon during the week, etc.
  4. Awareness: Let your online community know about events that are going on with your church. Tell them what is happening inside your church building. Tell your surrounding community that you are in the neighbourhood and care for them!
  5. Get involved: Leave your church building and go to community events, you can find out what’s happening in your community through Twitter, so use your online community to find out what’s happening in your neighbourhood! Go out, talk to people, and then reconnect with them online to keep that conversation going.

Everyone has a story to tell, so go out and listen to other people’s stories, tell your story, tell Christ’s story. There are entire events that happen surrounding stories. For example, in September, the 140 Conference is coming to Kitchener/Waterloo/Cambridge (Canada), and it talks about how social media has impacted real relationships, real experiences, real life. There are pastors, lay leaders, social media chaplains online, and there are many, many people seeking for answers about life.

Will you accept the call?

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We host a Serve missions week through Youth Unlimited every year. In past years we've used Twitter to provide, brief, up-to-the-moment updates from the work sites, with the idea that friends & family back at home could follow us and be especially keyed into what their loved ones are experiencing. With that said, my experience has been the uptake on Twitter outside the tech savvy community is still relatively low, especially compared to Facebook.

The junior high pastor at my church manages dozens of volunteers. When one joins the ministry, he makes them get a Twitter account and follow a certain account. He then uses this account to post messages for his volunteers. His thinking is that Twitter is available on all cellphones & an easy way to do regular updates--even urgent ones like "The weather has cancelled tonight's meeting!"

I work at a CRC agency and one of our programs deals with communications issues for churches. Here's a white paper Church Juice released on using Twitter as a Ministry Tool. It includes the basics of how to use Twitter and shows how other churches are successfully using this form of social media.

I often tell people that Twitter is not a must for organizations and churches: You need to think through why you would use it and how. If you do it, do it right. Be interacctive. Don't just advertise or broadcast. Share. Be present. Tweet more than once a week. Even if you don't have the staff to man an active, menaingful account, you should have the capability for people to share your website or content viz their Twitter account. Here's a good resource on that.

Thanks for the comments Kyle and Todd, I have seen twitter work in many different capacities, both with Tech-savy people and vice versa.  For me it goes back to knowing where your audience/client/consumer/congregation is and then spending some time in conversation with them.  Twitter is one of those things (like many others) that the more time and effort you put in to it, the more you get out of it as well.  

 

Thanks for your comments!  

Jason/@jasondyk