Twitter Worship 7


A HT to @samharrelson for pointing out this story. My views may surprise some. The story is this:

STALLINGS, N.C. (AP) — Most churches want them turned off, but one North Carolina church encouraged its members to use their cell phones, BlackBerrys and other devices to help spread the word during Easter services.

Next Level church in Union County was alive with Twitter during the Easter Sunday service. The electronic service sends short messages to other phones and online accounts.

“I hope many of you are tweeting this morning about your experience with God,” Pastor Todd Hahn said before his sermon. A tweet is a message sent through Twitter.

Many of you know that I use Twitter and you can follow me @Targuman. It is a toyl that can be fun (toy) and sometimes useful (tool). But I don’t think it has a place in worship. I even think, contary to some, that it really doesn’t have a place in class either.

In both cases the community should be paying attention to the message and, in the case of a seminar, interacting with the leader. Twitter is not the same thing as taking notes, which can of course be an aid to learn, but instead requires a different set of concerns (using tiny keyboard or touch screen, fitting it into 140 chars) and shifts focus from the content of the event to the creation of an artifact from the event as created by the twitterer.

In both cases twittering distracts the community from the primary goals of the event. In worship one is to be in a contemplative and refelctive posture (mental posture that is, not “crash position” hunched in the pew although feel free to slump if you like), considering the words of the preacher and participating through internal engagement.

In class the students should be focused upon the content and engaging with the material and the instructor. Some will argue that twitter allows one to do just that, but I do not think that is true. The medium is just too invasive, it puts up a barrier to note taking and reflection rather than facilitating it. And that is why I do not think twitter works for classroom in a general way. Technology should be about facilitating the activity not hindering it (unless you are the NSA or the RIAA in which case yes, they are using tech to hinder).

This is not to say that Twitter cannot have a role in “spreading the message” or in the classroom. Certainly there are a number of people using Twitter as an evangelism and devotional tool (see for example @CommonPrayer and @prayingthespsalms). And one could design a course that would leverage Twitters strengths, for example in a large lecture class taking a moment and asking student to tweet questions and then thread them and have a Q&A. But as I saw just yesterday in class, when the laptops are open or the phones are out the students are not focused on the conversation at hand. That makes me a bit sad since I am one who does use my MacBook to take notes, etc. but it seems that for most students the tempation is too great. (And small tip students, I can see what time you updated your facebook status and know that it was during my class….)

So we are back to my techmantra: Tools are tools. They key is to use the right tool for the right job.

 

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7 thoughts on “Twitter Worship

  • Bryan Bibb

    I have been contemplating the use of Twitter as a conversation medium in my classes. I might actually like the idea of using it to queue up questions and comments during class (perhaps projected on a screen like the Chronicle dude does) IF the course were very large. As it is, students should just jump in, or maybe raise their hand if I’m on a roll.

    However, I think it could be used along with (or instead of) a forum or list-serve between classes. Imagine if a student could post a question or comment about the reading and get several instant responses, including from the professor. This is better than a forum post because it is quicker and eaiser, and there is less overhead than a list-serve that gets thrown into the email morass.

    In a church, imagine if a bunch of church members were following the pastor’s Twitter stream and could be part of planning the service and focusing the sermon message for the week. For you pastors out there, is this too invasive?

  • RD Huff

    While respecting the technique of Professor Camplese, I must agree with you. The simultaneous use of Twitter during a lecture would likely prove distracting. Lectures and sermons are meant to engage listeners directly through the words and concepts presented by the lecturer… not through behind the scenes dialogue carried out in 140 character bursts.

    Yet at the same time, I think one could find something very spiritual in the habit of releasing words onto the web. Like Professor Bibb proposed, the ability to pose a question, or even, to seek words of wisdom/prayers, and get an immediate response from those that care enough follow your stream could prove to be an invaluable tool for students and congregants alike.

  • Scott

    I am a minister, Twitterer, on Facebook, and a Blogger. I use these tools to interact with people, to open doors, and share sound bites (text bites) of the good news. I also gather good information and ideas that help me stay relevant as I prepare material for Bible classes, studies, religious articles, and sermons.

    I do wonder how the Apostle Paul would have incorporated such technology though . . .