Unthinkable. Inappropriate. Downright blasphemous.
Those are some responses you’ll likely get if you start polling your average mainstream worshiper about using twitter during a worship service. For many, the very idea of people communicating electronically while worshiping is absurd. Don’t our church bulletins tell us to turn off our phones when we come to worship? Don’t we get annoyed when Heart of Glass starts blaring from some lady’s purse during the prayer of the people? Don’t we tell our young people to pay attention in worship and stop messing around on your phone?
Most traditional congregations equate technology with distraction. New social media tools such as twitter are kept separate from our experience of God in worship. However, I get the sense that this is starting to change. A few weeks ago I read a article in Time magazine online about the possibility of twittering in church. I was initially interested because nextlevel, a church in Matthews, NC right down the street from my house is mentioned in the article. Apparently the pastor there encourages his congregation to twitter during worship. I must admit that my initial reaction was negative. Mobile phone = distraction. Bad for worship. End of story.
But then I caught myself. After reading the tweets of worshipers at various churches I realized something. They were listening. They were engaged. They were sharing their worship experience with others. What I would give to have a congregation full of worshipers interested in share their worship experience with the world! I think there’s a word for that. Evangelism? Is that it?
So, I have recently come to appreciate the gift that social media offers the church. Granted, it can be abused. I doubt twittering about the Jonas Brothers during the sermon is really worship. But the truth is that I’ve seen many commonly accepted behaviors in the pews from week to week that can be abused. Heck, they are abused. They are a distraction in worship. How about the woman who works on her needlepoint? Or the one who knits a blanket with a peristent click click click click click? Yet no one objects. We pastors often laud the person who studiously takes notes throughout the sermon, scratching long penciled sentenced on the back of her bulletin. Why then would we object to someone doing the same thing electronically? And in addition sharing worship with the world? I say tweet away!
Just tweet responsibly, worshipfully, and discreetly. The Jonas Brothers can wait.