Sunday, May 03, 2009

Twitter in worship

"If worship is about creating community, Twitter is an undeniably useful tool."
"He likes the way it helps him see what God is doing in other people's lives during the service."

These remarks come from an article in Time right now about a church integrating Twitter into their worship services... and the other churches hoping to follow suit. Read it.

The last line in the whole piece I think is telling. They are going over the sorts of emails this pastor has been receiving lately, and end with this: "Got any tips to persuade church leadership this is way cool?
That's a great question. How can we best pitch cool things to church leadership? If they can't be convinced, the whole congregation will miss out.

In all seriousness, while I think this desire to integrate 'cool' into worship is terrifying, there are other issues here which I find more frightening.
"Worship is about creating community"?
The dictionary seems to have missed the mark quite a bit on worship then: "the feeling or expression of reverence and adoration for a deity."
The scriptures, too. There, worship seems to be more about "ascribing to the Lord the glory due His name." 
In a 'worship service' where the congregation is constantly looking at the comments of their neighbors in the pews and constantly looking to offer up their own comments, when will we say that we've crossed a line, and that the attention is no longer on God but on ourselves?

And what about this idea that Twitter builds community?
We who are one body because we partake of the one bread, participating in the body of Christ, are we to build community through micro-blogging. There are too many shallow relationships in a church already, without social networking removing us all yet another step from real people and real relationships. The development of a community in the early Church involved the selling of one's possessions and distribution amongst all, as there was need. I think that is quite the contrast.

Some questions have been raised lately about how the way the church presents to gospel shapes the message of the gospel (here Rob Bell interviews pastor Shane Hipps, author of Flickering Pixels: How Technology Shapes Your Faith, on this very topic). This is a situation where we need to consider these questions long and hard.

Again, here's the article. Go read it, and let's hear what you think.


Tony said...

Wow, I tend to think of myself as someone who embraces technology, but this is one of those times when I feel like somewhat of a grandpa. I wouldn't say that Twitter shouldn't be allowed, or that anyone's Tweets should be stifled, I just know how easily distracted I am just by the fact that there are other people around.

If I had a chance to constantly put in my two cents, and receive everyone else's two cents, then all we would have is a big stack of pennies. Who likes pennies that much anyway.

Horrible analogy aside, I think you're right on with the idea of real community as modeled in the old testament. Sure, Facebook and stuff serves its purpose, and there can be lots of good that comes from keeping in touch with people, its just not the same as love shown through action and sharing.

Besides, "Twitter Sunday" just sounds funny.

Bill said...


Daniel McLain Hixon said...

The ironic thing is that USA today just had an article a few weeks ago about how twitter and other social networking sites actually inhibit deep relationships. So this article seems to be working from an opposite assumption.

The UM News service had an article along these lines (no doubt because of the TIME article). I think having twitter in church would be decisive factor in my deciding NEVER to go there again.

Good point Nance (the one I really wanted to make when I heard about this) that worship is actually about GOD not us.