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Jun12TueThrough Twitter, we can inspire, challenge and impact others with the message of Christ. June 12, 2012 by Captain Mark Braye
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- Opinion & Critical Thought
Preach the Gospel at all times. When necessary, use Twitter.
Twitter burst onto the global scene in 2006. Created by Jack Dorsey, Twitter is an online social networking and microblogging service. It allows users to write, send and read posts of text of up to 140 characters. These messages are known as “tweets.” Photos and links to videos and other websites can be tweeted as well.
There are obviously challenges and opportunities with Twitter. It is not face-to-face interaction. Body language cannot be communicated through a tweet. A tweet's 140 character limit can make it challenging to communicate fully. Also, intimacy and privacy are impossible via Twitter.
Twitter, along with Facebook and other websites, was influential in the Middle East uprisings just over a year ago. There are two sides to the debate as to how influential or important Twitter was. What cannot be denied, though, is that it was a communication device that aided the people responsible for the uprising. Generation Freedom by Bruce Feiler explores the issues wonderfully.
I believe, though, the opportunities for Twitter outweigh the challenges.
Twitter is a wonderful tool of communication; it's fast, direct, and easy. It's also a great way of sharing and networking.
A tweet is sent out into the world immediately. If you want to tell a large group of people something at the same time, a tweet is the way to go. You can tell all your friends about a great movie or book in mere seconds.
Twitter is direct. Your tweets can go directly to your followers. They can read them on their phones or computer or tablet.
It's easy. You type; you tweet. If you can type on a keyboard, you can use twitter.
Twitter is also wonderful for sharing and networking. Commissioner Brian Peddle, our territorial commander, makes use of Twitter. “Twitter provides the opportunity for an expression from a leader like myself to be available immediately,” he wrote to me in an e-mail. Commissioner Peddle also added: “I have followers, which is interesting, but my colleagues at Salvationist.ca and SalvationArmy.ca will often re-tweet to a significant audience. It is magical when other networks re-tweet something you have said.”
Twitter is being used across the Army world. Commissioner Jim Knaggs, territorial commander in the U.S.A. Western Territory, has 75,000 followers. “I want to use everything at my disposal to communicate the gospel,” he told me. “There's a new corps in Melbourne, Australia, as a result of a tweet. Every day people send me notes about their faith, hopes and searching for God.” Commissioner Knaggs tweets verses from Psalms as well, several times a day.
Commissioner Brian Peddle: Twitter.com/bpeddle
Salvation Army International Headquarters: Twitter.com/TSA_IHQ
The New York Times recently published an article in which they reported that Christian leaders are some of the most influential people on Twitter. Justin Bieber and Ashton Kutcher may have more followers, but their impact is less than followers of Jesus Christ. Amy O'Leary writes that “evangelical Christian leaders whose inspirational messages of God's love perform about 30 times as well as Twitter messages from pop culture powerhouses like Lady Gaga” (“Twitter Dynamos, Offering Word of God's Love,” The New York Times).
Like all things, we need to tweet in moderation. We cannot let Twitter replace face-to-face conversations and in-person relationship building and discipleship. However, we cannot bury our heads in the sands of yesterday. Twitter can be used for building the Kingdom of God. We need to do so carefully, though. If William Booth were alive today he may say, write or tweet something like this: “While there remains one dark soul without the light of God, I'll tweet, I'll tweet to the very end.”
Captain Mark Braye and his wife, Nancy, are the officers/pastors of The Salvation Army Temiskaming Community Church in Temiskaming Shores, Ont. They have two children, Hannah and Micah.