One of the privileges I have in ministry is to train ministry leaders across the nation. Over the last few years I have asked many of these leaders the question, "How many of you are on Twitter?" and am always surprised how many aren't!
Using Twitter as a way to expand and deepen our ministry impact is a missed opportunity for far too many church leaders (pastors, youth leaders, small group leaders, etc.) But Twitter is often either dismissed as a waste of time or underutilized as a ministry tool by too many who may be either intimidated by social media or don't understand how it can help them minister more effectively.
So with this in mind here are 10 reasons I use Twitter as a ministry tool and think you should consider using it too.
1. It allows you to "preach" a sermon in 140 characters or less.
For us preachers who are wordy (I was once told that if I got paid by the word I would be rich) Twitter is a useful discipline. It forces us to use an economy of words to say what needs to be said in 140 characters or less. In other words it forces us to speak the core of the core of the core of what we really want to communicate. This discipline forces us to chisel paragraphs into sentences and sentences into words.
2. It is a great way to send your followers relevant ministry content you've discovered.
If I run across some great content (book, article, blog, etc) I immediately want to tell someone else. Twitter gives me an easy way to do just that!
Like the four lepers who discovered that the Arameans had abandoned camp and decided to share all that the troops had left behind with the hungry people still locked in the besieged city (2 Kings 7:3-11) we get to share the "plunder" of great insights we've discovered with others via Twitter.
3. Twitter allows you to introduce others to Christian leaders you respect and trust.
Twitter is a great way to connect your followers with great leaders of the faith. For instance, I've had the privilege of introducing my Twitter followers to powerful ministry leaders like Derwin Gray (aka "The Evangelism Linebacker" and Author of Limitless Life), Tullian Tchividjan (Author of "One Way Love") and, most recently, Doug Holliday (Executive Director of Sonlife North America.)
4. Twitter is the new prayer chain.
Years ago I was sick in Seattle just hours before a Dare 2 Share conference. I was slated to preach the opening session. Of course my buddies Derwin Gray and Zane Black wanted to "help me out" by taking the opening session but instead I turned to Twitter and asked my followers to pray. By the time it was time to preach I was feeling strong enough to go for it. Twitter is a great way to call teenagers to pray with immediacy and urgency.
5. You can use Twitter as an evangelistic tract.
I love using Twitter as a way to communicate the gospel. I'll usually use words as breadcrumbs that lead to a url like lifein6words.com, somethingamazing.net or fallingplates.com. But bumper sticker type statements can often spark interest and be a simple way to lead someone to a website that more fully explains the good news of Jesus.
6. Twitter humanizes you to your followers.
One of the things I like to do on Twitter is to share stupid stuff that I have done. Here are two Tweets I sent over the last week or so, "Emcee called me out to dance during the Monsters Inc "The Laugh Floor" show. I danced with no inhibitions (Thriller & Napoleon Dynamite, etc." and "Yesterday I got the wrong sermon notes from my car & realized it moments before I had to speak. Sprint to the car.Sprint to the pulpit #Whew"
Teenagers love it when we do dumb stuff. It makes us seem, well, more normal. And I think that it's good for teens to realize that sometimes that "S" on our chest stands for "Stupid."
7. It's a great way to get people to smile.
We live in a high stress world and sometimes we just need a reminder to smile. As Proverbs 17:22 tells us, "A cheerful heart is good medicine, but a broken spirit saps a person's strength." A well-timed joke, humorous insight or funny picture can be a tipping point of joy in an otherwise mundane day.
8. Twitter can create theological conversations over the issues that matter most.
From the Trinity to the deity and humanity of Jesus to the doctrine of grace to the inerrancy of Scripture there are doctrines that are worth defending. Sometimes Twitter discussions buzz over substantive theological issues. Although it's hard to engage them in depth on Twitter points and counterpoints can be made in bumper sticker statements that can stick. Although nobody wants to hang out with the dude who is the originator of constant theological controversies (except for other angry theological nerds) there is a time and place for it as long as they are true discussions and not angry diatribes.
Paul instructed Timothy about how to interact with those who were off theologically in 2 Timothy 2:23-26. His insights apply to those who get Twitter-pated theologically today, "Don’t have anything to do with foolish and stupid arguments, because you know they produce quarrels. And the Lord’s servant must not be quarrelsome but must be kind to everyone, able to teach, not resentful. Opponents must be gently instructed, in the hope that God will grant them repentance leading them to a knowledge of the truth, and that they will come to their senses and escape from the trap of the devil, who has taken them captive to do his will."
9. It's a great way to encourage someone else.
There are times when I've received an encouragement from someone on Twitter that came just in the nick of time. In many ways Twitter is the new note of encouragement. These notes can be public or sent through Direct Message. Either way these short notes brighten my day when I receive them and it's fun to brighten someone else's day by sending one. Sending an encouraging message via Twitter is a great way to obey the command in Ephesians 4:32 to "be kind and compassionate to one another."
10. Twitter can be a powerful way to challenge others to share their faith.
I do this several ways: Tweeting out a verse (or part of one) that challenges people to share the gospel, sending a link to a blogpost I or someone else wrote about the urgency of sharing the good news and telling a story of a recent opportunity I had to share the good news.
These challenges, stories, insights and reminders keeps the evangelistic heat turned up so that others will catch for for THE Cause.
I pray these 10 reasons for using Twitter as a ministry tool will inspire you to do just that. Just go here, sign up and get started.
See you on Twitter!