Lord’s Day Twitter?

It would be more than a little ironic for a pastor to blog against the use of technology to further spiritual growth, so be assured, I’m not doing that.

This article discusses how some pastors encourage their members to Twitter during the worship service.

Last year, Voelz, a pastor, was tweeting at a conference outside Nashville about ways to make the church experience more creative — ways to “make it not suck” — when suddenly it hit him: Twitter.

Technology has always been used by the church whether it was the printing press in the Reformation or voice amplification more recently. There are three ways to approach these developments. The first sees any new technology with suspicion. This type of person hates change either because he is uncomfortable or unfamiliar with it himself and therefore glibly dismisses any good that might come from it, or because he sees abuses and assumes it can’t be used otherwise. Usually it’s a combination of the two with other reasons piled on.These guys hate TV screens, cell phones, podcasts, and Twitter until of course any of these things are so standard that they become alright and then it’s newer things that are despised.

The second reaction is to jump on board with any and every new technological development, ignoring Marshal McLuhan’s wisdom that the medium is the message. Technology doesn’t just deliver information differently, it shapes the content and the way we interact with it. It obviously changes our behavior. What does Twitter do to the person using it? Are there habitual sins that crop up? Is it consistent with the reverence that ought to accompany a worship service? Does anyone still know that reverence ought to be part of a worship service? Now, the quote above from pastor Voelz, if the article represents him accurately, obviously puts him in this category. How do we make church “not suck” since without things like Twitter, meeting with God the Father almighty just might suck? I’m out of my mind, as Paul might say, even to talk like this. If you need the latest device or technology to bring in your crowd, then news, your service already sucks. Your devotion and contentment are based on tricks and the potency of your ministry will have the shelf life of the latest iPhone model.

The third approach to technology sees it as a gift from God that ought to be used to further dominion, to bless us and the work of the Gospel. This doesn’t mean than every new thing is appropriate in every place. Does Twitter distract the guy sitting next to you? Does it distract you from him, since you are supposed to be worshiping with the body and not focusing on yourself anyway as some new technology encourages us to do: “Jerry is up and having a cup of coffee. Jerry is writing about something inconsequential he is doing.” We care, right?

People in different stages have different temptations. Young people want to be cool and will therefore be tempted by fads. Those who implement new methods ought to be the most versed in their temptations and to have received counsel from older, wiser people. Older people, generally, want to be comfortable and unhasseled by change. Learning stuff is awkward and requires humility, and it’s lots of work to implement change. It’s also lots of work to work with those who want change. God would have us work together and adopt methods thoughtfully to accomplish his mission and become the people he would have us be.

2 Comments Lord’s Day Twitter?

  1. Brett Edwards

    I agree that if a church’s motive for the new technology is to “make it not suck” or maybe simply to “make it suck less than before” then it is obviously inappropriate.

    That said, can we say the technology itself is inappropriate in a worship service? Wouldn’t the Roman Catholics of the 16th century use this same line of reasoning against the lay use of the Bible in the worship service? It would probably be hard for me to discern whether the person next to me was twittering or looking up the verse on an electronic Bible. Is an electronic Bible inappropriate? Often people take notes during the service and would twittering not be a similar action? Why can someone take notes on a piece of paper but not through their blackberry? I’m not saying I agree with the use but I’m just curious how you would respond to their justifications. I’m pretty sure Driscoll encourages its use at Mars Hill which illustrates its not simply a liberal, emergent church fad.

  2. jwowen

    The Roman Catholics were arguing that lay people shouldn’t read the Bible for theological reasons, but some were probably technophobes as well. I think an electronic Bible is completely appropriate, as is electronic note taking, but one would have to take into account the neighbor distraction factor. I’m not sure we’d want the sanctuary to sound like a typing center. Mars Hill is not theologically liberal and they’re all about technology, but I’ve never seen a warning about how technology affects people either. Are people better worshipers because of it, or not? That’s a consideration for lyrics on monitors driven by throbbing worship bands. Does anyone know how to sing or take the music with them into the week? How many people come to church because it’s cool rather than out of a desire to be discipled which requires discipline? I’m not judging any church or method, just pointing out that different technologies affect these things. I worshiped at a church the other day that projected the lyrics onto the wall which was nice because I often have a kid in my arms and it’s difficult to use a book. It was also not nice because there was no musical notation which meant the congregation wouldn’t be growing that way, at least not in the service.

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