Image via CrunchBaseJohn Voelz and David McDonald, senior pastors at Westwinds Community Church, a tech-savvy congregation in Jackson, Michigan, spent two weeks educating their congregation about Twitter. Congregants brought in their laptops, iPhones and Blackberrys.
They also pumped up the bandwidth in the auditorium. During services, the church publicly broadcasts tweets that look like this:
"Nice shirt JVo"It may seem odd to some, but more churches integrate text-messaging into worship, asking people to bring the act of texting into their relationship with God."
"So glad they are doing Lenny Kravitz"
"I have a hard time recognizing God in the middle of everything"
"The more I press in to Him, the more He presses me out to be useful"
"sometimes healing is painful"
Other churches in the "quirky minority" using Twitter include Seattle's Mars Hill, New York City's Trinity Church, and Next Level Church outside Charlotte.
Image by Shira Golding via Flickr
Will it catch on? I don't know. The issue of the use of twitter should probably be seen as part of the general discussion on church and technology. I'll try to write more about this later....
But as to the use of Twitter, Pastor Voelz reports getting at least 5 emails a week from people asking about how to launch twitter in thier church. They ask, "How did you rig the screen resolution so people could read the tweets?" "What was members' reaction?" And, not surprisingly: "Got any tips to persuade church leadership this is way cool?"
Not everyone is convinced Twitter is a spiritually "good" thing.
Image via WikipediaShallow spirituality is not a concern for Robbie McLaughlin who is an attender at Next Level Church. His experience is interesting to note.
"The graphic designer twittered the Sunday after Easter Sunday and he intends to do it again and again, caught up in the way it has transformed the way he worships.So, we might exercise caution in suggesting twittering is not compatible with a deeper spirituality.
He likes the way it helps him see what God is doing in other people's lives during the service.
(And there's another benefit too: no more misplaced musings jotted down on that day's program. "With Twitter," he points out, "your notes are there forever.")
I'll post Part 2 of "Twittering Religion in America" this week.