> @StickyJesus 12) demystifying: Twitter

twitterIn celebration of Internet Evangelism Month, this is the twelfth in a 15-part blog project discussing the book, @stickyJesus: how to live out your faith online.

As a young man I spent a great deal of time traveling. I had many experiences exploring new lands and learning new things. Some of what I learned has stayed with me to this day. I learned it is best to travel light, that meeting new people is an essential part of the journey, that new discoveries are only open to those willing to try something new and that helping others is just as important as being helped. These lessons are a vital part of why I tweet. They have helped me to reflect on Jesus’ words in Acts 1:8 and enter into this virtual world as a witness for Christ.

Connecting is an important part of the culture of Twitter. Unlike Facebook most of the people you follow or who follow you are strangers at the start. You get to know them through the various tools that Twitter provides. They also get to know you and whether or not they want to continue to follow you. It is essential to be yourself, travel light and be willing to meet new people.

Communicating is essential. This means learning a new language and culture. In the land of Twitter we are required to communicate within a fixed limit of 140 characters. It is intriguing and fascinating how much can actually be said in a very small amount of space. We also need to learn the lingo. Lingo used on Twitter is both unique and important. It is unique because it has to fit within the context of a limited space. Knowing the lingo is important because many words and phrases are abbreviated which allows you to use the limited space to more fully share your thoughts. So, to be effective on Twitter it is vital to learn this lingo.

Being able to communicate well is also vital if you are on Twitter. It will determine how much influence you have in this land. Each time you share and someone else shares what you shared your influence is multiplied. How amazing it is when that influence brings people closer to Jesus. This is the power of Twitter.

Caring about others ought to be a way of life for Christians on Twitter. It can make a powerful difference in the lives of those who inhabit this land. Sometimes it is just answering a tweet with a word of encouragement.  Being real in a virtual world is shown by the way we care about others. This is more difficult then it at first appears. However, the dividends make it worth the effort.

A very enjoyable part of going on any journey is discovering new things. Most residents in the land of Twitter are very patient with new comers. Many want to help people get settled in and become a vital part of the community.  Can you imagine the difference a loving and active Christian witness could make in the lives of tweeps?

The Twittersphere is a remarkable place filled with remarkable people. It is a land full of opportunities to connect, to communicate and to care about others. It is up to us to be willing to enter into this land and take advantage of these God given opportunities.

A few questions:

1) If you have not started using twitter what is stopping you?

2) If you are on twitter why did you choose to use it?

3) What are some possible ways you can envision twitter being used for ministry?

4) Why do you think twitter is so appealing to so many people?

@StickyJesus 11) demystifying: Facebook" rel="bookmark" href="http://blog.ourchurch.com/2011/05/27/stickyjesus-11-demystifying-facebook/">11) demystifying: Facebook –> @StickyJesus – The Group Blog Project" rel="bookmark" href="http://blog.ourchurch.com/2011/05/02/introducing-stickyjesus-group-blog-project/">@StickyJesus project <– @StickyJesus 13) demystifying: blogging" rel="bookmark" href="http://blog.ourchurch.com/2011/06/01/stickyjesus-13-demystifying-blogging/">13) demystifying: blogging

Rob Ross is the coordinator for Oikos Ministries (a network of organic churches). He is a disciple of Jesus (Making Disciples) who lives in Calgary, AB with his family. Connect with Rob on Facebook or Twitter

34 Responses to “> @StickyJesus 12) demystifying: Twitter”

  1. Rob you sum it up well when you say that Twitter enables people to connect, communitcate, and care for one another. What makes it distinctive is that all of it can be achieved in a few words and with high impact. We've found it to be an effective platform for encouragment and outreach. Connections are made, trust is built, and ministry happens. Sometimes it occurs immediately following a simple 140 character stand-alone messsage or because a link directs to a place where thoughts and conversations can go deeper.

    I think it has enormous appeal becuase it's accessible, easy, and open. It's a place where many can be heard by many and nobodies can become somebodies quickly. It's a field white, ready, and in need of harvest. it's an honor to be on the same team with you and all the others earger and willing to lift up Jesus in this growing social media universe.

    • Thanks for your comment Tami. It is a blessing to know there are so many who feel called to reach into cyberspace with the gospel message. I liked your statement "Connections are made, trust is built, and ministry happens". It seems that twitter can become a numbers game. However, ministry does not happen until a trust relationship is established.

  2. "Unlike Facebook most of the people you follow or who follow you are strangers at the start. "

    I never thought about that before, but it's so true! And interesting that I've formed some what I believe will be lifetime connections–real relationships–via Twitter.

    Honestly, I can't remember why I started to use Twitter in the beginning. Then I realized it is a great way to learn how to say much in few words–and then finally a way to sow kingdom seeds.

    Connection, communication, caring. That just about covers it.

    • Sandra – I am grateful twitter connected me to you!

    • PaulSteinbrueck May 30, 2011 at 9:22 am

      Sandra, I thought that was a great point too. Through twitter I've met a lot of people I didn't previously know (like you, Tami, Toni and just about everyone who's blogging through @StickyJesus). Many of those people I've become pretty good friends with and even met in person.

    • Thanks Sandra, As I was writing this post I was thinking about the connection I have made online and the influence they have had in my life. Though I have connected with many people online I have never met in person there is still a real sense of kinship.

      I have also found the limit placed on twitter comments has helped improve my writing. It has forced me to think about what I want to say in as few words as possible. This has helped a great deal especially when I am talking with my teenage sons. :)

  3. Well hey there Rob. I'd love to weigh in on your topic with a fresh experience.

    I recently attended a conference for Christian ministries using the Internet to help fulfill the Great Commission. Participants were given the opportunity to provide a report on their projects.

    In my opening remarks, I thanked the person who invited me as, "my good friend Dave Hackett, who I've known online for a year, and met in person for the first time last night." We embraced as if we had known each other for years. Later we marveled at the ease of our conversation and sense of familiarity.

    I had a similar experience at the conference with Antoine RJ Wright and Craig von Buseck, whom I had previously only met and interacted with through social media.

    So, what would have ordinarily been a first time experience in a room full of strangers, turned out to be time of quicker connections, enlarged communication and deeper caring, as a result of social media and most importantly, our common love for Christ.

    I would add "collaboration" to your list. Being on mission with God, hastened by prior interactions and trust, prompted conference attendees to more readily explore opportunities for working together.

    One more thing. I would not have had the pleasure of connecting with my good friends Rob, Tami, Sandra or Paul had it not been for these tools God has given us to leverage for extending His kingdom. It is truly great to know each of you and partner in this new field of ministry.

    • PaulSteinbrueck May 30, 2011 at 3:24 pm

      Hi Gordon, I've had several similar experiences with friends I met online and when I finally had the opportunity to meet them face to face, including Tami and Toni last week. I look forward to the day you and I meet in person!

      • Thinking the same thing Paul. Thanks for all the effort you've put into promoting Internet evangelism the last few years. Keep up the great work you're doing with your blog. I KNOW it is not easy.

    • Hi Gordon,
      I enjoyed reading about your experience :-) You make an excellent point about collaboration- thank you for sharing.

      Blessings!

  4. PaulSteinbrueck May 30, 2011 at 9:36 am

    Rob, thanks for writing today's post and leading today's conversation. Twitter is such a great tool with so many uses…

    - News. I don't watch news on TV or even check news websites regularly. When something important happens, someone I follow on Twitter will tweet it.

    - Blog posts. I'm kind of ashamed to admit it, but I haven't used an RSS feed reader for months. I follow the bloggers I want to read on Twitter. Those blog posts encourage, challenge, and teach me a great deal.

    - Motivation. I get a lot of inspiration from the tweets, quotes, and blog posts I see on Twitter.

    - Blog ideas. I get a lot of ideas for blog posts from the things I read on Twitter.

    - Friendships. I enjoy the personal interactions on Twitter. Twitter has led to a number of friendships that have gone well beyond Twitter.

    Those are some of the things I receive from those I follow on twitter. So, I try to be those things for the people who follow me.

    • i totally agree re the news and blog feed type thing – i've never used a rss feed or blog reader thing so twitter is great to keep up to date! i collect quotes, like how people collect stamps i always say, and twitter is brill at that. once a month or so i do a TWEET WEEK post on my blog with some of my fav tweets…

      • PaulSteinbrueck May 30, 2011 at 3:36 pm

        I'm a big quote collector too, Claire. I look forward to seeing more of your tweets! :)

      • I especially like your idea of having a tweet week post on your blog. It is a great way of reviewing those tweets that have really been encouraging throughout the week. Thx

      • 2krazybeautiful May 31, 2011 at 4:44 pm

        …awesome idea!

    • Paul, I find twitter is great because of my work schedule. I am able to get news at anytime of day or night. I still use RSS feeds but they go to my iphone which is connected to twitter.

      I find great motivation when I read tweets. I look for the tweets that really speak to me and then retweet them to others. I find it is an excellent way of being encouraged and encouraging others. Often the ones that I tend to retweet regularly are the same people that tend to become friends.

      One thing that I was going to include in the post was the use of lists. Lists have become the best way for me to stay connected with those who really want to connect. I have found the lists on twitter are an excellent tool.

      Thanks Paul for inviting me to participate even though I lost a day somewhere. :)

      • PaulSteinbrueck May 30, 2011 at 4:29 pm

        >>Often the ones that I tend to retweet regularly are the same people that tend to become friends.

        >>Lists have become the best way for me to stay connected with those who really want to connect.

        Rob, I completely agree on both points, and we're all blessed to have you as a part of this blogging project.

    • No shame in your game, Paul. I haven't used my Google Reader in months. I'm sure I would be amazed to see the number of unread posts over there.

  5. Great post Rob! While I am newer to Twitter, I've noticed several benefits from it. First off, I've learned so much along the way by following industry leaders who tweet valuable information. I too have met people via Twitter that I would not have found via other avenues. Also, it's helped me become a better author – I'm all about saying more with less words, a rule which a limit of 160 characters forces us to follow.

    It's a tremendous portal of communicating and connecting with people all over the world. What an awesome chance to share the gift of grace and salvation with others. I think, in response to question #4, the appeal of Twitter is a connection that doesn't have to be deep and developed to be effective. There-in lies it's brilliance.

  6. Great overview of the possibilities Rob. Thanks for writing on my favorite platform—Twitter. I can't believe I'm such a long winded writer but find such joy in Twitter. Before Twitter and FB I often felt guilt over not connecting with friends often enough. Now I connect with 5x as many people and go 2x as deep. It's really amazing. I think that appeal will be huge for pastors and ministry leaders once more get it.

    The ministry opportunities are endless. I personally experience 1-1 ministry every week, several times a week and have witnessed true miracles of healing through prayer. I think we are just scratching the surface since many Christians have yet to tap this cyber channel where God is moving with power and precision. Every. Single. Day.

    I also use Twitter for business. It's a great tool to educate clients not just about the "what" but about the "why" of what we do as a company. It's finally politically correct to fold in personal values to your business brand and Twitter is the perfect place to do that. Whereas, it's uncool to keep showing pictures of your kids, praising your spouse, or praying for our soldiers throughout the day in the office—totally acceptable and applauded on Twitter if we do so appropriately.

    Thanks so much for the great post! :)

    • Thanks Toni,
      As you may have been able to tell Twitter is also my favourite platform. It has helped me learn to say more in less words. When I preached my kids used to tell me that I was a little long winded. It has helped me be a little less long winded. But I still love to tell stories. :)

      I agree with you that as disciples of Jesus we have only scratched the surface. There are so many possibilities to minister using online platforms. That is what attracted me to online ministry. It gives me a space to experiment with possibilities. It has also allowed me to gain insights from others who have already gone down certain paths. I look forward to what God will do through technology in the coming years.

      I especially liked your comment "It's finally politically correct to fold in personal values to your business brand". My kids have shared with me that they often get frustrated with having to be politically correct when it is morally incorrect.

      Blessings, Rob

  7. I'm just loving these comments!

  8. Christie Weatherby May 30, 2011 at 7:53 pm

    Hi, Rob! I find it extremely fascinating that you have done a lot of time traveling! I am only teasing but that is what I thought you said when I first read your post. :)

    Great post, by the way. Twitter is my favorite. I have said before, during this project, I hated Twitter at first. I started using Twitter because all my friends were doing it. You would think that I would have grown out of the peer pressure phase by now. I have made some true friends there and formed some important relationships. By truly reading and caring about what people tweet you can really be there for them. It creates lots of opportunities to share your faith and personal experiences.

    • Christie Weatherby May 30, 2011 at 7:55 pm

      Is it ok for me to reply to my own comment??? Because I was also going to say that Twitter has helped me to become a better communicator, but then I forgot to say that, so maybe it hasn't….

  9. Hi Rob,
    I love how you end your post with:
    The Twittersphere is a remarkable place filled with remarkable people. It is a land full of opportunities to connect, to communicate and to care about others. It is up to us to be willing to enter into this land and take advantage of these God given opportunities.

    Your statement rings so true for me: God, through Twitter, has afforded me to the opportunity to connect, communicate and care for remarkable people- His beloved creation. I am so grateful!

    When I first started using Twitter, my purpose was to stalk celebrities- just being real. There were a couple of ppl who found me "interesting" I don't know why? perhaps my profile pic looked pleasant, b/c I certainly wasn't shining for Jesus. On Twitter, I hid my light b/c a). I was afraid of being rejected ( from ppl I didn't know -go figure! and b). I didn't know how to let my light shine. I could feel myself being sifted, so, I closed my account. About 6 months later, I opened a new Twitter account. I had a new perspective and was careful about who I followed. I believe God saw my heart and that I wanted to and was ready to freely express who He is to me online. He knew I needed to be taught and surrounded by folks who were doing it and living it. That is why I will forever, forever, forever, be grateful to God for the sticky Jesus grp blog project (God bless you Paul, Tami Toni- I so mean it with all my heart). As a result of the group blog project, this is what I know for sure: God knows what we need and who we need; and His delivery is always on time!

    Bless you Rob, my brother in Christ :-)

  10. 2krazybeautiful May 31, 2011 at 4:52 pm

    "…meeting new people is an essential part of the journey, that new discoveries are only open to those willing to try something new and that helping others is just as important as being helped." Love it. I don't have much to add beyond what you and other commenters have already said. I need to learn to use lists!

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