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Church Promotes Twittering During Sermon

Written by Paul Steinbrueck

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twitter churchJust came across this news story describing how Next Level Church in Charlotte, NC encouraged people to Twitter during the Easter service.  Everyone they interviewed seemed to think it was a great idea.  That it did not distract their attention from worship or the message.  And that it was a way to use the tools available to us today to connect with others share with them what was going on during the service.

I’m an advocate of using social networking to connect with people and generally speaking I think it’s good for Christians to give their non-Christian friends a glimpse into what day-to-day life is like as a Christian.

I’ve also posted before about how my church has encouraged people to text questions about the message to a moderator who then passed them on to the pastor for a Q & A session at the end of the service.  At the time I thought that was useful.  But now I’m not so sure…

My gut reaction

I’ve got to admit my first thought was Twittering during a worship service sounds like a bad idea.

People say it’s not a distraction, but I don’t know how it could not be a distraction.

If you believe a worship service is an experience with God… the creator of the universe… the most important Person in your life then it’s a big deal.

Imagine how you would feel if during a date with your spouse or significant other, he kept Twittering about it.  You’re trying to carry on a conversation with her, but she periodically glances down at her iPhone for 30 seconds at a time.  You’re walking along the beach enjoying beautiful sunset together, he’s got one hand in yours and one hand punching buttons his Blackberry.

If my wife did that, it would totally tick me off.  I imagine God must feel the same way.

Others feeling the tension

After I wrote the above, I was reading a blog article on Church Solutions where the author (sorry I couldn’t find an attribute) was feeling the same tension while worshiping at the Catalyst West conference.  He/she wrote:

It was in the first half-hour of the conference, when Hillsong United had transported the crowd of 3,200 worshippers to the mountaintop. Awe-stricken, something within me rose up and prompted, “You’ve got to tweet about this.” I turned around to grab my phone from my chair. However, as I looked at my cell, another thought came. “Are you seriously going to interrupt this amazing time of worship to post a tweet? Will it be any less relevant if you do it in five minutes?”

On second thought

But an interesting thought hit me as I read the rest of the post.  It lists the author’s tweets during a conference.  I’ve never tweeted during a conference, but I’ve blogged my notes live.  That was a helpful way for me to remember the important things I heard and to begin discussing them with others.

And come to think of it, I sometimes write down notes while my pastor is giving the message.  I never considered that a distraction.  In fact, I would guess if you took a poll of pastors, most would say taking notes during the sermon and then reviewing them and reflecting on them during the week is beneficial to spiritual development.

Is Twittering any different than that?

So, maybe it’s not such a cut and dry issue.

What do you think about Twittering during a worship service?

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About the author

Paul Steinbrueck

Paul Steinbrueck is co-founder and CEO of OurChurch.Com, husband, father of 3, blogger. You can follow him on Twitter at @PaulSteinbrueck.

19 Comments

  • There is a difference in taking notes on a sermon and Twittering. Twittering is to tell others about what you are learning. The purpose of taking notes is to help you remember things later. I am a HUGE fan of taking notes during a sermon. I have notebooks from college when I started doing this and haven’t stopped since. These notes allow me to do a devotional time with God (aka: Quiet Time) later so I can dig deeper. Taking notes on paper is less distracting than pulling out your latest techno gadget to key in tweets.

    In the end, it’s up to each of us to decide what the best way to get the most out of the service would be. If you can twitter and still stay fully focused on God, great. I can’t…I relay my notes later once I am at home. I use some of my notes as a thought for the day kind of a thing and it keeps me focused on teh sermon and what God is trying to do in my life longer than just a couple hours after the service is over.

  • I think we are all great according what everyone brings in. But my concern is that no one gave a typical example from the Word of God. Here I will note down two Biblical passages: First; Ecclesiastes 1:3-15 stating out from God Word’s that there is an appointed time for everything. Luke 12:26, and since you cannot do this very little, how are you expecting to do big.

    Finally, let us give to God what deserves to Him; honor, Glory, Power and the Over ruling Power upon every human being.

    17 And they have not been corrupt in their imagination; for such were in the mind of the Lord; 18 And they mocked at them that were walking in error; 19 And they spake truth from the inspiration which the Most High breathed into them; Praise and great comeliness to His name. Hallelujah.

    Bless you,
    Jerome

  • When I read this, my initial reaction was NO – Bad idea!

    But on reflection, I have frequently used a PDA (old technology) to take notes at conferences, business meetings, etc. No, I have not done this in church. But why not? I took notes in those other situations because I thought that the content of the meetings was important enough to record. So why not church?

    Twittering on a Blackberry is no different. And if others can read what you think is important about your worship experience, isn’t this good?

  • GODS Love never is rude or walketh unseemly. It beleiveth all things (pertaining to the LORDS word) keepeth no record of wrongs. Is not proud or puffed up. It vaulteth itself not.

    ” Have not the appearance of evil” with evil being bound within the sight and eyes of the beholder, only HE who “rightly judges HIS own truth” seeth no evil,
    for there is NO EVIL in HIS sight.

    Eyes that belong to HIM, see even that which HE sees, and heareth even as HE hears, for they belong to HIM. What do your eyes see and hear? If all of your perceptions are based on what the Holy Ghost shows and tells you, you

    will percieve all things as what the LORD is doing, instead of what men appear to be doing. For HE and HE alone, IS in complete control and soverign, over all
    HIS kingdom.

    Consider the meeting IN HEAVEN in which a lying spirit was sent to the mouths
    of the false Prophets..in order that the LORDS will be done…HE changeth not.
    HE is the same today and tomorrow, yesterday and 1,000 years from now.

    Has the LORD changed his judgements (the Word) about anything?

    The short answer here is..if HE is your judge, and rightly guides your thinking
    according to HIS perfect will for all men, then you thinketh no evil, nor speaketh no evil..for would ye not be guilty of calling what HE does – evil, if

    ye truly believe HE is in control of all things?
    ManofGod777

  • @Kristyn

    >>There is a difference in taking notes on a sermon and Twittering. Twittering is to tell others about what you are learning. The purpose of taking notes is to help you remember things later…

    True, but if you’re writing the same words is there a difference?

    >>Taking notes on paper is less distracting than pulling out your latest techno gadget to key in tweets.

    That may be true or you, but is it true for everyone?

    (BTW, I love the spelling of you name. My kids’ names are Ainsley, Aidyn, and Aryn. 🙂 )

  • @Don – That was my reaction as well.

    The more I think about it, the more I think it depends on the situation and it depends on the person. I find “raw” note-taking during a message helpful for remembering and applying it. However, if I am thinking about how about how to craft those notes into messages others will find interesting, helpful, etc then that the filtering of the raw notes may be a distraction.

  • To hear that people are not distracted from the sermon on ground sounds strange, but i rest my comments as a little distraction will make the meaning of the whole thing out of context. True sharing with none Christians what goes on around the church community is good but not while the message is on

  • Hello!

    While reading this interesting article, I am reminded of the time I was asked ‘why do you write so much.? ” This was in reference to church services, and Bible Study. While I am big on taking notes, as they have proven to be excellent learning, and teaching aides, and quite fruitful on my Christian journey, they are on a whole different level. The attention factor ‘is’ present
    and the notes are shared “after” the service.

    While ‘Twittering,’ or ‘tweeting’ on the other hand, seems to be a distraction as there is the possibility of someone diverting your attention away from the main focus, and in my opinion, would not help me to remain focused during a service. Whereby relinquishing the tech piece to the category of…”Mind Your Manners,” unless sending tweets to yourself for future reference. This could be an exception, but there is still the possibility for abuse.

    Distraction is defined in the American heritage Dictionary as: a diversion from an original focus; any thing that compels attention or distracts, especially, an amusement. It is to cause to turn away from the original focus or attention, or interest; to sidetrack, and the word ‘divert’ again. So, again, anything that disturbs, takes attention away from, or distracts in our ‘Fathers House’ is not honorable.

    Yes, complete focus should be on worship. Anything less, can be rude, and inappropriate, interrupting.

    An emergency, tending to a baby is one thing, deliberately diverting attention, is another.

    Gods Blessings and Peace

  • @ Jerome – Why did I not sight Scripture for my statements? Sometimes common sense weighs in well also. Every Christian has the Holy Spirit guiding and directing us by conscience and common sense. This is the reason I said, “In the end, it’s up to each of us to decide what the best way to get the most out of the service would be.” The Lord moves us in different directions.

    One thing I am wondering about though. My husband is a preacher and he’s an avid believer in taking notes and studying them later. He got me thinking – if the preacher says to twitter, then it’s a congregational effort and it’s less distracting if everyone knows you are doing it. But in a simple service at our church it’s not appropriate as the pastor hasn’t made the request. Once again…it’s all in the Lord’s calling.

    @ Paul – Thanks! My first name is my mother’s fault. My last name is my husband’s fault (Phipps). It’s awful to make phone calls and people ask my name and the spelling. I have to come up with all kinds of acronyms! I also passed the blessings to my daughters. Brienna (not Brianna) and Elizabeth (not Elisabeth)…LOL.

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