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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

  • All of the replys are great but I have a question. How do we know that the ones that are twittering are sending notes on what they are listening to?

    I am a pastor and have been faced with teens texting during the service. Following the service I ask one about the message and was told that it was to a friend and they were making plans for the afternoon and that Sunday night.

    My own gut feeling is that we should be capable of getting through three hours of worship (Wed. night, Sunday morning, Sunday night) without the need of twittering. Now I know some will say that I am not open minded but I am. I use every convenience possible but there is something to be said about being in God’s house and giving him time to speak to my heart without the world being involved.

    We have discouraged twittering, texting and the use of cell phones in our worship services. Our people now use the silent mode and most do not even respond but to make sure that it is not an emergency. Our congregation has firemen, rescue and police (state & city) and they respond to their pagers without disturbing the service so I think we all can get by without having to have the convenience of twittering during worship time.

  • I don’t believe I’m wrong to say that a worship service is not for us but for the One that we worship. The benefit that we gain from the precence of the Holy Spirit in worship is not why we are to worship God. When we choose to try and spread that worship to those who are not there we are then trying to give them the benefit with out expecting them to participate in what brings us that blessing in the first place. Worship is not for the believer it is for God. As some one who has an evangelistic heart I will be the first to say that when we make worship all about evangelism then when do we worship and praise the One who has who has searched for worshippers (John 4:23)? As a Youth Minister who preaches every Wednesday night I try to prepare messages that lead to people asking questions, but if they focus to much on the question then they don’t hear when I use scripture to give the answer. My point is this the bible is full of stories of people who had encounters with God, Jesus, and the Holy Spirit, who after the expierance ran and told people but I don’t know of any who said hold on God I’ll be back bfore your done! Remember what Jesus said to those who did what they wanted then tried to put God’s name on it ” These people draw near to Me with thier mouth. And honor Me with thier lips, but thier heart is for from Me. And in vain they worship Me , teaching as doctrines the commandments of men.” Matthew 15:8-9

  • @Harold – You asked:

    “How do we know that the ones that are twittering are sending notes on what they are listening to?”

    How do we know the ones who are writing with pens and paper are writing about the message as opposed to passing notes or writing up a shopping list? Just playing devil’s advocate. 😉

    “I think we all can get by without having to have the convenience of twittering during worship time.”

    I think that’s a great point. Is there really any downside to waiting until after the service is over to Twitter about it?

  • My pointing out what is to follow may be viewed as irrelevent to the topic being discussed. However, it may help to better understand just where Next Level is coming from – and going to.

    For those who may not be aware of it, Next Level first made a name for itself in the national media through its ‘shot glass ministry.’ They distributed free shot glasses to bars in the Ballentyne area of Charlotte as a promotional gesture, hoping that bar patrons would be enticed to attend their services. Hung over from a Saturday night at the bar, one wonders how seriously these prospective converts, having found out about these people from a shot glass they drank out of the night before, would view attending their first Next Level service there with a congregation full of people ‘twittering’ away on their cell phones, as if narrating a play-by-play commentary at a sporting event. How can such conduct in ‘church’ be anything else but a distraction to those around the ‘commentators’, who may be people who prefer hearing their sermons firsthand?

    A far better idea would be for them to webcast their services over streaming video. Online church services avoid misinterpretation of the message by intermediaries, and keeps everyone focused on what a church service supposed to be – the message God is trying to send to the people through their pastor.

    Your opinions may differ, but I don’t think mainstream Christian America will accept this behavior, or view it in any other way than as what it is – a distraction. One can only wonder what this ‘church’, which seems to prefer provoking controversy over disseminating the message of Jesus Christ, will come up with next to draw attention to itself.

    Respectfully submitted,

    Rob

  • I have to agree with Harold and James. God has certainly provided wonderful technological devices which can be used for His glory – after all, Ps. 24:1 says, “The earth is the Lord’s and the fullness thereof.” However, I believe this type of thing is best answered by the apostle Paul’s comments in 1 Cor. 14:35, where he urges women to be silent in the church. This was because men and women were separated in seating back then and only men had a chance at an education, so they might understand things the women did not; but Paul said the women were not to distract from the worship by talking out across the aisle to their husbands, but rather to ask them at home, after the service. In other words, we should focus our attention during the service on God, and on what He is saying to our hearts even regarding our fellowmen.

  • growing up in the Church, during confirmation we had to do sermon notes. We had to write down 2 main points and 2 stories used to illustrate the main points. Then do what does this mean to me.

    I have seen a Church use Live Blogging during service to great reward. It helped those who could not visit be still involved online.

    I see twittering as a useful tool to spread the word. I have many believers and unbelievers following me on Twitter. Although I use my account mostly for Education Purpose, My faith is always shown, which has caused some debates on twitter. You really get important information shared when you debate on twitter, you don’t waste your limit on nonsense batter.

    I have seen individuals in Church, write notes, text, talk, use iPods, and even DS Lites. Do we know what is in their hearts? Yes, it can be a distraction, but what is the means behind it?

    We are to spread the word. I have had many pastors, tell me to write down my thoughts as we worked through a Bible story or listen to a sermon. Sharing our thoughts with the world, is just one step forward for the kingdom of God!

  • […] … Today's six-no-trump deal, from the second qualifying session of last year's Life Master …Church Promotes Twittering During Sermon Christian Web …Next Level Church in Charlotte, NC encouraged people to Twitter during their recent Easter services. […]

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