I began “twittering” for my daughter. She works on the Hill in D.C. I am able to keep up with her as she uses her BlackBerry to give regular status updates through the social networking device called “Twitter.” My husband’s reaction when she told him that she wanted me to start “following” her was, “Honey, Mama doesn’t have time to get involved in another online network!” Frankly that was my reaction as well. But I wanted to keep up with her and I wanted to please her, so I did.
It was not long when I began to see how this sort of quick updating might be beneficial to our team of field personnel. You can follow us at http://twitter.com/cbfintlscluster . In no time at all we began having a variety of folks from various places in the world follow us. Some are individuals and some are organizations. Some are like minded and some are not. Strangely, I did not seek them out when setting up the account. The majority of them just found us online and started following.
This past weekend, North Carolina CBF held their annual general assembly. They focused on authentic evangelism. Just days before the assembly, they asked those of us who had twitter accounts to be a part of their group and to “twitter” the event. Basically, some of us posted online through twitter short statements of less than 140 characters rather consistently permitting anyone who followed the group to glean insight as to what was happening during the event. I must say, I rather had a blast with it. Not only did it make the proceedings even more engaging for me, I enjoyed reading quick “bites” on others’ perceptions. But what surprised me was the reaction of outsiders. I received a variety of comments, but one in particular sums up why twitter can be a valuable tool for assemblies such as this: Thanks @cbfintlscluster for the tweets about the assembly. Gave me much to think about for some time to come. Now this is someone who does not have a connection to CBF as far as I know, but following the updates in quick one sentence blurbs turned her thoughts toward issues concerning evangelism. This is good!
So why is everyone all “a twitter” about Twitter? Well on a personal level, I like keeping up with my daughter and with twitter I can have her status updates sent to my phone. But I would like to suggest just 10 ways that twitter can be beneficial to mission organizations and churches:
- As seen this past weekend when a twitter group is formed and you have several who are giving regular updates to the event those not participating can not only keep up, but through updates they glean some of the same learning and insights.
- Field Personnel can let those who support and care for them know what they are up to in a quick status update keeping them engaged and interested in ongoing work.
- Churches and ministries can keep the progress of a project or an event before constituents thereby helping them remember what is on the horizon.
- Strange as it may seem, relationships are formed. As a result of this weekend there are several people that I am not only more aware of, but I am tuned in to what they are up to and able to look for ways to help or plug in.
- Prayer needs go out quick and without lengthy explanations. Many prefer this versus a prayer letter.
- Valuable tools and resources can be shared. There is rarely a day goes by that I do not either tap into a resource or am able to share one.
- Insights into the world outside our own whether another generation, another country, or another faith is easy to take in and digest as you read the statuses of a wide variety of people.
- Twitter groups designed for a youth group for example can be a source of help and encouragement in a world that is becoming so complex that too many are neglected and disconnected.
- Twitter can be used to direct others to your website if you have something in particular you would like them to make note of and not miss…this blog for instance. : )
- Twitter can be used during an event such as a breakout or a webinar for those who are not on site to post questions engaging them directly in the event.
In all of this there are cautions to be sure. We are followed by a couple of other organizations that are not at all in tune with the vision and goals of our cluster. I try to be sensitive to what is posted and how it will be perceived. Short statements means that words are few and may be misunderstood. It can be time consuming. Regardless, twitter can be a very useful and dare I say “fun” tool for churches and ministries. That is why everyone is all a twitter about twitter. Http://twitter.com if you are interested.