What I Learned from “Tweeting Church”

A bit of a book review of Tweeting Church

I just finished Paul Alan Clifford‘s book, Tweeting Church. I read it, not because I hope to establish a significant presence in the twit-o-sphere (is that a word?), but because I am always interested in how technology can engage people — especially regarding Christian faith.

Here are some of the things I learned from the book:

Twitter is not about phones.

When I first signed up for Twitter, I had everything going to my phone. Wow — how annoying. Even following the re-enactment of the first Apollo Moon Landing was too intrusive for me — and I was at camp! And I love revisiting those Apollo missions.

As Clifford wrote about his interaction on Twitter, I realized that lots of it takes place through his computer. When I set up an account with hootsuite, I realized how easy it was to browse tweets on it.

Twitter is a great way to get news.

Clifford talks about getting information through Twitter. As a result, I subscribe to slashdot’s twitter feed and get tech news now. I loved knowing that Kindle was sold out today before my son (who is into tech more deeply than I could ever be) knew.

Twitter is a great way to discover new resources.

Because Clifford is into tech in the church, many of his tweets point you to links that are helpful. He’s not the only one doing this, naturally. So following him and some of the people he follows provides ongoing tech education.

Twitter is a good way to connect.

In fact, Clifford says that Twitter is about relationships. Since I figured out how to use the @ and DM features, I see what he means! *duh*

I needed to follow people on Twitter.

Early on, when using Twitter, I was cautious about who to follow. I didn’t want a load of messages flooding my feed. But that’s because I was following the wrong kind of people — namely some friends who had nothing significant to post, i.e. “I just saw a blue bird!” Reading about the kinds of people Clifford follows, I realized that I needed to follow people who would bring value to my life — people who would challenge me to grow spiritually, professionally. and academically.

One area I want to grow in is that of photography. So I thought I would follow the guys at Luminous Landscapes, but they haven’t updated their Twitter feed in a while. However, when I followed them, Twitter suggested this guy: https://twitter.com/ClydeButcher . I started following him and saw some pretty neat images.

Some “celebrities” are worth following.

Being a science fiction fan, Clifford follows @SyFy. I think that’s because he likes the news he gets from Craig Engler and he likes how Engler represents the network. It’s a model worth emulating. I follow Ryan Clark of the Pittsburgh Steelers. I follow him because he is a Steeler who has a great attitude about God, life, his family, people, and … oh yeah, football. Reading this morning that Clark is babysitting seven little girls while the mom’s go shopping made me feel good about the world. Since I enjoy hockey, I also subscribe to the Pens.

The main problem for me regarding Twitter is that I live in rural Pennsylvania where people are not “early-adopters”. You might classify us as “late-adopters” until you get to know us, then you realize many of us are “never-adopters.” This applies to changes in everything from worship to facebook. (I can’t tell you how many times I’ve read, “Awk! I’ve been Timelined! OH NO!!!”). We are one of those sociological groups, who by our nature, resist new philosophies, ideas, and technologies. I say “we” because I grew up here, but I have worked hard to overcome this tendency in my own life. Helping others overcome it so they can use Twitter is not a place I will spend much energy.

However, there are people — even in my neighborhood — who are using Twitter. So for them, I tweet, both as Curwensville Alliance Church and as ShieldsGroup.

I recommend Tweeting Church. It’s well organized and helpful, whether you’re just starting or working to build a following.

Oh — here’s my twitter feed, if you want to follow:


SERMON: About The Resolution for Men

As a kid at Mahaffey Camp, I remember a speaker saying something that surprised me. They went something like this:

Now, some of you are going to really encounter Jesus at camp this year. You’ll make commitments that can change your life. Something you should give thought to is the reaction of your parents. When you tell them how your decisions and they say, “Yeah — right. We’ve heard this before. We’ll believe it when  we see it,” how will you respond.

I say this surprised me because, honestly, it never crossed my mind that a parent would be so cynical. And I immediately realized why my parents, in their wisdom, had never done such a thing: It would teach the child to, either, never make a promise again, or never share such a thing with Dad and Mom.

But I see Christians exhibiting this kind of cynicism too frequently.

Recently, men from our church stood before us and took The Resolution — from the movie Courageous:

  • I DO solemnly resolve before God to take full responsibility for myself, my wife, and my children.
  • I WILL love them, protect them, serve them, and teach them the Word of God as the spiritual leader of my home.
  • I WILL be faithful to my wife, to love and honor her, and be willing to lay down my life for her as Jesus Christ did for me.
  • I WILL bless my children and teach them to love God with all of their hearts, all of their minds, and all of their strength.
  • I WILL train them to honor authority and live responsibly.
  • I WILL confront evil, pursue justice, and love mercy.
  • I WILL pray for others and treat them with kindness, respect, and compassion.
  • I WILL work diligently to provide for the needs of my family.
  • I WILL forgive those who have wronged me and reconcile with those I have wronged.
  • I WILL learn from my mistakes, repent of my sins, and walk with integrity as a man answerable to God.
  • I WILL seek to honor God, be faithful to His church, obey His Word, and do His will.
  • I WILL courageously work with the strength God provides to fulfill this resolution for the rest of my life and for His glory.
  • As for me and my house, we will serve the Lord. —Joshua 24:15.

I can’t imagine a parent, brother, sister, or even an in-law responding to that in cynicism. On the other hand, I can imagine the enemy, Satan, replying in that manner. But not someone who is living in the Spirit. NEVER.

When you encounter men who have taken such a vow, don’t discourage them. Instead, may I suggest you  do two things:

  1. Pray for these men  — that they will carry out this commitment.
  2. Encourage them, telling them that you believe in the sincerity of their commitment and the power of their God.

A sermon concerning The Resolution is here.

REVIEW: Christ Among the Dragons

A brief review.

“Here there be dragons!” the ancient cartographers wrote on the uncharted waters of their maps. Uncharted waters — areas where we’ve not gone before.

I just finished reading James Emery White’s book, Christ Among the Dragons, a Father’s Day gift from my children. White is becoming one of my favorite authors. I stumbled upon his blog a couple years ago and now follow him on Twitter.

In Christ Among the Dragons, he speaks of areas of Christian faith that this generation needs to explore:

  1. Truthiness — what is truth?
  2. What does it mean to be salt? How to engage our world?
  3. What does it mean to be Christians Together in a world where Christian bloggers and writers act like they hate one another?
  4. What role does The Church play in a society where, even to many believers, she is perceived as irrelevant.

My favorite part of the book was where White spoke with clarity about the sin of envy in the hearts of many pastors and bloggers. I believe he was right on.

If you’re looking for a good Christian read that will stimulate your thinking, I recommend the book. I left it feeling encouraged about the possibilities that lie in the areas I’ve not yet explored.

A review of another White book I’ve read recently is here.