?”What are you doing?”
That’s the question atop my Twitter home page, followed by an empty box into which I am expected to deposit my
activities, plans, dreams, hopes and collected wisdom-all in 140 characters or less.
That’s one of the things about Twitter that sticks out: You have a grand total of 140 letters, characters and spaces to record your thoughts for a single “tweet.” (That’s what they call the messages you create in Twitter. I know, it’s all very cute.) Of course, some people do cheat, creating a sequence of tweets that are connected. The only problem is that you have to read them in reverse order to make sense. (I’ve heard a few sermons that had similar structural problems.)
Frankly, I don’t typically find the 140-character limit to be all that limiting. Maybe it’s because of learning to write tightly in my journalist days. Maybe it’s because I’m not doing all that much or due to my having a paucity of wisdom to share. Some preachers, however, clearly struggle to keep their tweets within such limits. (I suspect they have the same problem on Sunday mornings.)
The preachers I follow on Twitter use the site for a variety of purposes: Some talk about their activities (such as one preacher today telling us he’s on the way to get a pedicure-more information than I really needed to know); others share brief thoughts or inspiring comments (some more inspiring than others); others suggest interesting Web links; and a few carry on conversations with each other. That latter one is particularly interesting when I follow one of those preachers but not the other, thus insuring that I am tuned in to half of a conversation.
It does seem to me that there are several useful purposes for which preachers can use Twitter. Here’s my top 10 list:
1. To alert church members to that terrific new sermon series on the history of the Jebusites, starting this Sunday!
2. To link to that third major point from last Sunday’s sermon-the one you had to omit when you ran out of time.
3. To make sure your other preacher friends know when you are doing something cool that they aren’t doing. (All in a spirit of humility, of course.)
4. To find a last-minute lunch buddy. (Hopefully one who picks up the check.)
5. To share that great quote you meant to use in last week’s sermon but forgot until it was too late.
6. To ask your preacher friends to help you with a great illustration for next Sunday’s sermon.
7. To get to use that great comeback that didn’t come to you until the guy was already gone.
8. To have yet one more excuse to justify to your wife why you need to buy that new iPhone.
9. To compete with your old seminary buddies over who can get the most “followers”-people who subscribe to
reading your tweets-unless, of course, you went to seminary with John Maxwell (34,000-plus followers), Max Lucado (25,000-plus followers) or Rick Warren (14,000-plus followers-but then he just started last week).
10. To alert the deacons when you are going out on visitation. (Just don’t tell them that you have named your new boat Visitation.)
Michael Duduit is the executive editor of Preaching and Dean of the College of Christian Studies at Anderson University in Anderson, South Carolina. You can follow him on Twitter at www.twitter.com/MichaelDuduit.