But, most interesting about twitter, I think, is this article from Time, and the responses I've read about it here and here. The Time article is about Twittering in church, and how some pastors are supporting this, even setting up a screen with the twitter feed on it to scroll during worship. The responses are both positive and negative - yeah, this is a great idea to get people more involved, and this is distracting, and takes away from the personal connection that is created during worship.
I can see both sides of the issue. On the one hand, I appreciate the GBOD article (first link) in responding intelligently on this topic, giving both positives and negatives, and looking at the deeper issues connected with this. It asks why Twittering would be necessary, and challenges congregations to look at what Twitter would accomplish and ask how and/or why/why not this is already happening in the worship service. The second article simply states four reasons that Twittering should not be used in worship. The author provides four good reasons, but I don't think he really explained himself very well. However, I'm not here to critique his article. I have a few thoughts of my own to offer.
First off, I am impressed that there are churches responding to new technology. There are always some, I know, and so I'm not surprised, but pleased that the church isn't all overlooking new ways to connect and reach people. The church, as a whole, is often very behind the times in terms of contemporary issues, so it's good to see some trying to be involved in what's going on in the world. Being in the world, but not of. I also think some of the critics are a little harsh - give them a break! At least they're trying. It's like Amazon's Kindle... the first one, I'm sure, sucked. There were good things about it, but bad things, too, but at least it was out there, and it could be improved on from that point. Twittering in church, if it's ever going to happen, has to start somewhere. We're just at the beginning.
On the other side, however, I completely agree with the GBOD's article and the four points in the other blog about why this is a bad idea - namely, taking away focus on what's going on in worship, and removing that personal connection. Twittering is supposed to help people connect when they are not together. When you're together, talk to one another. Connect face to face. And, also, worship is supposed to be a stepping out of your daily life to renew. If you twitter and tweet all week, isn't a break needed?
The best thing I think from the original article was its discussion of what's happening at Next Level, a church in North Carolina. The article cites that this church is not monitoring or displaying the twitter conversation, but isn't discouraging it from happening. I think this might be the way to go - people who want to be involved in it can be, and it won't distract others. Isn't that what twitter is in the first place? It's there to be there for those who want to use it, and if you want a break, or don't understand it, or are distracted by it, you just don't have to be involved.
Finally, I think churches considering this need to ask a very important question: why do we worship? I think we get so involved in wanting to bring more people in to worship, into membership in our community, that we forget the real reason we're there. We're there to worship God. We're not there for ourselves. Worship is an act for God's glory. We're not even really there to "get something out of it." Bible study, Wednesday night dinners, covenant groups, and all the other activities of the church are there for us to learn and grow and serve. But Sunday morning worship (or whenever you worship) is specifically about honoring God. So, as we look at making worship purposeful, we have to remember what the real purpose is.