Twittering in Church: Is It Really New?

Time Mag has an article called Twittering in Church. The trend sounds pretty new, at least to Time and a Christianity Today writer who credits the use of twitter in church to a pastor in Michigan.

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Funny. That Twitter bird doesn't look anything at all like a DOVE!

Actually, the use of participatory media in church has been around at least 20 years. When I was an associate pastor at Glenwood Community Church in Vancouver, Washington, back in 1989, one of our congregants was a Christian geek named Paul Miller who had created a Bible language software program that would work with his pocket PC. So when I and the other pastors preached, he would be tap tap tapping on his gadget to check up on us. How INTIMIDATING! But also reassuring to know that we were accountable and could have others adding their knowledge which was obviously more than our own.

Interestingly, the program Paul created was called Gramcord and it became the basis for other Bible language software programs.Well done, Paul!

Later on, it was WiFI in church that linked up the geeks on the back pew who dared to sit through church with their laptops. Praise God for the power points on the back wall! My first WIFI experience in church happened in Japan, in 2002. I later posted a blog called The Wifi Enabled Church and made 10 predictions about how an internet signal would or could change the way we do church. It was pretty controversial but well received. Actually, it has probably changed the seminary classroom more than the church experience.

Today, with phones, ipod touch and other mobile devices, and Twitter, its quite easy to be a Berean to check up to see if the preacher is correct and what other people might say about the topic. Easy, but not new.

And for some of us, church is a place to get away from technology rather than resume our addiction to it. But sometimes it is a bit of both.


Andrew Jones launched his first internet space in 1997 and has been teaching on related issues for the past 20 years. He travels all the time but lives between Wellington, San Francisco and a hobbit home in Prague.


  • I twitter, but never in church. Your right twittering isn’t new at all, just a slight variation on the past;it’s basically a fancy way of passing notes. I remember getting in trouble for such things as a kid, why should it be any different today?
    I saw the recent influx of laptops & wifi in the class at the university, though there are times when it is convenient, mostly it is a distraction–give me one good reason anyone needs to be checking their email/facebook/twitter in the middle of class, when you should be engaged with the teacher and their teaching.
    Same goes for church. I think many if not most churches are like mine: after the service is dismissed everyone makes a dash for the door. Instead of twittering comments about the service, why don’t people actually interact afterwards, they could even share a meal together–that’s community.
    Twitter may be good for those times when people are separated over distances, but when you are in the same room…why?

  • John Voelz says:

    Good read, man. I am that pastor in Michigan and, though the conversations have been interesting, I am a little surprised it has caused such a stir.
    Sure, we were probably the first to use Twitter in this capacity but certainly we (and many others) have been doing these kinds of things with participatory media for a couple of decades. I think the first time we (as a congregation) typed prayers into a computer and displayed them for all to read and participate was about 15 years ago.
    TIME was very great to work with. And, I have appreciated the opportunity to talk to many about change, innovation, incarnation, etc. So, all in all, if it took a little thing like Twitter to surface a need to talk about some things and help some people start to imagine once again, the attention has been worth it.
    The thing that has really caught me by surprise are the voices who raise some of the same arguments about Twitter that I heard 25 years ago when we wanted to use a full band rather than just piano or guitar. In some ways, this conversation has made me sad that we really haven’t come that far.

  • andrew says:

    John. Thanks for commenting. I hope my post was not insulting in any way to you. Its very interesting what you were doing 15 years ago and I am sure Twitter adds a whole new dimension to the experience – something that we probably still dont realize the impact. Keep on.

  • Melanie says:

    I’m sure that 140 symbols is enough for pray.
    It is YOU who must believe and it doesn’t matter how you express you belifs, where and when!

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