Monday, 4 May 2009

Twitter in church

This morning Eugene had a tweet about twitter in church linking to an article in Time magazine about pastors encouraging their congregations to tweet during church!

Bizarrely enough it's something I've been thinking about. It is easy to sit with your mobile in hand (on silent of course) and send a few messages. I'm not admitting to doing it, because I don't think I have, but I've certainly thought about it. Students do it via laptop in lectures (I know they do, because sometimes they send me emails). It can be a way of people connecting with each other and with the 'experience'. Yet is is "virtuous", is it being the kind of people we want to be? Maybe there is a place for sitting and listening without having to publish a response?

I am struck by the contrast with the instruction in the Westminster Directory of Public Worship (1645) which tells worshipers that "The publick worship being begun, the people are wholly to attend upon it, forbearing to read any thing, except what the minister is then reading or citing; and abstaining much more from all private whisperings, conferences, salutations, or doing reverence to any person present, or coming in; as also from all gazing, sleeping, and other indecent behaviour, which may disturb the minister or people, or hinder themselves or others in the service of God."

It is a very different world. But maybe there is some wisdom in the Directory. What do you think?


Pete Moore said...

The Directory (consistent with the WCF) is certainly very strong on individuals not engaging in individual horizontal 'fellowship' with other Christians during 'religious worship', but Calvin much less so. In a recent paper at Discendi Studio I argued that Calvin had a prominent place in worship for koinonia, which he defined as including individual expressions of 'brotherly association. In his later commentaries he concluded that this could include individual moments like the 'holy kiss'. If we can give each other (necessarily individual?) holy kisses, perhaps we can send holy tweets?

Kristian Hartberg said...

I'm guessing that children in church was not common in 1645?

People have taken notes during sermons for years. Is doing it with your mobile or laptop in the digital age any different to pen and paper?

The opportunity to share with others (who are not at church) a great point that has just been made in the sermon seems like a positive, but would the temptation to put your top five list of jelly bean colours on facebook prove too much if the sermon wasn't grabbing your attention?

How much should we move with the culture or train God's people to listen attentively to the preached word?

John McClean said...

Kristian, I'd guess you're right about children.

I noticed in Broughton Knox's biography that he grew up in a clergyman's family but did not start to go to church until he was school age. I know that the 1920s are not the 17th C., it reminded me that things we take for granted weren't always so. I wonder what happened in the 1640's.

Anonymous said...

saw a link for your post on Eugene's tweet. I think there's value in considering this - if the Church has the techie grunt to support it.
could have heaps of potential to integrate q&a, real time answers to any queries that are raise during the message etc, makes the sermon more dialogue-y (if you're into that paradigm), could provide some insight for followup messages, application studies etc.

I think the "distraction" component is not dissimilar to people taking notes during a message. I've noticed sometime when I'm taking handwritten notes, I miss comments etc - but the notes still aid my study and follow up afterwards. If I just sit and listen, I'm not going to recall and remmember as much as when I take notes though, so I still favour taking notes.

perahps a good application might be a mid week followup blog post (if you can't technically support real time or same day interaction. Something along the lines of ... Last Sunday we had some questions raised in Twitter on the text/topic/etc - here's a few extra thoughts...

At this point I'd happily advocate being flexible with the concept - whilst still shying away from a full blown take-up until there are some processes and technology in place to manage it and use for God's glory and the gospel.