Twitter has become a major Internet phenomenon: over the past seven years of its existence it has gained 200 million users but maintains an oversized influence over both the Internet and television. Twitter features “tweets”, messages of 140 or fewer characters, which a user posts to the Internet in general and particularly to those who “follow” him or her on Twitter. It may seem very strange and difficult to promote the Gospel in tweets of 140 characters or less; nevertheless, Twitter provides great potential for congregations and individuals in promoting the Gospel (Matthew 28:18-20, Romans 1:16).
Twitter occupies a unique niche on the Internet. On Twitter, any user can follow the tweets of any other user: this removes all sorts of barriers between users of Twitter, allowing fans to directly connect with their favorite athletes, celebrities, and public figures. The 140-character limit requires the user to condense their thoughts into shorter, more memorable phrases, or provides a great way to quickly inform others of news events. Many companies now use Twitter as a way to connect with their customers, quickly responding to complaints or even posting tweets on television shows or websites. Twitter also allows its users to mark tweets as “favorites,” to “re-tweet” a tweet, posting another’s tweet on their own Twitter feed, and to publicly or privately respond to another Twitter user. Twitter also features topics, a subject marked off with a hashtag for which others can search and find a series of related tweets about events, people, places, or other themes (i.e. #Jesus, #faith, etc.). Twitter remains a free service for all users.
Congregations can use Twitter to promote the work they are doing in the Lord. A congregation can maintain a Twitter feed and use it to post links to bulletins, lesson outlines, lesson mp3s, and other resources. Scripture readings can be posted (broken up into sections if they are more than 140 characters). Some may decide to “live tweet” an event, either a gospel meeting or some sort of gospel promotion in the community, posting memorable sayings from the lesson or memorable events which can encourage and edify those who follow the feed (Hebrews 10:24-25). Appropriate use of hashtags will provide others with the opportunity to find tweets and follow the Twitter feed.
Individual Christians can use Twitter in order to promote the Gospel and advance the cause of Christ. If his or her congregation has a Twitter feed, he or she can follow that feed and re-tweet some of the Scripture readings or other tweets to their followers. Christians can connect with other Christians on Twitter to encourage them and be encouraged in turn; they can themselves post Scriptures or spiritual thoughts with appropriate hashtags to glorify the Lord Jesus and give others reason to consider the faith. As with all forms of communication, Christians do well to consider how they use Twitter and whether their tweets and re-tweets honor the Lord Jesus and give reason for others to glorify His name or whether they reflect bitterness, contentiousness, or other forms of ungodliness (cf. Galatians 5:17-24, Ephesians 4:29-32, Colossians 4:5-6).
Rarely will one come to faith based only on experiences on Twitter; nevertheless, Twitter can be one resource through which people in the community come into contact with Christians and/or a local church and may express further interest in following after Jesus. Some may feel more comfortable following a Twitter feed than liking a Facebook page or making contact through a website. If we use Twitter, let us do so in order to advance the Kingdom of our Lord to His glory and honor!