Monday, February 18, 2013

Social Media and Sermons: Helping the Preacher

I have written here in the past about how social media helps me to listen to sermons and experience worship. But there's another side to the coin: Can social media help the preacher? If so, how?

Let me be clear: Twitter has made me a better preacher.

To back up a little, the best exam I ever took in college was the midterm in our senior year theology class. We were given only one page to address this: "Describe the development of Christian theology from the resurrection to the Reformation." It was then that I began to grasp the importance of expressing important ideas with both succinctness and clarity.

On Twitter, you have 140 characters. That is it. If you want to have good conversations on Twitter you have to learn how to express big ideas in short phrases.

Granted, I have yet to preach a 140-character sermon on Sunday morning, but I do preach sermons with lots of little 140-character chunks. Especially the main idea of the sermon. People want something solid, something easy to take home with them. And that's where the short, pithy summary -- a tweet -- of your sermon comes in handy.

And then there's the way ideas spread on Twitter. 

Tweets that are especially catchy, clever, or memorable -- tweets capturing an idea or moment in time -- are "favorited" and "retweeted" and responded to. They spread. They "go viral." If you spend time paying attention to Twitter as you communicate, you start to learn which thoughts and ideas tend to travel farther and faster.

Isn't this exactly what a preacher wants on Sunday morning? For the parishioners to take the sermon home with them, to remember it throughout the week (and beyond!), and to be able to share it with friends and coworkers?

If you can express the main idea of your sermon in a tweet that's shared and spread, then you can preach a sermon that the congregation will remember and share. Twitter has made me a better preacher.

There are lots of ways preachers, worship leaders, teachers, and worshipers can make use of social media. Join us at this week's Church Social Media Twitter Chat (hashtag #chsocm), as we talk about social media and proclaiming the Word. Tuesday, 9:00 PM ET.

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