Archive for the ‘Social Media’ category

The Most Amazing Medium of Communication

November 5, 2010

The age of telecommunication has taken some amazing strides in my generation.  I remember growing up with the 50-foot telephone cord in the kitchen that could stretch to every corner of the house.  Then came the answering machine and “cordless” phone.  It was always fun to see how far in your front yard that you can go before you loos the signal.  Then came the pagers.  I still can’t figure out that one.  Perhaps we can chalk that one up as a step backwards, but don’t tell that to the tweenager in the 90’s who was convinced that having at least two of them qualified you for being a really important person. 🙂

With the advent of the cellular phone, things picked up rather quickly.  We moved from being able to talk over the cell phone to being able to communicate through instant messaging, text messaging, and phone calls through the Internet.  Speaking of the Internet, not only could you call, but you could video chat, including conference calls, and livestream from anywhere in the world.  Of course, the world of social media opened up ways of communicating through Myspace, Facebook, and Twitter, turning our lives into a communications hub for the world around us.  If I factored all the ways I communicate on a weekly basis, it is truly remarkable (cell phone, text, email, instant messaging, Facebook, Twitter, livestream, and video chat).

But this morning it hit me.  I’m talking about the most amazing medium of communication.  What am I referring to?

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Twitter Is Not Real

May 20, 2010

Don’t get me wrong.  I really enjoy using Twitter, and the past two years of “tweeting” has done a lot of good for my soul.  But still, Twitter is not real.

It is not real for the simple reason that people are very selective on what they choose to tweet, and how many of the people you follow are willing to tweet their real lives?  When someone just got in an argument with their spouse and asked for forgiveness, who tweets about their need for forgiveness and prayer for repentance?  Christians, especially pastors, are prone to tweet about the successes or fruit from their labors, but who tweets about seasons of struggle, emptiness, or barrenness in their soul? Let’s face it.  Twitter resembles more of a collection of high school yearbook quotes than the book of Psalms.

The beauty of the Psalms is that it is uncensored reality from the lives of God’s people.  There are shouts of praise next to laments of “how long, O Lord?”  There are moments of seeking the face of God and extolling his infinite worth (you are my portion, whom do I have but you) and there are moments where it seems God has abandoned them in despair.  The full range of emotion and experience is expressed in the Psalms, but on Twitter, you get the veneer of virgin skies unfamiliar with the storms of life.

So my caution to all my friends on Twitter, be careful.  Don’t believe what the updates are telling you all the time.  It’s not real.  There are thousands if not millions of updates that go unannounced that, were we to know them, would change the “face” of Twitter.  If King David were tweeting today, my hunch is that many people would unfollow him because many of his updates wouldn’t sound good enough to be retweeted.  But that’s the difference between Twitter and the real world.  God saw David’s heartfelt confessions good enough to be recorded in Scripture and has resonated with saints throughout the generations.  So while your last Twitter update may resonate for the next minute, it is good to reminded that reality is not grounded in momentary novelty.

Churches, Pay Attention to the Social Media Revolution

May 7, 2010

The new Socialnomics video . . .

Social Media and the New Frontier for the Local Church

February 13, 2010

The videos below are not new but perhaps might be new to some of you.  I’m posting them because of their implications for community and church life.  The rise of social media/networking cannot be overlooked, both the pros and cons, on the future of the church.  If you church is in tune with the socialnomics and seeking to use technology to engage your culture, let me hear your thoughts.  Much similar to Kent Shaffer, SEO can carry more potential for evangelism in the future than we realize.

The Social Media Debate: To Use or Not to Use

November 19, 2008

Earlier this morning, I watched a portion of Aaron Marshall’s presentation (via live-streaming) at Southern Seminary entitled “How to Use Social Media for Ministry WITHOUT Overloading, Burning Time, and Losing Your Religion.”  In the introduction of his post, Marshall writes,

Social Media is said to be the biggest change in communications in the last 50 years. These social technologies are revolutionizing the way people are conversing, collaborating and connecting. If your goal is to reach people and bring glory to God than this is something you cannot ignore.

I wrote last week why I use Twitter, and I am fairly networked on the internet with several blogs, Facebook (and groups) and a couple of Twitter accounts.  On the same morning that Aaron Marshall gave his presentation advocating social media for ministry, I checked out what my good friend Owen Strachan had to say and the questions/challenges he presented in his blogpost, “Questioning Twitter and Status Updates: Or, How to Become Unpopular with Everyone in a Few Short Paragraphs.” Here is the latter portion of his well-articulated argument:

I also wonder about the danger of narcissism with this new method of communication.  Why do we need to tell each other what tv show we’re watching?  Why do we constantly change our Facebook profile pictures?  Why do we blather on forever on our blogs about what we’re doing, liking, missing, and hoping?  Ours is a narcissistic, self-focused generation, and the level of this narcissism boggles the mind.  We know so little in the way of self-control and modesty and are so skilled in the ways of self-promotion and impulse-gratification.  I fear that our Facebook pages, Twitter accounts, and blogs all too often represent a shallowness of soul that cries out for attention we do not need and should not want.

Look: all the cultural momentum points away from self-control, modesty, and the pursuit of a significant life.  We are encouraged by culture to be self-promoters, shallow, technologically obsessed, and unconcerned with the larger things and bigger questions of life.  I can’t tell you how many times I’ve seen all of these problems cohere in a student in a class on some important Christian doctrine updating their Facebook page.  This, I would argue, is our generation’s constellation of problems captured in a single picture.  One is self-promoting (oftentimes), frequently posting a silly picture or comment, surfing the web, and ignoring complex instruction that requires concentration and that will almost certainly stretch and bless one’s mind and soul.  Such behavior is too frequent almost to notice and frighteningly bankrupt.

Many of us can make a quick sarcastic remark, but how many of us can follow a philosophical or theological argument?  Or, better yet, how many of us would want to?  Wouldn’t we rather Twitter, or check our email, or our Facebook page, or play a fun electronic game?  Most of us.  And most of us are becoming spiritually and intellectually thin, even as our narcissism grows bloated and our instincts for self-promotion wax hot.

I would challenge readers: speaking generally, don’t use Twitter.  Cultivate deep thinking even as you use technology.  If something smells strongly of self-promotion, give it a pass.  Be a part of Facebook, of other media, but do so thoughtfully, responsibly, edifyingly.  Glorify Christ not simply in how you use media, but in what media you use.

What are your thoughts?
(you can say it in more than 140 characters if you want)

Why I Use Twitter

November 12, 2008

twitter-logo-6When Twitter first came on the scene, I was really skeptical of this medium (I still have a few reservations).  According to the Twitter FAQ page, Twitter is “a service for friends, family, and co–workers to communicate and stay connected through the exchange of quick, frequent answers to one simple question: What are you doing?”

I began to tweet at the beginning of the summer (early June), and since then I have over 1,300 updates and 190 followers.  Since then, a number of friends, family, and fellow church members have joined as well.  Others that I have hardly known have developed into frequent correspondence.  Recently, I thought about writing down some of the reasons why I found Twitter to be a profitable medium, and here are six that I came up with.

1.  Networking

90% of the people I know in evangelical and Baptist circles, I know through the blogosphere.  Several them I have come to know better through Twitter, and others I am getting to know for the first time.  Twitter is allowing me an opportunity to connect with people whom I otherwise would have little to no interaction.

2.  Journaling (Instant Photo-Journalism)

twitter-logo-5I love photography, but one of the things I hate about shooting with a professional camera is all the post-production processing.  By the time I am through, the images feel outdated.  Twitter has afforded me the ability to instantly post pics via Twitpic in a photo-journalistic manner (albeit the images are not that great).  If you have a camera phone, this is really easy and fun to do.

When I originally started my blog, it was intended to be a journalistic update of my life and our family.  When it turned into an issues/topic driven blog, I minimalized the personal touch.  Twitter allows me to communicate with friends and family more about the ins and outs of my life, how they can pray, etc.  With the iPhone, I am able to Twitter in almost any location and any time of the day.

3.  Learning (A La Carte News)

Another cool thing about Twitter is the ability to get news and information about things from those in the Twitter network.  I guess you could say that it acts like a live RSS Reader of sorts.  I also post links and info to others I find important or worth reading.  In addition, I sometimes post quips or notes from my study that I hope are encouraging to those who “follow” me (much of which later finds its way on the blog).

4.  Plugging (Blog Redirection)

I use Twitter to plug new blog posts (from P&P & Sowing Grace) and Flickr pics when they are posted.  The ability to shorten URL’s through SnipURL, TinyURL, ln.cr, and is.dg, makes it easy to maximize the 140 characters and provide a brief annotation about the link.  I usually generate 10-15 visitors from the Twitter plugging (not much, but I’ll take it).

5.  Listening (Dialogue)

One of critiques about Twitter is how narcissistic it feels.  I think, in general, this is true.  But Twitter can also be a great listening medium.  For instance, while drafting this post, I asked those who Twitter why they chose to do so, and I immediately received over a dozen responses.  I find that I learn a lot by listening to the responses of others in a two-way conversation where I am the inquirer and they are the informers.

6.  Laughing

twitter-logo-1I’m for the most part a pretty intense and serious-minded person, but I really enjoy a good laugh.  The commentary of friends, the goofy pictures, the witticisms, and totally random statements often serve as a pick-me-up or timely decompression valve.  For instance, here’s one that I thought was hilarious (Kevin has the weirdest and funniest tweets of anyone I know).

A little over a month ago, I created a Twitter account for Grace Baptist (we currently have 27 members on Twitter) as well as a Facebook group.  I use Twitter to make announcements, remind them of upcoming activities/events, provide urgent prayer requests, review outline from previous Sunday’s message(s), plug blogposts from church blog(s), express thanksgiving and appreciation, and share message title and text for upcoming sermons.

There are several applications I use in conjuction with Twitter.  Here they are:

Twitter/Facebook Integration – Tweets automatically posted on Facebook status
Tweetdeck – Desktop Interface for Twittering (nice because I have multiple accounts)
Twitpic – Photo sharing on Twitter
Twittelator – iPhone third-party application for Twitter
Tweet Scan – Twitter Search tool
TweetStats – Analyze statistics on Twitter

A new website called Twitip was created by Darren Rowse, author of Problogger, is a great resource for anyone wanting to get additional information about Twitter.

I am not a social media expert, nor do I pretend to know what the future holds for blogging and/or Twitter.  My guess is that those who used blogging as an internet journal will likely turn to Twitter, while those who use blogs as their main source for commentary and substantive dialogue will use Twitter to enhance their blog impact.  One thing that blogging has that Twitter does not is the SEO (search engine optimization).  Traffic to Twitter is basically inherent, while a well-established blog can generate accidental and intentional traffic from various sources, not the least of which is Googling. Nevertheless, it is accurate to say that blogging has taken a hit in 2008 while social media applications like Twitter and Facebook have seen exponential growth.

Some notable friends on Twitter include: Tom Ascol, Joe Thorn, Andy Crouch, Ed Stetzer, Thom Rainer, Steve McCoy, Jared Wilson, Daniel Montgomery, Mark Driscoll, Ligonier, Desiring God, and Tim Challies. There many other good Twitterers, but these are some you might recognize.

If you are looking to start, this post by Problogger might be helpful.  If you would like to connect with me on Twitter, here are the links:

* My Twitter (@timmybrister)
* GBC Twitter (@gracebaptist)

For those of you who do Twitter, why? What benefits are you receiving from this medium?  Has it replaced your blogging (if you have one)?  Any other reasons why you Twitter that I have not mentioned above?