You may have noticed, if you are a social media type person, that I spend much time on Twitter.
I realize that Twitter has an ambivalent reputation in some quarters—how much in-depth conversation can you have in 140 characters? How many people want to know what you had for breakfast this morning? Aren’t you worried that the computers will one day become self-aware and conquer us all?
(Maybe not that last one.)
You will also be interested to note, though, that similar arguments were made about books during the advent of the printing press. Everyone was fairly convinced that the spread of literacy was going to wreck the world, because all of a sudden, any nutcase could just print any fool thing, and the whole world would soon be buried in dumb useless books! Chaos would reign! Cats and dogs would live together, etc!
What actually happened, however, is not chaos. What happened was something great, and something unexpected. And so, If you wander over to the #gc78 stream, despite dire fears of robot takeovers and inane meal conversations, be prepared.
What you’ll find is a vibrant community of onlookers of our gathering, observing from all over the place. Some watching at home, some watching from their deputations’ tables, some wandering in because they notice that we’re talking a lot, and asking what in the world we’re going on about. (You haven’t lived until you’ve tried to explain a saints calendar in 140 character.)
It’s like sitting in a big watch party, where everyone’s watching the same movie, and commenting as the action plays out. People voice their opinions on what’s happening, and the virtues or drawbacks of proposed legislation. Priceless one-liners are shared so we can all appreciate them. Moments where God’s reign breaks through appear with regularity.
My favorite moments on #gc78 Twitter, though, occur when a Tweeter speaks in real-time. Should someone who’s active on Twitter head to a microphone, all of a sudden, the stream erupts in cheering and clapping and great enthusiasm—no matter what side of anything we’re on. Yesterday, in my few hours on the floor of the House of Deputies, we had a couple of Twitter-ing folk up at the mics. Each time, we went nuts with support—and I know for a fact that the twitter-verse, like the Deputies-verse, is not of one mind. But that was A PERSON WE KNEW up there, so this clearly called for emojis and .gifs of celebration in our little watch party. (If you’re mystified, just Google it.)
The truth about community, especially called and gathered in Christ, is that true community remains no matter where it finds itself. If you know how to love and support people in the flesh, you’re going to be able to do it no matter how you communicate—face to face, trading notes, or typing speedily online. The medium doesn’t matter so much as the message. If we’re treating each other the way Jesus taught us, if we’re telling the gospel story, then Twitter becomes as much a fruitful community than your neighborhood parish church.
So go forth, and tweet the gospel.