June 9, 2008 I created an account with Twitter.
Today, I posted my 20,000th tweet.
4.5 years of my life is chronicled in 140-character tidbits which, if I did the math correctly, comes to approximately 2,800,000 characters. I’ve been thinking this morning about the the ways God has used twitter in my life and ministry. We hear a lot of the dangers and abuse of social media and the Internet, but on occasion we will hear a report on how it has positively impact someone’s life. I for one can say that it has been a great experience thus far, for at least the following five reasons.
1. People I’ve Met with Twitter
Between blogging and Twitter, the overwhelming majority of people I know in evangelical life came through these digital avenues. My life has been enriched by friendships, several that developed to a greater degree offline and in “real life”. Twitter opened the door and created accessibility to people who I otherwise would have never had the opportunity to meet. Often times late at night, I end up having an extended conversation via direct message with people I’ve rarely (if ever) talked to on the phone or email. So Twitter has essentially flattened the world for guys like myself who don’t pastor a large church, published a book, or have influential people in my corner to have opportunity to connect, network, and build relationships online.
2. The Twitter Help Desk
If ever have a question or practical need, I ask my Twitter followers first. Seriously. I cannot recount to you how many times I have been helped by people, many I don’t know, who care enough to reply when, for instance, my son decides to practice drawing with a massive permanent marker all over our furniture, television, and flooring. On more serious matters, I was leading our church to transition to small groups, and for 3 hours one day, I had over 15 people dialoguing with me via Twitter which tons of experience and practical counsel, logging in over a hundred tweets tailored specifically to helping me lead my church. It was like a customized, decentralized conference with a panel of folks from across the country address the specific challenges with incredible relevance. I was blown away that day. And still am.
3. Tim Keller Reading Group
Two years ago, I started a Twitter experiment based on similar tweets from friends. We all apparently were reading similar Tim Keller articles and tweeting them the same day. I decided to create a Tim Keller Reading Group using Twitter exclusively with no other online or offline promotion. The result was a six-month journey with 75 people from 24 states and 11 denominations and 12 video conference calls. Twitter provided this platform, and many of the guys I got to know during that process have become good friends.
4. Social Media/Networking Training
I find this really crazy, but over the past couple of years, I have been asked to speak at three conferences on the role of social networking and media to the local church and ministry. They have ranged from church planting bootcamps and seminars to collegiate conferences. If I ever thought I’d speak at conference, social networking would have never been on the radar. Yet, God has allowed me to encourage hundreds of church leaders and students on using social networking for the glory of God, for that I’m grateful.
5. Resource and Renewal Aggregation
Before Twitter, I relied almost exclusively to Google Reader for aggregating information and resources. With increasingly limited time, I use Twitter for my main stop for helpful links and encouraging devotional thoughts. I even took the time to compile a 36-part series from Scotty Smith with 720 tweets of “signs you are growing in grace.” To a smaller degree, I have done this also with tweets from Paul Tripp and Tullian Tchividjian. God has used Twitter to bring me encouragement, exhortation, and rebuke from people I know and have great respect.
I could give you several other ways Twitter has been worth the (little) time each day. I hope that the 20,000 tweets logged over the past 4.5 years have been some profit and encouragement to you as well.
For other articles on Twitter by me, check out: