Twitter and micro-blogging

Using for ministry and evangelism

Twitter has become hugely significant in Christian ministry. It also offers opportunities for evangelism.

Twitter is a ‘microblog’ service: Twitter site [www.twitter.com] | detailed background [http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Twitter] | Newbie’s Guide [http://ow.ly/nwr] | The Twitter Book [http://www.wilsonweb.com/newmedia/wilson-twitter-book.htm] It allows you to send very short updates maximum 140 characters (how to) [www.homeschoolblogger.com/CommunicationFUNdamentals/629832] by SMS, instant messaging, or the Web, to the Twitter website, where they are viewable by others who have signed up to Twitter and chosen to listen to your ‘tweets’, or those following tweets that have specific hashtags, or through a search on the Twitter site. It is often a ‘stream of consciousness’ personal commentary, far briefer than a normal blog. For some, the idea of getting yet more electronic messages may sound like a nightmare. For others, the chance to share frequent thoughts and connect with those of others is very welcome. A Japanese [http://blog.twitter.com/2008/04/twitter-for-japan.html] version is available and is extremely popular for the same reasons that Japanese love blogging.

You can search for Twitter users on Twellow. [www.twellow.com/]

Plurk [www.plurk.com] is a broadly similar system but with a far smaller profile. (Comparison) [http://chris24.ca/web/plurk-twitter]

For news and information about Twitter, follow the Twitter Blog [http://blog.twitter.com] which will give insight into the growing potential of Twitter, and ideas for Twitter ministry you had never thought of.

Normally, it will be only people with a common interest or existing relationship who will wish share tweets.

Twitter is also ideally suited to passing on real-time prayer requests to a prayer support group, via SMS messages, or breaking news and other current information. It is therefore primarily another means of social networking and blogging. A similar purely Christian service is offered by GospelR. [http://gospelr.com]

Increasingly, people are finding new ways [www.nten.org/blog/2008/07/21/twitter-not-just-chatter-but-a-channel-for-your-cause] to use this tool. There is even a device that you can embedd in home pot plants, which will detect when they need watering, and send a Twitter message to you or designated friends, reminding you to water them!

Add-ons for Twitter

There is a growing range of add-on and other tools that make Twitter very usable. Here are a few:

See discussion on the potential of Twitter from Christians or other users:

Watch the video explaining more about Twitter:

Uses in ministry and evangelism

Twitter provides a unique way of following discussion and news, especially with the addition of subject identifiers called hashtags. Some people use it very much in a discussion mode, others primarily as a means of disseminating latest news and comment, as this site does by sending out automatic tweets when a new blog posting or newsletter is published (using the hashtag #ieway.

Twitter also works when people are in the same geographic locaion. For instance, attendees at a large seminar or meeting can twitter their questions to the speaker, which has the advantage that other participants can view the questions (unlike when attendees send questions by text message or email).

For instant response help from friends, Twitter is useful. As well as urgent prayer requests, here is an example from a Christian geography teacher:

“The best tweet I sent ever was about six months ago I had to teach a geography cover lesson and twitter-requested some pointers to water cycle animations on the internet, just a couple of before the lesson. I got two responses before it started and the best most helpful actually during the lesson!

Who to follow, and who to block (if they follow you)... I adopted a range of strategies as I worked out how the network worked. Early on I ‘followed’ people who followed people were evidently leaders. Now I tend to be interested if the other tweep is either a teacher or involved in Christian ministry, but like real life there are exceptions.”

Although its main significance may be in ministry, or building on existing relationships, there are direct opportunities to use Twitter for evangelism. We explain these here.

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