General Ministry
Josh Griffin

Twitter and Facebook have become regular and prominent parts of being involved in youth ministry. I didn’t really get the purpose of Twitter at first, but once someone described it to me as:

“Facebook is for connecting with people you went to highschool with and Twitter is for connecting with the people you wish you went to highschool with.”

I have a hard time disagreeing with this claim, but it doesn’t resolve my wrestle with the role that Facebook and Twitter can and should play in my ministry life. I follow some pretty bright minds on Twitter and some fall into the Twitness category: sharing verses that challenge me and quoting Charles Spurgeon, amongst others, to provoke thought. There are some that share leadership strategies and thoughts, some promoting themselves and others who tweet about their lives, the vacations, family happenings, funny things they see, etc. My tension is that it is still not clear to me what role twitter and facebook should play in ministry. The two paradigms I regularly see people align with are:

Twitness: I find much of what I would consider twitness type content on Twitter to be very encouraging and helpful to me as a Pastor and a Christian. It’s great to read the thoughts and feelings of others and hear about what they are reading or learning. But my dilemma is — who is my audience? My twitter followers are a mixed bag of friends, students, youth pastors, youth workers, Christians, non-Christians and Atheists. We are called to make disciples, but I just don’t know if reciting scripture and tweeting assertions of God’s sovereignty is the way that I can accomplish that. It’s not that I don’t see value in this style, but I wonder if it’s having the desired effect that the writer intends.

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Transparent: This is the direction that I tend to lean towards; not because it’s easier, but because the biggest impact on my leadership has been people who I have seen living out their faith in all aspects of their lives. I love the idea of my life being open to my students, leaders and friends. That they can see the way I live, the way I love and honor my wife and family, my love of Christ and the things that I value. My desire has always been to model a Christ like lifestyle that is real and attainable. I want my students, friends, colleagues and congregation to know who I am, what I stand for, and what I care about. Perhaps this is not for everyone, but I don’t always understand why some keep a guard on being transparent.

So if you were looking for a definitive answer, you came to the wrong place, but perhaps you have some thoughts on where you land on this. At this point, I am not ready to be a full on Twitness because I am not sure where I am going to land on the spectrum, trying to strike a balance between investing in my students, friends, and congregation with wisdom and scripture, and allowing my life and ministry to be a true reflection of myself and my walk with Christ.

Geoff Stewart is the Pastor of Jr & Sr High School for Journey Student Ministries at Peace Portal Alliance Church and regularly contributes GUEST POSTS to MTDB. Be sure to check out his Twitter stream for awesome ministry goodness. Want to get in on the fun and write up a guest post yourself? See how right here.

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  • Tom Shriver says:

    Interesting post. I agree with most of what you’re saying, but that is why I deliberately made my twitter for ministry purposes only.

    I only follow fellow youth ministers, pastors, philosophers, organizations, etc. I don’t follow many friends or youth. I do this and use twitter for encouragement and support in youth ministry. Now, I can’t really help who follows me, but since I tend not to follow any of my youth or friends (unless involved in ministry) it makes it easy for them to not find me on twitter.

    I use facebook as my “socializing network”. Now if Google+ would just take off with everyone, then I could use it for both purposes. Looking forward to that so I can condense to one social networking site.

  • Geoff Stewart says:

    Tom, thanks for your comment. What I am finding is that the mixture of people, including my wife’s non-Christian colleagues follow me too, perhaps I am past the point of being able to choose which direction.

    There was one thought I forgot to mention in my post, that being that I follow Rick Warren on Twitter, I read his tweets that are infinitely wiser than mine that he posts at 4:50am, posts about reading a book a day etc and I started to get a bit of a superman complex about him, but I get the same about others too, when I think, this guy only reads the Bible, all day long. But Rick tweeted a few weeks back about filling up his truck with gas and how expensive it was and it clicked for me, that he is human, he drives an old truck and then for a moment the super man guise was off.

    I am just concerned that for other pastors, students and friends that I will give an untrue or unrealistic snap shot of my faith and life in general.

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