A few moths ago, a blogger named Brian Baute put forth what he claimed to be the first “Tweet the Gospel” challenge. The idea was to share the gospel message within the confines of the 140 character (That’s characters, not words!) limit of Twitter. In case you are not familiar with Twitter, here is a brief video that will tell you in plain English all you probably want to know about this mini-blog application that has been one of the hottest applications on the net. (Which may mean it is already old news.)
Brian Baute’s idea was to challenge his readers to sharpen their writing skills to set forth the gospel message within the 140 character limit. You can check out some of the responses on Brian’s blog (Click Here) or share some of your own as a comment to this post. In checking Brian’ s responses I was struck by how many different theologies of salvation can be set forth in 140 characters. (Maybe that’s the Lutheran in me. Even in an emergent theology there must be some norms.) I also came to the conclusion that the Bible itself had some pretty good “Tweets” in 140 or less including John 3:16.
“For God so loved the world that He gave His only Son that whoever believes in Him should not perish but have everlasting life” (127)
I’m probably not one who will sign on to Twitter. First, I don’t even keep my cell phone on all the time, let alone feel the need to be in constant contact with my network of friends to ask “What are you doing now?”. Secondly, I really have to work hard to communicate in bites of 140 characters or less. Like a lot of new technology, Twitter may be in today and out tomorrow, but the network theory and emergence theory behind it is something that the church will have to reckon with and make use of in the days to come. Twitter is part of the “Web 2.0” phenomenon that you need to understand if you want to comprehend the emerging “Convergence Culture” that I talk about in other posts. Simply put, when computers first came on the scene, they were productivity machines, replacing other tools like typewriters, adding machines, filing cabinets, telephone directories, etc. With the popularity of the graphic interface and the World Wide Web, we entered Web 1.0, where computers became information machines using applications such as Google and Mapquest to connect us to specific web sites. Web 2.0 refers to the use of computers as the basis of a social network of wikis, blogs and social applications such as Facebook and MySpace as well as a new generation of business and information applications such as Wikipedia, Skype, Craigslist, and del.icio.us which are collaborative, social networks of information sharing and relationships. If you want a short, mindboggling introduction to all of this, check the following video entitled “The Machine is Us/ing Us”. .The implication of network theory and emergence theory for the church is a little too much to be contained in 140 characters, so that will have to wait for another post. In the meantime, ”Tweet” away. Can you communicate the gospel in 140 characters or less? Give it a try.