Bottom line: I don't think Jack Dorsey (@jack) realized it at the time, but Twitter was made for the church. That may sound crazy to you, but read the following article by the New York Times and you may understand where I'm coming from: Christian Leaders Are Powerhouses on Twitter. Also, just watch Twitter explode on any given Sunday, as church members tweet, retweet and mention their favorite Pastors and Christian leaders. I'm a big fan of social media, but this article by the NYT solidified its importance especially in the church world. Not only are Christian leaders and speakers some of the most retweeted personas on the social network, but Twitter itself is seeking to add more members to its service by encouraging and training churches and Pastors to use Twitter effectively.
“We had looked at different groups, like C.E.O.’s and high-level executives, thinking, oh, do we need to spend more time with them? ...And then this religion thing popped up.”
The article references two example tweets, one from Katy Perry, a huge music artist with over 20 million followers, and the other from Bishop T.D. Jakes with approximately 460,000 followers.
Your words will tell others what you think. Your actions will tell them what you believe.
— T. D. Jakes (@BishopJakes) April 23, 2012
Sometimes Jet lag makes me feel like a cross eyed crack head #muststayawake
— Katy Perry (@katyperry) April 2, 2012
The tweet from Bishop Jakes received 2,490 retweets, while Katy Perry received 2,491. Percentage wise .5% RT'd @BishopJakes and only .09% RT'd @KatyPerry; if it were a matchup, @BishopJakes wins. So what does that mean for you as a Pastor or church leader? It means people care what's said about God and the church. What's even more important is that people want to share the message of Christ's love more than ever before.
There are several "success" stories in the article about small churches and businesses creating huge growth largely in part to Twitter. And it's honestly not that difficult. Don't be vague or standoffish on Twitter. And don't think 100% of what you tweet needs to contain church-y or religious material. Be personal sometimes and share your life with people.
As I've said before, engagement is the #1 benefit of Twitter, so let people know you ate at Outback the other night: it creates connection. Tweet photos of your family having a good time or share a struggle you're currently having. Obviously don't be completely transparent or open on such a large scale, but developing trust between you and your followers makes it exponentially more effective when you share the message of Christ to someone who also knows you struggle like they do.
Also, in response to Jon Acuff's quote in the article:
“There’s no precedent,” he added. “We can’t go, ‘Here’s how C. S. Lewis handled Twitter.’ ”
I think C.S. Lewis would have killed it on Twitter, and he would have loved it.