Still not a Twitter fan, nor am I a follower.*
I came across this Time article about how many churches have begun incorporating Twitter into their worship services. It's not necessarily a unique concept, as churches have been doing the same thing with text messages for a couple of years now. But what I wonder is, why even invite this into church in the first place?
The person obsessed with contextualizing the old, old story to a fast paced world will insist it is critical that we acknowledge the way in which our world communicates. But as the article I linked to a couple of weeks ago displayed,** does Twitter actually promote the kind of communication that the church should truly want? And more than Twitter itself, I think this comes down to an understanding of church worship.
Despite the way that many media conglomerations and companies have recently taken advantage of Twitter, it is a platform the elevates the individual for the world to see. Juxtapose that with the church, a word that means "assembly" or "community," and worlds collide.
You might already be thinking that there is much in the church, especially in the worship service, that accentuates the individual. This might be true, but it should not be. The point of corporate (communal) worship should be: NO ME, MORE WE, ALL FOR HE. When Christians gather together to praise God, we do so with united voices, not with a singular voice. Music should be sung together, prayer should be offered together, communion should be taken together, and the exploration of God's word should done together. Even though the community is sometimes represented by singular voices in these instances, they should be mindful to be representative of the entire church.
At Echo, we've been studying through the book of 1 Corinthians and one of the primary issues that plagued that church is that they had a community full of people who wanted their voices to be heard. They brought a "me" mentality into worship where they would literally outshout other worshippers. As Paul tells them, not everyone's voice should be heard during worship; we all have different gifts, some more upfront than others. The worship service is not the place for inclusiveness and individual expression. This might not seem very postmodern, but it is biblical.***
The one quote from the article I found disturbing was the following direction from the pulpit: "if God leads you to continue [to Tweet] as a form of worship by all means do it." Call me cynical, but when I read that, I can't avoid hearing, "you do whatever makes you happy and it's good with God." And maybe it really is, but is it really what's good for the community.
Corporate worship should symphonically combine voices instead of distinguishing them. Rather than hiding in our hi-tech world, we need to deprogram ourselves in order to emerge from our technological burrows. Where else do we have such an opportunity to allow people to disconnect from their grid?
Text and tweet if you must, but turn off the cell phone in church.
*It might seem that I have declared war on Twitter. It's really not the case. Tweet yourself to death and have a great time.
**My favorite pull quote from that article: "The broadcasting of the spectacle of the self has become a full-time job."
***Aaron preached on this text at Echo last week. Unfortunately, we didn't get it recorded. If you want the text, you could always email him and ask him for it.