Tuesday, April 28, 2009

Taking Church Tweeting to New Levels

WHILE CHURCHES LIKE OASIS ARE SENDING OUT TWEETS TO MEMBERS THROUGH THE WEBSITE, OTHER CHURCHES ARE TAKING TWITTERING TO A WHOLE NEW LEVEL.

Trinity Church - New York

This New York church recently gained national news attention when they decided to Tweet a version of the play
"The Passion of the Christ" for it's followers to read. For three hours on Good Friday, Trinity's Twitter followers got constant updates, telling the story of Christ's death. 

The church was quoted on their website saying it would be "a unique passion play that marries the timeless Christian Tradition with the latest in social networking trends." While they took down the play's Twitter page after the original day, you can still check out their Twitter: TrinityWallSt.

Westwinds Church - Michigan
This church has actually held what they call "Twitter Sundays." This is where the church uses it's large video screens at the front of the auditorium to show a live streaming of Twitter messages. They encourage members to bring their phones, and whatever they Tweet shows up on the screens.

They say the live interaction helps to engage people even more deeply in the services. You can read more about Westwind's Twitter Sunday experience on one of their
Blogs or their Website.



Oasis at The Next Level

Oasis church is also considering taking their Tweeting to another level. Some at the church say they would really like to see them use their large video screens to do live Tweeting during services. They said it would be a plus if people could Tweet in questions and the pastors could answer them during the same service. 

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Concerns
Some did however express concern that live Tweets could become a distraction.  They are worried about people Tweeting things that may not be appropriate for a church setting, or trying to be funny when it wasn't really appropriate. While the idea of live Twitter in church would be more likely to work because most of the attendees tend to be young, it also makes the risk greater.  

Positives
However other's from the church believe that staying relevant with the times is the churches biggest asset, and so taking their use of Twitter further can only be a good thing for the church.


Regardless, of how they use Twitter in the future Oasis is still on the cutting edge of churches using technology. 

Twitter in Church

LATELY WE'VE SEEN TWITTER EXPLODE, WITH CELEBRITIES, ATHLETES, AND REGULAR PEOPLE SHARING THE DETAILS OF THEIR DAY TO DAY LIVES. BUT NOW WE ARE STARTING TO SEE TWITTER SHOW UP IN A SEEMINGLY UNEXPECTED PLACE: CHURCH. YES, TWITTER HAS MADE ITS WAY INTO WORSHIP.

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Oasis Christian Center
Oasis is a tweeting church. They have Twitter pages for the church itself, organizations they have within the church, like God Chicks, and personal pages for each of the lead pastors. Many members of the churches staff use Twitter as well. Here are their pages: OasisLA, PhilipwagnerLA, NicoleReyes, Godchicks, HollywagnerLA, JustinTarsiuk, AlecMcnayr, Ktarsiuk

Why Twitter
Oasis says they use Twitter because it helps them to feel more connected to their members. By using Twitter the Pastors are allowing people who normally would only see them in a church setting to see more into their lives. It helps people to feel like they know them on a deeper level. It also helps to convey information about events or news within the church to a lot of people rapidly.
Special Events
On Sunday, April 26, Oasis had a 25th Anniversary celebration. They brought in Israel Houghton, a Christian singer, to perform for the celebration. But instead of announcing it the Sunday before, or on their website, they decided to first notify people with Twitter. They thought this would help members of the church feel more connected if they had Twitter, and it seemed like it worked.
They also use it to remind people of things like changes in service times, or that there are special events for the groups coming up. But more than anything, having pastors Tweet really helps people "get to know them beyond the pulpit."

The Twitter page is also used to ask people if they have any prayer request and to put up Bible verses. Oasis says they have a lot of people who respond their prayer request tweets, so they consider that a successful way of using the site.

Bringing in New Members with Twitter
Using Twitter has also helped Oasis church to bring in new members. Director of Ministries, Nicole Reyes, says she believes this is because being able to follow the church on Twitter and also they people that work at it, helps to eliminate one of people's biggest fears about coming to a new church: Not knowing anyone.

Nicole says, that when people follow people from the church on Twitter, they feel like they know someone, and what the church is going to be like, and they are more willing to come check it out.

When Do They Twitter
Oasis updates the churches Twitter at least once a day throughout the week, but they often do so multiple times each day. On Sunday's they update their page after every service, so that people who missed service can still feel like they know what was going on.
Tweeting during service
The church also encourages it's member's to tweet during the services. They say they enjoy reading what points people thought were important. By tweeting about the messages the pastor's talk about, the tweeter, also will remember more about what was said.



CHURCH AND TWITTER MAY NOT BE THE MOST CONVENTIONAL IDEA, BUT OASIS BELIEVES THAT TWEETING IS ALL ABOUT CONNECTING WITH PEOPLE, AND THEY SAY "CONNECTING WITH PEOPLE IS WHAT WE'RE ALL ABOUT."