Well friends, I hope that you have not missed the big news…. Pope Benedict XVI is now on Twitter and will be sending tweets beginning on Monday, December 12. If you choose to follow him, you will find him at @Pontifex. As I have contemplated this news this week, I was reminded of something a Roman Catholic priest who was a friend of mine once said to me… “Remember, the Roman Catholic Church is like a dinosaur, it is very big and moves very slowly.” I would have to say that this is one example that contradicts that statement. I am sure that there are many denominational leaders, clergy, and church leaders who still do not even have a Twitter account and have no clue what Twitter is all about.
All of this has caused me to ponder the relatively slow movement of churches to adapt to the events of the world around them. Most who defend against this critique of the church say that this is due to the understanding that the church should not conform to the world but be transforming to the world. While I agree that the culture should not define the church since it is the Lord alone who defines the world, I do believe the argument for avoiding such things as social media is more of a cop-out. I believe it is more a fear of doing something different or not knowing how to go about doing something new. What seems clear to me is that throughout the life of the early church, the believers took aspects of the world around them and used those aspects to communicate the message of Christ. Jesus, himself, set this example when he would tell stories using parts of life which the people were familiar with to communicate the truths of God. So if the people are using social media, such as Twitter, Facebook, Google and such, to communicate with one another, then the church should use those same methods to communicate the message of Christ to the world. If the church ignores this means of communication, then it is missing the opportunity to be part of the dialogue of millions of individuals. If the church is not part of the dialogue, then the message of Christ is not communicated which is one of the chief ends of the church.
I also do not believe that this truth is related to the church alone. If leaders in organizations and companies do not use the methods of communication that the people are using, then they are missing out on opportunities as well. If a company does not have a website, then hundreds of potential customers will not be aware of its existence. Social media can provide an excellent avenue to get your message before millions of people and is a lot less expensive than traditional media such as newspaper ads, television spots, or mailers. It also allows for frequent and timely communication.
So I believe that Pope Benedict, or at least someone in his Vatican office, has come to understand this important reality. While I may not agree with what the Pope communicates or all of his understandings of the Bible, I do applaud him for entering this very important dialogue that is occurring with 140 or less characters of tweet. I will also start following him so I at least know what he is saying and make my determination of what I agree with and where I disagree with him.
- Tweets from His Holiness? The pope is now on Twitter (al.com)
- Pope takes to Twitter as Vatican woos Internet generation (capitalfm.co.ke)
- Pope’s Followers Surge Before @Pontifex Sends First Tweet – Bloomberg (bloomberg.com)