Today I want to talk about how we can use Twitter hashtags as a way of fulfilling Paul’s command to let the “word of Christ richly dwell within” us as a community.
Many of us are reading through the Bible together in one year (You can get all relevant information, including the one year pamphlet PDF here, and we’re excited about it! What may seem disconnected is the “together” aspect of reading through the Bible. Obviously, we’re in different parts of California, and, well…I’m not coming over to your living room every morning to go through a minor prophet.
But in an age where technology allows people all over the world to be unified on current events as diverse as the Occupy Wall Street movement to the downfall of a regime, why not use (redeem?) the same technology to unify each other in the living word of God? What if I didn’t have to come over to your living room for a Bible study, yet we had access to each others devotional insights and well as theological quandaries?
Twitter hashtags allow scattered people to converse with one another.
Try it for yourself. Do a Twitter search on a niche hashtag like #Millennials.
What popped up? An endless list of content regarding Millennials! People all over the world are pumping out blog posts, articles, and Retweets about 18-30 year olds, and they “brand” their content with the hashtag #Millennials. That means anyone who searches for that hashtag will pull up a stream of that content.
Imagine reading through the Bible together while creating a collaborative environment for it on Twitter.
This would mean that a continual stream of Scriptural content would be produced by THIS community of people for THIS community of people! (depending on how many people chose to give it a shot)
How do we start?
All of us begin to tweet questions, insights, or quotes about our daily readings, while include the hashtag “#1YearBible” at the end of the tweet. Check out what it already looks like by clicking on the stream here.
What do you think? Want to experience the Word together? Absolutely I do.
I am a college pastor, worship pastor, and husband. Yet, I also blog and tweet my face off. As some of you may have experienced, it can be hard to find the time, let alone the content to broadcast when you sit behind your computer on a Saturday night. Here are four social media functions I have found to be invaluable when researching content to tweet or blog. In fact, when I use these regularly, I almost always end up with too much content on a Sunday night.
You know when you see a word, or a one-word phrase with a “#” right before it? That’s a hashtag. A hashtag is just simple metadata; a quick way of categorizing a topic so that it is easy to track. For example, if you want to follow everything that can be said about the upcoming explosion of shark festivities next week, just do a search of #SharkWeek. It’s an easy way to sift through all the information and uncover the content you’re after. In fact, it was by using Twitter hashtags that I learned about the earthquake in Chile and Haiti, and the death of Osama and MJ before any major news station. Information travels in a millisecond, and hashtags instantly funnel them to your device.
You ever get lost in all the informational noise? After you follow a certain amount of people, your timeline will be overwhelmed by many people’s tweets. You can unfollow them, or you can assign them to different lists. For example, I have lists for missiologists, lists for worship leaders, and lists for college students at Adorn. There are some Twitter clients that emphasize lists, making it functional, and readily accessible (TweetList and TweetBot come to mind). Instead of trying to look for gold in the middle of hundreds of tweets about bowel movements and Justin Bieber, you can just focus on the Tweeps you know will send good content your way.
This is easily one of the most neglected functions on Twitter. Those who do click on it use it as a way to pat someone else on the back. I suggest favoriting articles and resources that you plan on coming back to later. It’s like having Instapaper in your Twitter client. You’ll slowly begin to archive useful information.
I know this isn’t a Twitter function, but I would be remiss to ignore it. As a pastor, I find blogs as vital as books. They are a constant flow of daily information, and when you follow blogs that are within your interest, e.g. college ministry, college life, short-term missions, etc., you will always have good information at you fingertips. If you want to get crazy, download a reeder app on your phone, tablet, or computer.
I have to share one last thing. You have to have a niche. Meaning, you have to focus your blog on something that matters to you. If your blog is about “theological ramblings” or “my random thoughts” it will be so broad that hashtags, lists, favorites, and reeders will simply add to the noise, causing you to be more overwhelmed with how much is out there that you don’t care about. Further, you will fail to get the short attention span of internet junkies who are looking for something focused.
For example, instead of focusing my blog on “Theology, Worship, and Saving the Whole World for Jesus” I decided to go with something more focused, like “dispersing communities of Christ-like millennials back into the city.” Now anyone who has the same niche can count on my blog to meet that standard, and vice-versa. It becomes reliable. Then in order to post content that meets that standard, I start saving blog posts in my Reeder, and researching hashtags like #missional, #millennial, etc in order to focus the stream. I focus on other Tweeps who have an interest in college ministry, by looking through my missional-ministry list. I archive everything I may find useful, by favoriting them all for later use. Then I start blogging in my niche.
At the end of the week I end up flooding your timeline. And that’s what separates me from the Lazo of two years ago who just “doesn’t get twitter.”
Do you have any Twitter tips that have helped you study, research, or learn?
I recieved a variety of different responses to my last post on e-books, and why I was leaving print behind for electronic reading.
Now, let me be clear, I don’t blame people for wanting to stick with printed books nor have I felt blame from anyone for reading a Kindle. E-book reading is mostly personal, and the various reasons given for abstaining are mostly all understandable.
There is however, one reason that is not understandable, which I’ve noticed is often a reoccurring barrier not just to technology but in how we do anything; fear of change.
When our reluctance only stems from a fear of change, growth and effectiveness seem to stop with us.
Now this isn’t my battle cry for all people everywhere to use an iPad for reading, or tweeting instead of email. In fact, I don’t care how you read, or what you use to commnicate. The issue for me is much broader. I’m simply stating that if our only reason for staying rigid in our particular systems, practices, and methods is a fear of changing, and that fear of change becomes for us habitual, than we’re eventually going to be left behind in the rubbish heap of nostalgia very fast. Grow old in your wisdom, but not in your stubbornness! Here’s what I mean…
Ever hear (or make) these types of statements:
- I don’t get it. (usually directed towards Twitter)
Well…learn by doing ;-)
- It’s only a distraction and a time waster! (usually directed towards Facebook)
And you’re right! But so is driving on the highway in traffic, and yet, we do it everyday for a reason, while putting it to good use.
- You’re always on that thing. (usually directed towards the iPhone)
Well, you’re always reading 1,000 page classic Russian novels. Choose your poison, and prioritize your time.
- Kids these days!
Hey! Remember when you had to turn on the Television to find out about the natural disaster that happened last week? I don’t. I read about it on Twitter Trends in real time before CNN posted it.
Now, neither generation is better than the other. In fact, we need each other! We can and should learn in community together.
The younger generation should learn from the experience and wisdom of the older generation. But the older generation should learn to stretch their boundaries with the tenacity and risk of the young’ins. We would make a great team if we did this, and I’ll be the first to admit that young people like me usually destroy ourselves and others in our unharnessed zeal, especially when we don’t listen to the wiser generation.
But it’s not meant to be a one-way street, right? Because here’s what happens when the experienced generation begins to fear change: nothing.
Click to see what I mean