By definition, the word Twitter refers to drivel amounting to little more than blah, blah, blah. Even in the animal kingdom Twittering can refer to a sparrow's blah, blah, blah in bird-talk. It was Blah, Blah, Blah, that is, until 2006 when Jack Dorsey created, expanded and with friends, developed the free Internet social networking and microblogging service that enables its users to send and read messages called tweets.
Twitter.com initially posed a simple question to the Twitter user, What are you doing? This launched a million 140-character or less messages with pretty much what you'd expect, pointless blah, blah, blah. Eventually, the blah, blah blah majority of tweet content expanded with news, spam, self-promotion, conversations, and value-content messages. In November 2009, Twitter chose to focus on their news and information network strategy by changing the question it asks users for status updates from "What are you doing?" to "What's happening?" From doing-reporting to happening-reporting. From action to results.
Twitter teaches the church how to bless the world by taking responsibility for results.
How much are you willing to change your behaviors to achieve your goals? If your goals matter to you, if your goals are meaningful and important and return value to the world, it will require deep-change to achieve. The only way to know if your doing is working is to pay attention to what is actually happening. This is what Twitter's question-change helped me realize; fixating on what we are doing must give way to focusing on what is actually happening.What’s Happening? (Together, our response could transform our future.)
In the church, we spend an enormous amount of time talking about what we are doing. Dare I describe it as blah, blah, blah twittering? (Yes.) It is often meaningless twitter. OK. Some of the doing is pretty cool stuff. (But only some.) The tragedy is we don't know the good-doing from the bad-doing. We just do what we do. We keep drinking from the once living, now-stagnate, stream. We are drunk on ourselves. We think the world owes us respect and response even as we furtively replicate, celebrate, and propagate the blah, blah, blah. We keep doing everything except reciprocate. (When is the last time your religious institution had to pay a property tax bill, or your spiritual leader had to pay taxes on housing? And you think your church owes nothing to its community? Don't get me started.)
We know better. We don't do better.
That's why the church could answer the earlier incarnation of Twitter's invitation (if it knew what Twitter.com was, that is), What are you doing? with up to 140 characters. Sure, we're doing. See, we proudly still do what we did when we learned how to do it from those that did it like we do.
The medical profession aspires to an (even higher?) oath beyond that of many clerics (I'm talking to my Presbyterian tribe, so don't take offense). They promise to Do No Harm. We don't even know most of the time what we are doing. Our church reality distortion field has taken over. We have been so busy doing (something, anything), we forgot (refused) to consider the outcomes of our do-do.
How much are you willing to change your behaviors to reach your community with the Good News empowered by your faith? (You got good news, right? If not, quiet please.)
The Apostle Paul had the same question posed to him from the moment he met Jesus on the road to Damascus. Rigid, legalistic, controlling Paul was empowered to change his behaviors to become a resilient and adaptive change agent. Paul became increasingly authentic as he centered his life on the Risen Christ, a continual spiritual transformation connected his call to his context. He became real and realized that people he met did not have to have the same spiritual encounter that he did. As lead ambassador, he did not expect a Pentecost Experience to be normative in the life of the burgeoning church. In fact, the menu at church suppers were totally changed when Paul got into the kitchen. Paul surmised, like Twitter, that his doing could not be detached from outcomes of what he did. He noticed what was really happening. He observed his world. He paid attention to people from the rock stars to the starving. He connected to the web of life in the public square and took responsibility for his behaviors as he understood the consequences of his actions. Paul set goals. He changed. He correlated his doing with happening and with great personal sacrifice and by setting aside his personal preferences, he learned and loved; and the world changed.
The implications of this are huge.
Whatever our unique context, our opportunity is to become a servant of all so that everyone has an opportunity to experience God's love where they are, their way. Laying aside our preferences and expectations empowers us to more effectively connect to our changing context. We have to pay attention. We have to take responsibility for our behaviors as pastors, elders, deacons, and every other connected person in congregational life. It matters.
We must choose to reciprocate. We do not live in a vacuum.
Our congregations are not in a dress rehearsal. There are no stand-ins to do the ministry for us.
We cannot lease space in our buildings pretending to serve the world by proxy.
Our doing matters when we take responsibility for what happens when we do what we do. By God's grace, we ought to be practicing patterns of forgiveness, restitution, restoration, transformation, generosity, and hope which turn our do-do into blessings.
We want to make a difference in the world. God wants to make a different world through is. We can increase the capacity of our communities to raise the level of hope. The church can become volunteers who know that a growing and vital church results when it empowers a growing and vital community.
Can we, like Twitter, grow and develop to report less on what we do and more on what is really happening? Without reliable and valid data we are subject to tyranny and guesses. What’s Happening? Your response can transform your future.
Follow me on Twitter and see what's happening: twitter.com/kevinyoho
(Scripture reference: 1 Corinthians 9:19-25 (Message) "Even though I am free of the demands and expectations of everyone, I have voluntarily become a servant to any and all in order to reach a wide range of people: religious, nonreligious, meticulous moralists, loose-living immoralists, the defeated, the demoralized—whoever. I didn’t take on their way of life. I kept my bearings in Christ—but I entered their world and tried to experience things from their point of view. I’ve become just about every sort of servant there is in my attempts to lead those I meet into a God-saved life. I did all this because of the Message. I didn’t just want to talk about it; I wanted to be in on it!")