Each year we open our church tower to anyone who is prepared to climb the 105 steps for the view and each year, usually, we choose the wrong date. Alas, this year was no exception – you could barely make out Blackpool tower.
What we need, I reflected, is a mechanism which lets everyone know when there is superb visibility. “Come to the tower now and see Barrow shipyards!” But such a mechanism, I then realised, now exists. It is just that we do not use twitter, not up to now anyway.
Twitter is very young – the first tweet was sent on 21 March 21, 2006. And since then it has grown rapidly, changing world events with remarkable speed and astonishing power. We saw the effects in north Africa, especially Egypt. And more recently in our own country with the downfall of the News of the World. Apparently it was twitter which mobilised many people to lobby the main NotW advertisers to withdraw their patronage.
The problem for me is that Twitter is unknown and untested. I did actually sign up for Twitter several months ago and promptly one very sad person signed up to follow me. (He could be reading this letter!) This so unnerved me that I have yet to tweet – even though 140 million tweets are sent every day.
But there again, when John Shaw explained way back in 1997 that I should start using emails, I couldn’t see the point. Didn’t we have fax already? In fact, it is not that long ago that those church members not online complained that they felt left out through not receiving these letters. But technology moves on and we need to adapt. The problem is that now we have to adapt very quickly.
The issue came to the fore at Alpha conference in London this June.
We were encouraged to use facebook and twitter as part of our outreach. A young American from the Twin Cities patiently explained to me how twitter works and by using a few key strokes (which I have now forgotten) anyone who is following Ormskirk can be told of our Alpha launch.
(Incidentally we do have a Christ Church, Aughton facebook group. Every so often I am asked to give permission for someone to join it. But I didn’t set it up and as far as I am aware it lies dormant. Any volunteers to run this?)
My vicar son-in-law, Andrew, twitters vigorously – and to some effect. His twits are received by those following Walworth as well as St Peter Walworth. I am both jealous and slightly unnerved. He kindly installed TweetDeck on my android so I can now tweet on the run. Andrew also suggested people I could follow – President Obama and Nicky Gumbel being two of them. Moreover, he encouraged me to join the Twurch of England. And RT@ twurchofengland has personally welcomed me into the fold – by tweet, of course. Their website is at http://www.twurchofengland.org.uk/
So over the next few weeks I will try and work out how Twitter works –and hopefully start tweeting. We owe the Gospel no less. For to
quote the apostle Paul, who refused to allow even imprisonment to impede his communication: “The important thing is that in every way, whether from false motives or true, Christ is preached. And because of this I rejoice. Yes, and I will continue to rejoice!” (Philippians 1:18).
And don’t forget – Cafe Vista Lite tomorrow – cappuccino and croissants, Saturday newspapers and facilities for children. (Now I think about it, I could tweet that tomorrow at 8.55 am!)