Tropical Sands Christian Church has an interesting mix of people. We have people who established their musical taste long before the Beatles, and those who are too young to name a single Beatles tune. (And the very fact that I selected that band tells you where I fall in that spectrum.) We have members who don’t know we have a website, and others who think that printing a paper newsletter is for dinosaurs.
Today, just having a website is not enough. You need a Facebook page and a Twitter account, and there are probably other significant social networking services that I’ve neglected.
Facebook is a social networking website that lets people post photos, links and updates. If you list someone as a friend on Facebook, their updates will display on your news page, and vice versa.
Say what you will about the trivia that passes for news on Facebook. Between my wife and my daughter, it gives me easy access to more photos of my new grandson than any wallet can hold.
I use Facebook to stay in touch with most members of our youth group and many other members of the church as well. The easiest way to contact other churches is to find the pastor’s Facebook page. If you want to friend me on Facebook, you’ll find my page at Facebook.com/pastor.joel.tucker. And to keep track of our youth group, go to Facebook and do a search for “That Youth Thing” to find their Facebook page.
Twitter takes that simple concept and narrows it down one step further. On Twitter, you’re given 140 characters to post an update. If someone “follows” you, your Tweets, as these updates are called, will show up on their page.
I post church news and other tweets on Twitter.com/TropicalSands. I don’t find very many church members on Twitter, but I do find a lot of Disciples ministers, schools and churches posting news updates on Twitter.
I like the structure of a Tweet — 140 characters, no more. In my view, people are cheating the system by including a web address to a larger article. A Tweet, like haiku, should be a self-contained idea, and not an introduction to a larger article. A pure Tweet is self-contained. And then there’s the perfect Tweet — a self-contained idea that is exactly 140 characters long. I love the challenge of structuring Twitter posts to be pure and perfect Tweets!
Recently, a Tweet led to a blog that challenged Disciples to write a statement of faith in under 250 words. I responded that we should raise the bar with something even shorter, that a 140-character Tweet was big enough for a well-written statement of faith.
I came up with the following: “Emmanuel, God with us. The Creator, most exalted, became the Lamb, most humbled. That’s how to love, how much He loves, and how big love is.”
But I continued playing with the format, typing various ideas and scriptures into the character-counting Twitter input panel. I was astounded to discover that the classic English version of the most popular Jesus quotation was in itself a pure and perfect 140-character Tweet! It goes like this: For God so loved the world that He gave his only begotten son, that whosoever believeth in him should not perish, but have everlasting life.
Who knew that John 3:16, taken from the popular King James Bible, would be a perfect fit for one of the internet’s most popular and exacting social networks, some 400 years after its translation?
I get a feeling that God knew. I’m sure God cracked a smile when the Twitter developers said, “140 characters. That’s enough.” It’s all the creed we need!
It reminds me of an ingenious mission statement, written decades ago for Tropical Sands but still Tweet-ready with 61 characters to spare: “Our mission as Disciples of Christ is to Profess Faith, Proclaim Hope, and Practice Love.”