There’s a relatively NEW form of communication spreading rapidly over the internet and cell phones. It’s called TWITTER (www.twitter.com) and every pastor who believes in staying in touch with parishioners should CONSIDER using it.
Is it hype? Nope, it’s a tool that I think is BETTER SUITED to what a PASTOR is trying to do —provide timely appreciated communication for free in an immediate and concise way, (rather than how some people are using twitter to blog the inane events of their daily lives).
A twitter is a text message you broadcast from your cellphone or laptop to other cellphones or email inboxes who have signed up to “FOLLOW” your “tweets.” It’s not spam, it’s an “opt in” system.
Tweets are limited to 140 characters, enforcing a discipline on preachers heretofore unheard of!
Since I first posted this there have been many reports of churches and pastors using Twitter in their ministry. Recently, I read about a pastor who Twittered scripture excerpts from 90 Psalms over the 90 days of summer to his members who had cell phones. It was a creative way to encourage people everyday, and help them stay connected during summer travels. What a GREAT idea.
Here’s why and how Twitter works:
Twitter is a text-message “broadcast” service that Time magazine calls “the next killer app.” Pastor signs up for a free account online. Then during the day or week, when the pastor has some noteworthy information (aka “a tweet”) to pass along to the members, he or she creates a short TEXT message on their cell phone or computer and sends it to Twitter via text message or via the Twitter website. Twitter.com then broadcasts that short text message to every member who has signed up to “follow” the pastor’s twitter messages.
- Daily Prayer Requests and Bible Verses
- Weekly Congregational News
- Reminders about meetings and special services
Messages can be delivered to cell phones, or via email or to their instant messaging box, –whichever form they prefer. But we’ll bet MOST will want them sent to their cellphone. “Followers” can respond to, or ignore twitters, or opt-out at any time. No response to a twitter is necessary.
A “tweet” is limited to 144 characters, so the message must be kept mercifully short. It’s like an electronic postcard to your members. And you can send as many as you want, as often as you want. It’s free.
Pastors can have MULTIPLE twitter accounts for different purposes if you use the web interface to tweet. (if you will be using your cellphone to tweet, you can only create one acct per phone number). Here are some uses:
- Pastor Bob’s Daily Bible Verses
- Prayer Requests
- Bob’s Meeting Reminders
- Bob’s Bible Study Announcements
- Bob’s Staff Reminders
- Daily Reports from the Mission Trip
It’s easy to sign up, easy to use, and easy to follow another person’s twitter. You label your twitter account with your name, so other people can find you using twitter search, then you simply advertise that name to your members. “Get my weekly updates on your cellphone! Send the text msg ‘follow Pastor Bob’ to 40404.”
- Bosses are using it to remind co-workers of important meetings and schedule changes.
- Kids are using it to announce weekend plans.
- News organizations are using it to broadcast immediate news on subjects of your choice.
- If you’re working with young adults who live with their cellphones 24/7, you should especially take note.
If you’re an “old fashioned” pastor who doesn’t use their cell phone much, or doesn’t text message, you can still tweet over your computer to those who DO use their cell phones and send/receive text messages everyday. Just sign up, and bookmark the twitter.com page to send your messages from there.
Did I mention all this is free?
How to Twitter:
1. You need to go to www.twitter.com and sign up.
2. Next, go into your twitter ‘settings’ options on the website and add your mobile phone number and follow their verification instructions.
This will allow you to broadcast text messages to your followers using your cellphone.
To send out a twitter to your “followers” on your cellphone all you need to is type a txt msg on your phone and send it to the following recipient: “40404” (twitter’s U.S. text message number). Twitter will see it’s coming from you and broadcast to your list of followers.
3. Next, you need to INVITE friends and members to follow your Twitter by doing the following:
Invitation the hard way:
Send your would-be followers to twitter.com to sign up, and then tell them to ‘search’ for your name on twitter and click “Follow”. That’s it. Now they’ll get all your text messages on their computer when they open twitter, or on their phone if they signed up to receive cellphone text twitters.
They can sign up their mobile phone to receive ‘twits’. They can also download free mini-applications to their computer to place pop-up twitter windows on their computer desktop that opens everytime someone they are ‘following’ sends a twitter.
The easy way to Invite people:
Tell your would-be followers to simply SEND a TXT MSG on their phone with the following info:
In the recipients field, type 40404 (twitter’s txt address)
And in the message field, type “follow username” (give them your username!)
Press send. Now they’ve signed up to receive all your tweets.
This automatically signs them up to receive your “tweets” without having to go to the twitter website and create an acct.
Here’s how YOU send ‘updates’ to your friends and “followers”…
Using your cellphone, type “40404” in the recipients field, then type a message and press send. Twitter will see your incoming phone number and know it’s you, and route your message to your list of followers.
or… log-in to your twitter.com account online and type an update msg in the “update” text field and press “send.”