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What Happens When the Church and Twitter Collide?

This week, The Telegraph ran a story about a vicar from Weston-super-Mare who has taken it upon himself to bring the church crashing into the 21st century.

Posted Friday 23 Mar 2012 in Social Media

He did this by incorporating tweeting, video technology, PowerPoint presentations, and a love of all things social into his sermons. In case you missed the article, here are a few highlights.


​The sign outside the church reads “Abraham 123″, not as a helpful hint regarding which Bible readings might feature in the service for the congregation, but as a reminder of the Wi-Fi network password for the church.

Churchgoers are encouraged to tweet the vicar before, during, and after the service in an effort to make attending a service a more immediate, engaging experience for the younger generation while also attempting to spread these benefits to a wider local community often dragged down by social issues such as drug abuse and alcoholism.

The vicar also seems to have a personal aim of encouraging locals to “employ social media in order to spread God’s word”.

All in all then, an interesting case, but one that has drawn intense criticism from some quarters since The Telegraph ran the story.

In fact, criticism of the vicar’s idea, and the church that encourages it, has been wide-ranging, with some believing that providing visual representations of the sermon’s messages alongside the vicar’s words risks dumbing down the inherent meaning of the service, others believing that it’s just a desperate effort from a local church to combat falling attendances with the latest internet “fad”, while others seem to think that the vicar is simply satisfying a personal need for recognition fed by vanity, which the church morally rejects.

Rights and wrongs aside, one thing is for sure: the debate proves how divisive the rise of social media in our society has become. There’s no doubting that Twitter, and other similar services, have been a massive success, financially and otherwise, but with that success come the inevitable downsides, as we risk becoming more engaged with our mobile phones and more concerned with condensing our thoughts and opinions into 140 characters, than we are about actually living our lives.

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