I understand why kids tweet. I understand why college students tweet. I understand why celebrities tweet.
I don’t understand why pastors tweet. I recently read some “tweets” by pastors making snarky and judgmental statements regarding the recent news that Rob Bell is leaving pastoral ministry.
[Disclaimer: I don't support Bell's Love Wins; I don't wish here to clap and cheer for Rob. I want to make a point about tweeting. I don't have the slightest clue what Bell is going to do and I don't support or condemn him.]
This occasion comes just when I am beginning Eugene Peterson’s The Pastor. Peterson is a scholar who only says something when he really feels strongly and is willing to give it careful thought and articulation. It is not that he shies away from saying negative things. He can be very “critical” in his books. But he knows the power of words and he seems to feel the weight of that responsibility.
Hear me now: I am not saying pastors shouldn’t voice their convinctions. They should when it is appropriate. “Tweets” (in my mind) are too often hasty and lack the care of a statement one would make for a newspaper or magazine.
If pastors are going to be known for a few words, it should be ones birthed rather than spat.
Confession: I have never liked Twitter, so maybe I am just not hip (at my old age of 32). Fair enough. I simply do not see the wisdom in it. To me, tweeting (with essentially only one’s opinions) feeds the ego more than the sheep. One might legitimately tweet information (“Church potluck is tonight at 6; please support this…”). One could tweet a word of encouragement (“Cast your cares on him because he cares for you.”) Do not tweet your negative opinion in a quick whim. If you are a pastor of some weight, why not call up Christianity Today and say you want to speak somewhat professionally and formally about the matter, if you think it is important.
I have said careless things on my blog on occasions. I accept that I have made errors in judgment. Twitter is less forgiving. I can redact. I can clarify.
Please, influential pastors of the world, use Twitter for information and formation, not for opinion-casting. The public, whether I like it or not, looks to you for wisdom. Be responsible.
See this article. (I think when USA Today cites pastoral “tweets,” it is generally not helping the Christian cause)