I’m a proponent of social-media. Like it or not, it’s here and we have an opportunity to utilize it as an amazing tool for our preaching. The words “Hear, O Israel” in Deuteronomy 6:4 tells us that God wanted his instructions to have the maximum reach. He didn’t want anyone to miss out on what he was saying. Why can’t we have bigger vision for our sermons by being strategic by encouraging social-media during the message?
Here’s a few thoughts on why you should be okay with people on their phones/tablets during the message (and yes, I know I’m using Deuteronomy to support social-media):
1. People remember more when they write/type something down. People tend to process more of what they write down (I’ve heard people remember 85% more of they hear by writing it down). Therefore, while they’re thumbs are frantically flying across their screen, they’re focusing on what was said. And yes I recognize they could be missing the next few words of the message. But think about this: We’re upping the percentage of retention. Why wouldn’t we ask them to tweet/post? Why did God tell the Israelites to write down the greatest commandment in Deuteronomy 6? He didn’t want them to EVER forget it. Why wouldn’t we want the congregation to have the same approach?
2. Social-media networks are VERY frequented locations. “You shall write them on the doorposts of your house and on your gates.” God told Israel, when it came to the greatest commandment, to write it down in the place where their family and their guests passed by every day. People have to process what said while they’re thumbs are frantically flying across their screen.
3. Our memory isn’t as good as we think (at least for most of us). We only have so much room to work and everything battles for space in our minds. I think of when people ask me to say a “happy birthday” or “happy anniversary” from the pulpit. It’s a crapshoot with a mind that is so tuned into a sermon. I forget those requests all too often. Often, I tweet/post and forget. It’s not till there’s been a favorite, retweet, like, share, etc. that gives me a reminder of what I posted. God had Israel “bind them as a sign on your hand” as if to say, what ever you do with your hands, you’re going to get a reminder of what I said.
4. Reminds me, as the preacher, to keep things simpler. You hear it every Thanksgiving. “I’m not sure what I ate but it was good.” If we give people too much info, they might feel fed, but they won’t know what they ate because there was so much.
I will put my main points into twitter frequently. It’s not to necessarily post them. It’s to see if they fit into 144 characters (with the hashtag). Long sermons might sound really spiritual, but they’re not more effective. Having short, memorable (tweet-able) statements have a greater capacity for sticking in a persons memory as they walk away from the service to retain, talk about, and live out. How can you help people remember so that they “shall be on your heart” (*their heart)? Make them tweet-able.
For some help, Preaching Rocket does an excellent job constantly doing blogs and video-casts about developing “Sticky Statements.”
5. Gives a place to revisit. This is a bit like #2. As a teenager, I started taking sermon notes. Part of it was to stay awake (it’s okay to admit). The other side was to re-read and retain. More often than not, the bulletin cover was accidentally lost, thrown away, or left in my pocket and gone through the wash. Encouraging posting/tweeting gives an easily accessible place to revisit over and over to get that one or two main points of a message. (Unless you’re like my wife and post EVERYTHING from a message.) Writing them “on the doorposts of your house and on your gates” was a place to revisit over and over.
6. Social-media, like it or not, is what our younger generations use to communicate to each other. Part of me says, I’d rather have them in church tweeting and listening than sitting at home tweeting and not here. The other side says, give them something to tweet about. I give my kids permission to tweet during the service. 90% of the time it’s about the message. The other 10% is this:
Deuteronomy 6:7 says, “You shall teach them diligently to your children, and shall talk of them when you sit in your house, and when you walk by the way, and when you lie down, and when you rise.” To a generation who, literally, tweets/posts while they sit in the house, walk by the way, etc…why not give them something to tweet about? Even better, mom and dad, why not talk with them about what they tweet after the service. Take the message to the next step with them.
7. Make it fun and interactive. Some people make church anything but fun. We’ve challenged people to do selfies during congregational greeting, pictures of their families sitting in the same row, and groupies of the people who sit around them. It’s fun. But behind the fun is getting people to engage with others around them. I’ll Instagram from the front row shots of missionaries speaking or videos of the worship team. People will post weird things I say. It keeps it light and fun and, again, more engaging for people.
8. Keeps the conversation going. When you encourage people to post, where do their posts go? On the Facebook wall and Twitter feed (not to forget Instagram and Snapchat). I see it every Sunday. People from the congregation start interacting with each other on the fun and the serious stuff. Even better, people who do not attend church start engaging in the points. Think about it: a 40 minute (ish) message goes on longer (and perhaps more affective) because of social-media and a pastor’s careful heart to make things “tweet-able.” Use hashtags to help meld together the posts and you’ve got yourself a social-media conversation that can go on all week. Again, the words “Hear, O Israel” in Deuteronomy 6:4 tells us that God wanted his instructions to reach everyone. Opening up the conversation that you began on Sunday to the entire social-media network world is a great (and free) way to reach people you will never see and/or interact with.
I’m a preacher who loves to preach. I’m also a preacher who always wants to be better at my craft. If God has given you any gift/ability, then you are called to be a steward of that gift. Sometimes being a steward is stepping back to take a new look at what you have (or what you are doing). Perhaps if worked hard to give better quality and less quantity mixed with more engagement, we’ll have better effectiveness with our craft to our communities and beyond. Don’t stop growing in this. Don’t stop learning. Don’t stop letting God stretch you in proclaiming the Gospel.
Preach the Word. Use words. Use tweets. Use pics.
Thanks for letting me ramble…