To tweet or not to tweet during worship service: That is the question

Jan 2010    

DR ANTHONY GOH, OUR CONTRIBUTOR, wrote in the November 2009 issue of this newsletter that “it would be a sad day if the ‘Let’s greet each other in the love of the Lord’ becomes ‘Let’s tweet your neighbour.’ ”

Expressing his views that twittering has no place in worship, he wrote: “Let us leave the twittering till after the service, and lay ourselves down completely to worship the Lord.”

His article has sparked off interest from several readers who spoke to Methodist Message or wrote in to give their views.

Mr Jonathan Huang, a member of Wesley Methodist Church, argues that that “there is a case for twittering in worship, especially in the context of today’s Methodist youth”.

He wrote in to say that “Twitter is a social phenomenon that is quickly gaining popularity amongst today’s youth, including Methodists”, and he believes that “Twitter is one of the many social media tools that Methodist youth leaders should evaluate as a means of being more effective in engaging young people, and fostering a sense of community in our Methodist churches”.

Describing himself as a “technophile and very much a fan of Twitter”, he wrote: “Twitter is a tool. Like any tool, Twitter is not inherently good or bad – it depends on how you use it. It is a means of communication which allows information to be passed from a sender to a receiver. It is like a microphone hooked up to a sound system which the pastor can use to communicate with the congregation.”

He then gave examples of how Twitter can be used well in a service – for instance, to communicate biblical truths such as “He makes us rise on wings like eagles” besides talking about one’s own feelings like how “the drummer is really cute today”; to take notes, just as some people take notes on their PDA during a sermon; and to make prayer requests.

Mr Anthony Lam, a member of Bedok Methodist Church, thinks that twittering in worship would be more distracting and also less edifying.

Mr Lam, who tweets on his iPhone, wrote: “A wrong tweet or a mis-fingering or mis-spelling will cause misinterpretation, misconception and much distraction. It just takes one or two such tweets to cause the whole gathering of His people to lose focus.

“Twittering in worship? No go for me.” Ms Tan Soh Hong from Charis Methodist Church feels that worship is God-centred, and “we should give all our attention to God and be in His presence”.

A young adult from Grace Methodist Church, Mr Vincent Ha, said one should focus on God while attending a church service.

The 25-year-old creative media professional added that he was not sure how twittering during worship could be of help or benefit to anyone. “Just as you don’t send an SMS to another person while the service is going on, you should also not twitter in church.”

Mr Keith Tan of Faith Methodist Church, wrote: “Often, the church finds itself more and more reliant on technology as tools to deliver a service to ever increasing congregations.

“But, as in many churches around the world, services, I notice, are starting to become the equivalent of TV variety shows. That’s not to say God doesn’t use these as tools to accomplish His purpose, but in our haste to keep up, we sometimes forget to check ourselves at how much ‘technology culture’ is creeping in.”

Dr Anthony Goh Soon Whatt (no relation to the writer) wrote: “As in any form of expression – writing, speaking, singing, blogging or Twittering – freedom comes with responsibility. The problem I see here is that it is difficult for a worship leader to ‘manage the flow’, like a magazine editor or show director could.”

Added the Kampong Kapor Methodist Church member: “Not that I’m against Spirit-led free worship, but I’m not in favour of free-for-all random expression without responsible participation.”

Ms Ailene Chou, 21, from Living Waters Methodist Church, wrote: “As is true of all kinds of technology, Twitter can be used and abused. Perhaps the problem is more in our attitudes to worship rather than the tools we use in corporate worship. “The Bible tells us to worship with

psalms, hymns and spiritual songs (Eph 5:19), to encourage each other, and to prophesy to each other in proportion to the gifts and faith God has given. In this sense, the Twitter phenomenon may not be far off. Properly appropriated, this can be a means of corporate edification in the same way that biblical churches prophesy, exhort and encourage in a corporate setting as they are prompted by the Holy Spirit.

“The question then is this: why do we need Twitter to do this when this is something that should be present in our churches anyway? Why introduce a mechanism that tends towards the self-indulgent rather than promoting spirit-prompted speech in the corporate setting?” Ms Chou added: “The writer writes that ‘there is a difference between concentrating on communion with God and commenting on communion with God.’ The question we must ask is whether Twitter leads to a deepening of communion with God in accordance with the scripture (Col 3:16 tells us that it is as the Word of God dwells richly within us that we are able to teach and admonish each other).

“As Jesus has so often told those who came to Him with questions in the scripture – it is the heart that matters, and it is our response to revealed truth in following Jesus, rather than the things that we do. Before we blindly follow every new technological development, it is first our hearts which we must examine in light of scripture.”

Services for the Hokkien-speaking

DO YOU WANT to reach out to your Hokkien-speaking parents, relatives or friends?

Seize the opportunity by inviting them to the Hokkien Gospel Sundays organised by Paya Lebar Chinese Methodist Church. All the services will be held at its Level 4 sanctuary at 299 Upper Paya Lebar Road, and they begin at 10 am.

The speaker for the first service, to be held on Jan 31, will be the Rev Oh Beng Kee, Chairman of Celebrate Christmas in Singapore (CCIS).

For more enquiries, please contact tel: 6286-7243.


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