John Calvin published 22 volumes of commentaries on the Bible, and Martin Lloyd-Jones published 9 volumes on Romans alone. What if you could remove all of the non-essential language, antiquated stories, and strip all of that knowledge down to some bite-sized, transportable truths? There is certainly room for argument against such condensation of historic works, but we have to realize that we live in a society inundated with more information in a day than Calvin consumed in a year.
In other words, the ability to be succinct and concise is worth gold when communicating truth in today’s culture. And Twitter helps. The ability to write volumes of words is impressive but possibly not as impressive as the ability to take a deep and complex theological truth or spiritual application and package it in 140 characters or less.
So Twitter might be looked down upon by plenty of the academic leaders of our age, but men who spent long ours preaching, like John Piper and Rick Warren have utilized the power of Twitter to extend their teaching platforms to an entirely new audience in the techno-centric space of Twitter.
Though I’m sure this idea will stir plenty of debate, I want to argue that Twitter can be a powerful tool for improving your preaching, teaching, and public speaking. Why?
Twitter Forces Us to Concentrate Our Message
If you take all the water out of fresh-squeezed orange juice, you wind up with concentrate, a far more potent solution. Twitter causes us to remove unnecessary words and reduce a message to its bare minimum. Obviously, this can create the problem of lacking context and sub-structure, but it also forces us to consider the reader. In fact, if we don’t consider the reader, we can get in serious trouble. So we have to ask such questions as…
- How will this be understood with no surrounding context?
- How will this reflect on my own values and beliefs?
- How could these words be misapplied by a simple misunderstanding?
- Is this valuable enough to be shared in the first place?
Twitter Is a Powerful Collaboration Tool
Can’t find the answer to a question? Ask it on Twitter and you’ll often wind up with a variety of opinions and perspectives. You can use Twitter to crowdsource the refining of ideas. Obviously, you shouldn’t rely on the crowd to prepare messages for you, but by all means, allow the crowd to help you brainstorm, refine, and pare down your message to its essential core.
Twitter Allows for Immediate Feedback
How will this idea sound on Sunday? How will people react? Throw it out to the Twittersphere and you’ll see whether it sticks or bounces back to hurt you. The feedback can be painful but helpful.
Twitter Is a Tremendous Real Time Research Tool
I doubt you’ll ever use Twitter for exegetical work, but if you’re attempting to gauge culture’s understanding of a concept, measure a trend, or find a relevant application, Twitter can prove to be a powerful culture-search mechanism.
Twitter Introduces Us to Better Communicators than Ourselves
Twitter is not about how you had your eggs prepared this morning. It’s about content, and it provides a lifeline back to sources of learning and inspiration. I’ve discovered numerous great communicators and have allowed them to passively mentor me all by hopping from one Twitter relationship to another.
Twitter Expands Our Influence
That is to say, our audience grows as we forge new relationships across social platforms. If you don’t see the potential of Twitter for connectivity, you haven’t hung around long enough to test it out. You’ll ultimately discover new listeners and readers as you build bridges with people you never would have known otherwise.
Twitter Extends the Life of Your Message
We often feel, at the end of a message, that we spent many hours preparing for a few moments of communication only to see the remains of that message tossed onto the scrap heap or filed away for posterity’s sake alone. But with Twitter, you have a great platform to scatter the sound bites from a message for a long time to come.
You can write Twitter off, and you will probably survive. I would not argue that it’s an essential tool for preaching, teaching, and speaking. I would urge you, however, not to write off its potential as a research, collaboration, publicity, and even skill-honing tool.