-Rev Melissa Fain-
Last year, I wrote this piece called The Age of Deborah. The point of the post was to show how diverse female ministers are today. A friend said it was tweetable. Therefore, I tweeted the meditation with the hashtag, #AgeofDeborah. I asked questions and asked people to tweet them back using the hashtag.
Wow did that tank!
There are a couple of reasons. First of all, I have fallen more into female ministry being like Jeremiah: Exiled from our temple. The other reason plagues many ministers: I didn't get Twitter even one year ago, and if I had, I might have done things differently.
Twitter: The Land of Empty Actions
Churches who have a twitter handle, often have a carbon copy of their Facebook Page. That's really why I started with Facebook last week. Because the collective church doesn't understand the dynamics of these social media platforms, every area of their online presence looks the same. If that's your church, you're doing it wrong.
Twitter is a place to sell a brand. Hashtags and retweets are the newest generation's version of wearing brand t-shirts. Just like wearing a Nirvana t-shirt didn't really make one part of the band (In some cases, didn't even mean the person actually listened to any of the music), retweets and hashtags doesn't mean anyone is going to take any sort of real action towards what they are retweeting.
For example: #BringBackOurGirls did not bring back the girls. What it did do was build Michelle Obama's brand as someone who cares about global issues. This is where Twitter fails. Many think if they just retweet or use the correct hashtag then that is enough. (Perhaps they know it's not enough, but it's not much different than reality. Retweeting is the only action they end up taking to enact positive change.) Retweeting might give you a 1:250000 chance of winning that epic trip to Maui, but it won't exact the change you want to see in the world.
But here's where what I just condemned is also good. It's a free place to create an amazing brand. I know churches seem to get very squirmy when it comes to the brand subject. Like it or not, every institution is constantly creating and recreating their brand. If your church is not doing it actively, than it's implicitly doing it.. Implicit brand creation is scary territory. Churches that don't care about their brand can look cold and unfeeling. It can accidentally sell something dangerous, to an already skeptical public.
Being honest with a church's brand means you can be the positive change, and you can grow your brand through hashtags and retweets to do it.
Fig Tree and Twitter
If I were to sum up Fig Tree in a single tweet, what would I say? If you find yourself here time and time again, try to answer this for yourself before you choose to continue reading.
Fig Tree is about fixing relationship in a broken world.
Hopefully, if you came up with your own, your statement could fall within or near what I just wrote. Keeping this in mind, check out Fig Tree's twitter feed. Yes, the meditations are shared, but so is relationship. Jumping on trending hashtags is about understanding the brand. We don't have a brand that easily trends, so using other brands to highlight our own is the best way to go.
Yes, I deeply support and believe the #metoo and #churchtoo movement, but I also know sharing those hashtags are not really about exacting change. Only actual change changes things. I do know it adds to Fig Tree's brand, and therefore I share it for that purpose. It let's the unknown person know we are about restoration in the church.
I'm also relational through the Twitter handle. This was a difficult place for me to reach. I couldn't imagine actually conversing with people through Twitter. I'm Reverend Melissa. Fig Tree is something else. Right? Wrong! When I distanced myself from the tweets it held others away as well. The minister, IMHO (in my humble opinion). is the doorway to the church. The minister chooses whether tweets are a snapshot from a distance, or a voyage into the depths of Christ's Church. Twitter started working when I stopped being distant, and started being present.