The Problem with Twitter and being clever


The problem with Twitter is you only have 140-characters to make your point.  The example above has been re-tweeted about a million times in the past two days, and frankly, I find it a little annoying.

Okay, so Rick Warren is a megachurch guru, no doubt.  Warren has over 65,000 Twitter followers — I have less than 2,000.  But the problem here is I think Warren is trying to be clever (who doesn’t occasionally?), but is sending a lot of mixed signals.  Here’s what I mean:

  • Being a small church is nothing to be ashamed of. Okay, right there is the first problem.  The implication about small churches, of course, is that they are something to be ashamed of.  If not, why would we  need to be reassured that they’re not?  I’m a small-church pastor, and a small-church advocate, and frankly, we don’t need megachurch pastors as apologists for the churches we lead.
  • Being a small-minded church is disobedience to Jesus’ Great Commission.  This struck me two ways — first, small-minded gets connected to small church.  Not the same, but a clever bridge to make his point.  But in making that point apparently Warren is challenging small churches to not be small-minded.  Whatever that is.  As though small-mindedness leads to small numbers in church.  Does anyone really think that megachurches are small-minded?  Of course not because everything they do is big — buildings, parking lots, staff, programs, and so on.  They’re megachurches and by definition are de facto not small-minded.  Second, why is small-mindedness disobedience to the Great Commission?  Why isn’t it poor stewardship, or failure to love, or  bad marketing, or a host of other inadequacies?

Okay, I’ll stop before I get 50 comments telling me to lighten up.  My point is this — aphorisms can be clever, but they’re also simplistic and shallow.  I personally believe Rick Warren is a good guy, so this is nothing personal.  And, he takes his share of hits for everything from gay marriage to his recent appeal for funds.  But please, Rick, if you’re trying to pay small churches a compliment, don’t be so clever in the future.  Thanks.

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4 Comments

  1. Well done bro – I love it. As someone that spent all of my childhood – high school years in a small church, I was never ashamed of it, nor was anyone who attended. We loved everyone in our community, and gladly welcomed others. We appreciated other large churches in our area and the great ministries they had (even how they would welcome us to programs that we could not provide for ourselves) , but were content with the ministry that we were called to in Birmingham.

  2. The point that I feel Rick made, which you have seemed to have missed, is that many small churches feel that they are not “big” enough (i.e., resources, people, opportunity, etc.) to engage in God’s global mission beyond praying and giving – albeit these are VERY important. Consequently, the Great Commission has been outsourced to the “professionals” and small churches become small-minded by shrinking their sphere of influence.

    I pastor a small church(es). I recently went on a vision trip to Western Europe with several other pastors in order to discover how we could partner with what God is already doing. During one conversation with a well-meaning pastor of a mid-sized church, he told me that “A church of 30 people could not do global missions.” WHAT?

    Why not stay small with some intentionality? We have purposed to stay small – 20-30 in each self-perpetuating, self-propagating, semi-autonomous congregation. For us, smaller bodies of people gathering together makes more sense. These missional communities allow for a more intimate community, contextualization, greater volunteering, and a wider presence throughout the city and the world as these churches who understand that the Great Commission was given to the church start churches who understand that the Great Commission was given to the church.

    So, thanks Rick for the encouragement for small churches to not be small minded.

  3. … and this is why I refuse to Twitter.

    I think he was trying to make a contrast, but it doesn’t really work. Rather, it comes across as condescending.

  4. Chuck, I concur with your comments.
    I have a friend, a New Yorker, who attends
    a megachurch. He’s concerned for me because I
    moved away from Chicago and now attend a small
    church of 200. His feeling is that because
    it’s small and away from the big city,
    the church’s thinking will be “provincial”.

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