A Brief Word About Recent Evangelical Conduct on Twitter

I tweeted earlier tonight that I desperately want to write, but I don’t have anything to write about.

So, I made a cup of half-caff coffee, opened this blog post, and started writing about nothing in particular.

I deleted half of it. I changed the topic no fewer than five times. I rambled for about 1000 words and decided to cut it down.

And here we are.

This is pretty raw. Just a warning.


I have said this to some in the past, and I mean it more than ever: if my job did not require me to be knowledgeable about social media, I would be off of it entirely. Or, at the very least, I would have an anonymous Twitter account to follow the various sports, video game, and humor accounts I like to follow.

I must confess that I am becoming more discouraged with the ways evangelicals use Twitter every single day I am on the platform.

I’m focusing on Twitter specifically because it is hard to find the global, trans-cultural communication you find on Twitter on any other social media platform. Facebook has engineered itself to encourage conversations around content with friends. Instagram is for talking about whatever pictures people have posted. Twitter is where normal people, famous people, and everyone in between come to talk, complain, and argue (and mostly the last two).

The Twitter conduct I have seen lately, among evangelicals specifically because that’s most of who I am watching on Twitter, has been discouraging.

I’m not the only one, and to be fair, people are feeling this way outside of the evangelical sub-culture.

https://twitter.com/duregger/status/1013078652911792129

I’m not saying I’m exempt. I know that I have contributed to the negativity of evangelical Twitter in my time on the platform. Without a doubt.

Lately, I post very little beyond links to what I’m writing or random thoughts that come to my head.

You know what most of evangelical Twitter has become, at least from my little perch?

A place for all the cool, “woke” people to dunk on the “ignorant” people.

“Please shower me with likes as I quote-tweet and shame this ignorant person who replied to my very woke tweet.”

Much, if not most, of the time, I am 100% in agreement with whatever it is the cool, woke person said and am simultaneously disgusted with the way in which he or she shamed the other person.

What I’m seeing on Twitter from many of my evangelical brothers and sisters is straight-up bullying.

Bullying.

A bully is “a person who uses strength or power to harm or intimidate those who are weaker.”

Twitter has become a place for evangelicals to bully other people—often other evangelicals.

Right now, you’re probably thinking either, “Bro where you been? It’s been like this for years!” or you’re thinking, “Well he’s clearly not on our side.”

No one has dunked on me (yet). No one has subtweeted me to my knowledge. I know this practice isn’t new.

It just seems to me that it has become more culturally acceptable for evangelicals to bully other people on Twitter.

Why? I think the answer is simple: hatred of President Donald Trump.

Woke evangelicals don’t like President Trump. And, whether they agree with it or not, whether they notice it or not, they believe his actions give them license to treat others on Twitter and other social media platforms with disrespect in order to communicate the misalignment of his agendas with the gospel.

The cool, woke evangelicals who bully others on Twitter through their choir-preaching quote-tweets or their slick subtweets believe that, in order to adequately communicate that the President’s policies do not align with the gospel, they have been given permission to dunk on others on Twitter.

I think this is wrong, and I’ve been silently watching it unfold for so long I finally decided to write about it.

What’s worse is that the vast majority of Americans (and thereby, evangelicals) are not on Twitter. So, the cool-kid, woke evangelicals express their frustrations into the Twittersphere to the tune of retweets and likes with little pushback because the average evangelical without a seminary degree who disagrees with them isn’t on Twitter, or at least isn’t verified.

And after the ways many average evangelicals have been treated when expressing dissent toward a cool, woke evangelical on Twitter, I can’t imagine many want to engage any more even if they have sincere disagreements.

God is not glorified when you dunk on someone who disagrees with you on Twitter.

Subtweets are passive aggressive and affirm the worst gossip-related stereotypes about the church.

Your shaming of someone on Twitter isn’t like Christ flipping the tables in the temple.

It’s like the pharisee who thanks God he isn’t like those other people.

“The Pharisee was standing and praying like this about himself: ‘God, I thank you that I’m not like other people—greedy, unrighteous, adulterers, or even like this tax collector.'” (Luke 18:11)

Please stop.

Should Twitter Ban President Trump?

One of the many unique attributes of Donald Trump’s presidency is his prolific use of Twitter. President Obama used Twitter, but not in the same ways President Trump is using the platform.

President Trump’s Tweets on Trial

In the last week or so, there has been even more attention directed at President Trump’s use of Twitter than normal, primarily because of what he is tweeting about North Korea and the effects his tweets could have on geopolitical relationships.

Here are a couple about North Korea from the last month or so:

Many Twitter users have noted that these tweets technically violate Twitter’s Terms of Service. How? Twitter’s Terms of Service forbid using the platform to make violent threats, directly or indirectly. Any account that does this may be shut down.

President Trump’s tweets have been interpreted as threats by many including North Korea. Really, anyone with common sense would interpret these tweets as threats, however realistic or unrealistic these threats may be.

So, how did Twitter respond?

Twitter’s Response

This is how Twitter responded on Monday (see full thread):

So, basically, Twitter is not going to ban President Trump from Twitter, despite him breaking the rules, because his tweets are “newsworthy.”

To take this to its logical, unrealistic end, President Trump could theoretically launch a nuclear World War III on Twitter and not be banned from the platform.

A humorous baseball account I followed tweeted this, as Twitter routinely struggles in its quarterly earnings reports:

President Trump being an exception to Twitter rules has upset Twitter users and people in general. So then here’s the question:

Should Twitter Ban President Trump?

No. Twitter shouldn’t ban President Trump from Twitter. They should change their Terms of Service to reflect the unwritten reasons they have allowed him to stay on the platform, which is exactly what they said they’re doing.

Further, and this is going to be an unpopular opinion, I don’t think even normal users should be banned from Twitter for making threats toward other people. I have written about this topic on this blog before.

Obviously, I don’t think making threats on Twitter is good, I just think banning everyone who makes threats on Twitter is an impossible expectation. I think people who make threats should be able to use Twitter because policing every threat on a platform like Twitter is unrealistic and potentially does more harm than good, especially when AI and algorithms get involved (just ask Facebook about that).

The reality is that hundreds of thousands of Twitter accounts are making threats to other Twitter accounts on the platform every single day. In one instance, it may be a friend jokingly threatening to punch another friend in the face if he doesn’t pay him back for the lunch he bought for him. In another instance it may be a head of state threatening nuclear war with another head of state.

Neither user should be banned, I believe, for a number of reasons. The first of which is that the user could just create a new Twitter account with new information and continue making threats as he or she so pleases, so the banning wasn’t really effective anyway.

Another reason is that, if President Trump was banned from Twitter, Twitter would be compelled by its users to go through and ban every single user who has ever made threats to others on the platform, which would be an impossible task.

President Trump and celebrities like him should not be protected from being banned for violating Twitter’s Terms of Service, and nor should President Trump or celebrities like him be more likely to be banned than the average Twitter user for violating the Terms.

Either you ban every single person, famous or not, who breaks the Terms, or you don’t ban any of them. I think the second option is more realistic and manageable than the first.

Further, from a business perspective, Twitter would be silly to ban President Trump from their platform because he has brought more attention to the platform than anything else in its history.

Twitter has their reasons for not banning President Trump. Whatever they actually are, I think they are doing the right thing by letting him stay. If they decided to ban him, they’ve be opening up a Pandora’s box of subsequent actions they would be compelled, and I believe unable, to take.

I’m curious what you think. This is just my opinion. I could be convinced otherwise.

3 Ways Churches Can Use Facebook Well

My primary work is helping authors with their social media, but as anyone who works in social media will tell you, when you work in social media, you get questions from all kinds of people.

One of the groups that asks me questions most often is local churches. Church leaders often have a dozen good, relevant questions about social media, but one of the most common is simple this: “How should I use Facebook?”

To many (especially young people), that may seem like a simple question. But for church leaders who spend the majority of their days trying to counsel hurting people and prepare for weekly church events, Facebook strategy is one of their least concerns.

Here are three basic ways I think churches can cut through the complexity and use Facebook well:

1. Share gospel content.

Anyone who spends any amount of time on social media can attest: social media can be a dark place more often than not.

For many Christians, this has made them leave social media platforms altogether—they simply cannot justify willingly coexisting with such darkness. I get that.

At the same time, I think the common darkness of social media creates an even stronger case for Christians to be involved in these online spaces.

One of the best ways a church can use its Facebook presence is to share encouraging, gospel content such as blog posts, Scripture, or sermon videos. This lets the church shine the light of the gospel in the darkness of social media conversations.

2. Create gospel conversations.

When churches share gospel content on Facebook, gospel conversations often result. Whether in the comment sections, privately via private messages, or offline, churches can create gospel conversations with a healthy Facebook presence.

If you’re unsure about what to post on your church’s Facebook page, just post Scripture or ask people for prayer requests. Know that Facebook’s algorithm favors videos and images, so the more of those you post, the better. But, creating gospel conversations usually starts with sharing gospel content.

Along these same lines, be sure to avoid unnecessarily controversial content. Yes, the gospel is going to be offensive to some people no matter what, and you’ll have to deal with conflict of that kind at some point. But church Facebook pages need not be a battleground for political or cultural skirmishes. This often does more harm than good.

3. Buy Facebook ads.

Stop.

Breathe.

You may be thinking, “The church doesn’t need to do any marketing! The gospel is attractive enough itself!” Ok. I understand. But hear me out.

If you’re spending hundreds of dollars on paper flyers to post a coffee shops or post cards to put in mailboxes, I would contend that your money would be better spent on purchasing Facebook ads.

When used correctly, Facebook ads allow your church to reach people in your communities more effectively than paper flyers or post cards, and with less hassle.

Really, buying a Facebook ad really just amounts to you promoting a piece of content on Facebook so that it can be seen by more people in your community that use Facebook and may be interested in checking out your church.

But, buying Facebook ads and figuring out the best audience to which you should boost your content can be overwhelming if you don’t know what you’re doing.

A while back, I announced that I’m launching a new service through LifeWay called LifeWay Social. The purpose of LifeWay Social is to help Christian leaders, including local church leaders, better use social media to serve other people.

Next week, the LifeWay Social site will launch. I’m super excited.

If you want to stay aware of the latest regarding LifeWay Social, join the email list here. I only email you once a week. I promise I won’t annoy you.