Thursday, June 20, 2013

The Twitter Assembly

Every four years or so (there's been a few fives in there and may be again) my tribe, the Church of the Nazarene, gets together for a General Assembly.  Featuring delegates from more than a hundred countries and who knows how many languages, with 20,000 or more attendees, it's one of the larger religious conferences in the country (if not the world).

For just the second time since I was old enough to navigate a major US city by myself, I'm not there in person. I'm quite sad about it. The older I get the more I recognize that what happens at these big events has little or nothing to do with the actual life and ministry of my neighborhood. At the same time, I geek out for this kind of thing and I really, really enjoy seeing far-flung friends and family.

There's been a lot of talk about the cost of such an event (it's in eight figures, at least), but I realized tonight that gathering together to sing Amazing Grace in 40 different languages is probably worth all of it. It looks like the Kingdom and that is, essentially, what the gospel is all about.

Don't cry too much for me, though. This time around, it's much easier to participate from afar. Through Facebook and Twitter I've been able to keep up with the happenings and all of the worship services and business meetings will be streamed live.

One interesting thing, though, is the impact of Twitter on an organization the size, scope and age of the Church of the Nazarene. Institutions are notoriously image conscious and religious institutions even more so. Our tribe has gone a long way towards openness and accountability, but we still have a painfully long way to go.

Twitter is going to help us. Not only do most of the leadership tweet (or have someone tweeting for them), which makes them more accessible, but Twitter has a way of making us more accountable. No more saying one thing to one audience and something else to another. This is, no doubt, a good thing.

It will be a little uncomfortable for us Nazarenes who are used to keeping things nice and friendly and sometimes superficial. But it will be good for us in the long run.

I'm looking forward to a great week of General Assembly - from the comfort of my living room!

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