Wrecking Ball

Ahh, Twitter. I saw your ugly side today. It does not flatter you.

A prominent worship leader was tweeting today about health care reform. To be honest, I'm super conflicted on that issue to begin with. My wife sure needs health insurance, as do many people in our country. As of now, affording it on our own is pretty much completely out of the question given the amount of coverage she needs for drugs and such. Were she not going to school, we wouldn't be able to afford it at all. On the other hand, I am starting to get a bit weary of the amount of money the government is spending. I'm a bit of a saver myself, and it's starting to freak me out.

But that's not the point.

I asked a question of said worship leader that I ask a lot of people I know and respect. It was not meant as any kind of dis, or snarky attack. Just simply a question I challenge many of us with:

Should Church leaders be involved in political debate and discourse?

I honestly think it's a fair question. If God has placed me in a situation where people are looking up to me, and He has asked me to lead them closer to him either via Youth Ministry or Worship Leading or what have you, is it appropriate to attempt to sway people towards one particular political leaning or another? On the whole in my ministry experience, I've been leaning towards no. Never mind the idea of being one of those postmoderns who doesn't think there's such a thing as left and right divisions any more, is it appropriate to use my influence toward that end?

Of course Christians have a role in politics. Of course we should speak our minds when it comes to how this country we find ourselves in is run. Of course it's only natural to try to make people see the world the way you see it. All I'm asking is should Church leaders play a different role than that of everyone else?

Now, try to fit that into 140 characters.

I did this afternoon.

It did not flatter me.

One of two things happened, or some sort of combination of both. Either I did an incredibly poor job of communicating that I was simply asking a question with no malicious intent whatsoever, or people were defending their positions a little too tightly. My twitter account was flooded with mentions and messages, some of which weren't exactly positive and encouraging. Without even thinking about it, I apparently started a fight on the fastest growing social networking sites out there.

If anyone bothers to research this event, you will note (as it should be noted here) that the worship leader in question actually handled himself really well, and in fact we had a pretty solid e-mail conversation that followed my question. He gets mad props in all of this for engaging in a discussion rather than a spitball contest.

It should also go without saying that if my tweets today somehow offended people or upset them or made them think I was some sort of jerk, I apologize. I think if you read the blog or better yet asked some people who knew me, you would realize that none of these adjectives apply to me. I become absolutely terrified when people don't think highly of me, and so I did not gain your approval today, I am truly sorry.

I learned some things today that I think are worth sharing:

  • Twitter is dangerous. 140 characters is nowhere near enough to actually make a point, though it is certainly enough to lose your point entirely. I have preached again and again and again that social networking sites are not a good place for high-minded debate, and today I refused to listen to my own advice.
  • I am entirely too dependent upon the opinions of others. Like I said, I was a wreck today in the Giant Eagle because I just then noticed the hub-bub I had caused on twitter. I don't have a personal relationship with anyone from today's conversation, and yet I wanted to crawl in a cave and die if they didn't like me. The irony of course being that our dear worship leader in question has authored a song all about God's grace being sufficient in our lives, and while I will sing that song loudly and boldly in church, I did not in any way live it out today. Though perhaps the biggest and most dangerous thing I learned today was
  • Questions are like wrecking balls. This all came out of a question. There really wasn't any malicious intent at all behind the question, though understandably the question itself can shake things up a bit.
Questions make us uneasy. Questions make us unstable. If someone questions something we've stood on for a very long time, the ground beneath our feet is no longer to be trusted. And we become nervous wrecks, and we start eating ice cream to ease the pain until we develop an eating disorder (or at least that's what I've heard...)

But the truth is, some of our ground could use some re-examining. The best thing that could happen to us is for everything we stand for and believe in to be called into question, only to find out it was exactly as true as we thought it was in the first place. Or perhaps we'll come to some sort of understanding that the ideas or concepts we defend the most are some of the least important, and that our resources could be better used elsewhere. Ideally, if we're journeying with the right people, we'll even make a friend or two along the way.

So again, if I offended you today, as a brother in Christ I am truly and deeply sorry. However, I beg you to at least examine what you stand for. Ask yourself the question you wish no one would ask. Test, probe, deconstruct. If what you have now is left standing at the end, then more power to you. Perhaps we'll end up with something even more beautiful.

As for me, perhaps some slightly more shallow tweets.




Anonymous said...

you = awesome.