Having More Twitter Followers Might Be a Problem

Kyle Reed // @kylereed

A question I have been thinking about all day today is this:

If you are a pastor and have more twitter followers then church members is something wrong?

Is that statement True or False?

What do you think?


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Kyle Reed

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Kyle Reed is a connector looking to connect with others. A 20 Something that is blogging his way through life and looking to connect through community. Also a team member of the 8BIT Network and brand evangelist. Find me on twitter: @kylelreed, lets chat.
  • http://www.austinklee.com @austinklee

    Nah, its too easy to get a bunch of Twitter followers…much more difficult to get someone to leave their home for a couple of hours a week to learn about Jesus.

    Plus, a lot of followers just follow anyone and don’t interact.

    • http://thoughtsaboutnothing.com Kyle Reed

      True, I think the main thing I have been thinking about is this idea that pastors sometimes can interact more with twitter followers then people that actually attend the church, their flock (for a lack of a better term).

      That is really what I am wondering about.

    • http://godlysheep.com brett barner

      Yep, what Austin said. It’s a lot easier to get someone to follow you when all they have to do is click a button, but to get someone to donate their time, money, and efforts. That’s a real follower.

  • http://www.andydarnell.com Andy Darnell

    Ooh. How about pastors who worries more about when someone unfollows them on twitter or facebook than worries about someone who leaves the church?

    Or… what about the tech/media guy who has more following than the senior pastor? Is that bad?

    • http://thoughtsaboutnothing.com Kyle Reed

      I do not think that is bad that someone on staff has more followers then the pastor. More just the fact that one might engage more.

      That could also be a point as well, worrying about someone who unfollows you and the church.

    • http://bondchristian.com/ bondChristian

      That first one’s a good question, Andy… for anyone, not just pastors.

      -Marshall Jones Jr.

      P.S. Something’s wrong with your comment box here, Kyle… at least it is in Flock. The “Name (Required)” thing is under the field and the “Click here to cancel reply” is pushing the field out of alignment, if that makes any sense. Just a heads up.

      • http://thoughtsaboutnothing.com Kyle Reed

        thanks for the heads up. I will check it out. What is Flock?

  • http://www.taintedcanvas.com Jonathan Sigmon

    It’s a good question. I’ve thought about it before too. My church I serve at is about 300 each week, whereas I have 4X that many friends on the ole facebook. Many of my “followers” on twitter are people in the same vocation (worship leaders, people serving in youth ministry, etc.) and it serves as a way to share resources, ideas, encouragement, etc. I agree with @AustinKlee’s response too that it is much easier to get a follower on twitter than someone committed to the local church. Both are viable ways of drawing someone closer to God though.

    I think a balance of both online interaction and interaction with people from the local church is best. Then again, a balance for everyone’s interactions (online versus face to face) is probably something each person has to find.

    Good discussion question, I’m curious as to other people’s thoughts.

    • http://thoughtsaboutnothing.com Kyle Reed

      I think it will have some interesting responses.

      I think you are right, most ministers use twitter to connect with other leaders and share resources.

  • http://mrshields.com Adam Shields

    I think it depends on the church and the role of the pastor. I think it is a good question, but the pastor should never be only about the members of the church in my opinion. If a pastor is not at least communicating to the community then their reach is limited.

    I was a member of a church in Chicago. Because of its location it was never going to grow to more than 70 or 80 regular attenders (close to Univ of Chicago, 25-40% yearly turnover, etc.) But the church intentionally released the pastor to be a pastor of the community. He was on several local boards, served as pastor to local political and community leaders, etc. The main negative is that some of the church members thought that they didn’t need to participate in outreach because they hired their pastor to do it for them. But on the positive side, my pastor (if there was twitter when I was there) would have been on it and would have used it as a tool to minister to the community.

    Shaun King is another example that is using twitter to reach out. He has tons more twitter followers than church members. But has also raised around $1 million in cash and donations for Haiti relief and thousands of volunteers for the Atlanta flood last year.

    • http://thoughtsaboutnothing.com Kyle Reed

      As I read your response I was thinking about Shaun, great point.

      And I like that perspective, almost a way for pastors to reach out to more then just his local community.

      Just wondering if it is dangerous to focus more on that then on your congregation. I guess that is an obvious answer, but a discussion that I do not hear a lot of people talk about.

  • http://www.robdale.ca Rob

    I pastor The Bikers’ Church, which has about 100 members. Yet, I have 700+ friends on Facebook, and over 1,100 people following me on Twitter. Is it bad? Is it good?

    I know this: many of those who follow me on Facebook or Twitter have never come to our church. But they’re thinking about it. They follow me in an attempt to figure out if I’m genuine and if our church is a “real church.” I’ve had people show up at our church who say something like, “I’ve been following you for a few months, trying to decide if you guys are legit. That’s why I’ve decided to attend tonight.”

    At the same time, many of my twitter followers are people I connected with during a 25 day road trip through the U.S. They are unchurched bikers who I had the pleasure of hanging with at different places along my trip. Many now watch the video of our church service on a regular basis, and some have even suggested that they would love to see me come and start a bikers church in their location.

    So, while I still focus the majority of my time on the people who attend the church here, I recognize that I am able to use the reach of Twitter & Facebook to connect to others who need to hear the gospel and whom I would never have had the chance to meet outside of social media.

    • http://thoughtsaboutnothing.com Kyle Reed

      I love that example. Great way to leverage social media as well as influence.

      Sounds like you are focused on both communities, your local one and then your network (which would be bikers).

      Thanks for the thoughts.

    • http://philologus.wordpress.com/ JuliaKate

      love this response Rob… this is wonderful way to utilize Twitter & facebook or any other social media source.

  • http://manofdepravity.com Tyler

    Most of the time I think the amount of followers is just a number. Anyone can get a large following. I’d be more worried about the pastor who lives on twitter all day long. He should probably spend more time with his or her people.

    • http://mrshields.com Adam Shields

      I agree this is probably a better metric than the # of followers.

    • http://thoughtsaboutnothing.com Kyle Reed

      Or the professional conference pastor. The one that is always at conferences and on the web instead of with his community. Dangerous

  • http://acalledlife.blogspot.com/ Mindy

    Good question. I think I would say that this could possibly be a problem and here’s why:

    I believe on an Anne Jackson’s post, you mentioned one time that it’s hard to build a relationship in 120 characters or less. I’ve never forgotten that statement and have mulled this over time and again in regards to today’s level of social networking.

    Twitter isn’t about depth…it’s about what is currently going on. And while a pastor can certainly speak into people’s lives with a good quote or word of encouragement, he/she cannot build a relationship with the followers beyond a casual back-n-forth banter.

    If the pastor’s main ministry is on Twitter, then that is where I’d say there is a problem. I don’t believe one can shepherd a congregation that way. However, if the church ministry is the pastor’s main ministry and investment and Twitter is just a side thing, then I don’t really see it as a problem. The amount of Twitter followers is just a number. The most important thing is if the church itself is seeing healthy growth, both spiritually and relationally! When that happens, the amount of church attenders should grow as well!

    • http://thoughtsaboutnothing.com Kyle Reed

      Thats impressive you remember that from Annes blog.

      I think twitter is a great resource, but like you said, not the absolute and only way to do things. It shouldn’t be the only place you minister. Good point