Saturday, January 25, 2014

Twitter, Ministry & the Triple E Theory

Last week I received a note from an old friend asking me how in the world I had built up over 2,400 followers on Twitter. I had to admit I really hadn't thought about it, it had just happened. I began several years ago hoping I might someday reach 50 followers, so it certainly wasn't because of some master plan. I'm not famous. There is nothing of particular interest about me, unless you count the mistakes I've made or my love for Jesus. So why do I have so many followers? More importantly, why have I made so many real friends through Twitter? The more I thought about it, the more I began to see that the things that made me effective over 28 years as a youth pastor are the same things that have made me at somewhat interesting on Twitter. I'm talking about a Triple E Ministry- and no, it has nothing to do with shoe or bra sizes!  :) So here are my 3 Es...

* Engagement - If you have read this blog at all then you know I feel that relationships are at the heart of every ministry. Every relationship has to begin somewhere, and that's where engagement comes in to play. As a youth pastor I had to be willing to risk rejection by putting myself in situations where I would engage the friends of the students I worked with. Your sphere of influence only grows when you risk meeting new people. Whether it was eating lunch at school, hanging out at ballgames, or simply greeting them when they visited youth group, it was important that I initiate the conversation. Sometimes they thought I was weird. Sometimes they didn't really respond. But more often than not they were excited to have someone take an interest in them. And often the great icebreaker is HUMOR. Everyone loves to laugh. Twitter is no different. Making random or comical responses to people who have just followed you or who follow your friends is the initial engagement that can lead to friendships. Some people will never respond. Others will find you interesting and retweet or favorite your words, which gives you an opportunity to engage even more new people. But the key in both ministry and tweeting is to TAKE those opportunities. 
* Enthusiasm - When I worked at Springfield Friends Meeting in late 80s and early 90s, I once had a parent say to another parent who was preparing to help us chaperon a trip, "Good luck keeping up with Carl!" When I was hired at FUMC-Kissimmee in 1994, some of the youth were concerned that because of my age and my large physical stature that I would not be able to keep with them. A few weeks later they confessed that concern to me and begged for mercy, because I was running them ragged! I have always been a high energy person when it comes to relationships, and that enthusiasm has served me well in drawing people in. Whether it is ministry, Twitter or life in general, I believe the rule remains the same- the more energy you put into relationships, the more you get back. Want to know if you are showing enthusiasm to the people you encounter? Here's a simple test: Are you responding to everything you hear from them? Every text, phone message, e-mail,  tweet and Facebook status or comment that is directed towards you deserves a response. This lets people know that they matter to you. If you're attitude is "ho-hum," theirs will be too. That's why I often rage against sameness, tameness and lameness in student ministry. Get excited! In the minds of many people, effort = caring.
* Encouragement - People- all people- need encouragement. If you become known as a person who is always willing to offer words of support, comfort and encouragement, then you will never be at a loss for friends who want to be around you. I once had a group of fellow youth pastors from our community tell me that a number of the students they worked with had visited my group and preferred our youth group to theirs- and they didn't understand why. I knew why. When kids came to any of our programs at any of the churches I served, we learned their names, we talked to them, and we made them feel special. When I would visit with students on their turf (home, school, hangouts) their first question to me was usually, "Why are you here?"  When I would answer, "To see you" there was disbelief in their eyes. They felt loved and encouraged. Do you know how rarely that happens to people in this world? It's the same on Twitter. When people cry out in pain or frustration, or when they share a joy- RESPOND! Let them know they are heard and cared for, even if all you say is "I'm thinking about you and praying for you."  The connection between you will be instantaneous and it will be strong.

I do need to confess something- the 3 Es come easily to me. Encouragement is one of my strongest spiritual gifts, and I love using it. Some of you will have to work really hard at this and step outside of your comfort zones. But you need to do it. Not because it might get you a few more Twitter followers, but because relationships are at the crux of serving Jesus. So get out there in the real world and the digital one and engage people with enthusiasm. Encourage them. Be the light in this world that Jesus calls us to be. Oh- and if you don't already, follow me on Twitter.  I'd love to get to know you and share life's journey!

Because of Jesus,


  1. I can truly attest that you my friend are a great encouragement. Keep up the great work.

    1. Thanks so much my brother. And ditto.


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