On Monday, May 18, Ben Martinez, pastor of Calvary Chapel Lubbock, 4218 Boston Ave., was up early.
By 6:52 a.m., he had finished his quiet time, listened to a Christian podcast, and was on his way to the gym. From approximately noon to 1 p.m., he ate lunch at Mi Tierra with someone named Ricky and took a picture of Ricky with his cell phone. From 3:11 p.m. to 3:19 p.m. he listened to a version of "I Surrender All" on the Internet. At 5 p.m. he headed back to the gym, planning to go to Starbucks afterward. He finished his workout by 7:27 p.m.
It was a busy day.
And if you were one of the currently 98 people who follow him on Twitter, you'd know all about it.
Twitter, an internet microblogging service that allows users to "tweet" their opinions, whereabouts, and plans in abbreviated real-time, is the newest kid on the social networking block.
Friends are made. Lives are followed.
Its appeal is rooted in its haiku-esque functionality, which restricts individual posts to 140 characters.
Church leaders across the country have quickly caught on and more and more are harnessing Twitter's power, as well as that of other sites like Facebook, for the Kingdom of God.
Lubbock pastors are no exception. Some use for it fellowship, some for outreach.
Martinez is one of several local pastors who utilizes the service to foster a sense of community within his congregation and keep church members instantly in the loop, not only regarding church happenings, but their personal lives as well.
"It's a good way to keep our congregation updated on prayer requests or events in the church," he says. "Also people are really just interested in people's lives. Like, 'oh, what's the pastor doing? What's he studying?' "
But most importantly, says Martinez, who regularly cites Bible verses in his tweets, "it's a means to preach the Gospel. A means to encourage and exhort people."
On Good Friday, members of New York's Wall Street Trinity Church twittered the details of Christ's final hours on earth with usernames like @JosephArimithea, @pontius_Pilate, and @_JesusChrist.
A May issue of "Time" magazine reported on tech-savvy churches that incorporated Twitter into their services. They encouraged members to twitter their thoughts on the sermon - which are instantly relayed to church video screens - as a running interactive commentary. Offering a digital spin on the idea that nothing done for God is in vain, the magazine quoted one pastor as saying, "If God leads you to continue (Twitter) as a form of worship, by all means do it."
At that, Martinez chuckles.
"I did hear of some churches that will do that, where you can tweet or text your questions while the pastor is actually preaching," he said. "We're not at that point ... we're just doing it as a means of staying connected in this day and age."
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