For my case study, I chose to answer the question, “How do prominent Christian authors construct their tweets in order to effectively evangelize to their online Twitter audience?” In my findings, I realized that most Christian authors are effective in evangelizing through their tweets, however the ways in which they choose to construct their tweets vary from tweeting direct Bible verses to sharing encouraging interpretive messages to asking thought-provoking religious questions. Overall, however, each author positively influenced their Twitter followers in that most tweets had over 100 re-tweets.
In relation to the concept of networked religion—a term illustrated in Dr. Heidi Campbell’s article Understanding the Relationship Between Religion Online and Offline in a Networked Society—the tweeting of religious messages online by Christian authors portrays the trait of “convergent practice” (2011, p. 13). Convergent practice is a form of networked religion that “allows and even encourages users to draw from traditional and new sources simultaneously” (Campbell, 2011, p. 13). Furthermore, it takes “traditional religious ritual[s]” and “adapt[s] [them] to fit within the technological structures and constraints of the Internet” (Campbell, 2011, p. 13).
This concept is most definitely seen in the tweeting of religious messages online in that tweeters—in this case, Christian authors—must take messages from their books, as well as the Bible, and converge them to fit within the 140 characters allowed by Twitter. For instance, in Jerry Jenkins book entitled I Saul, Jenkins writes about the life of a man who rejected and persecuted Christ, encountered a transformation, and became one of Christ’s disciples. To demonstrate this message through a concise tweet, Jenkins writes “Murder. Forgiveness. Redemption. Grace. #ISaul” (see Image 1). This tweet captures the premise of Jenkins’ book while also delivering a message of grace and redemption given through Christ. Jenkins takes the message portrayed through a traditional form of evangelism, book writing, and converges that message with the online medium of tweeting. This convergence with a form of modern-day interaction allows Jenkins to deliver his religious message to an audience that perhaps would not have the time or patience to purchase and read his 400-page book. Jenkins is not the only author or person using the online network to practice his religious beliefs, but this form of networked religion is instead seen through the tweets of many religious authors, pastors, and leaders today.
Campbell, H. (2011). Understanding the relationship between religion online and offline in a networked society. American Academy of Religion, 80(1), 64-93. Retrieved from http://web.ebscohost.com.lib-ezproxy.tamu.edu:2048/ehost/pdfviewer/pdfviewer?sid=3da7adf7-b86d-4870-af30-47983a195363@sessionmgr12&vid=2&hid=19