Friday, February 08, 2013

Does the Pope Tweet in the Woods? Does Anyone Hear It?

Well, if you've been wondering who to follow on Twitter, and you're a Christian, look no further than this list. ChurchLeaders.com has compiled a list of the top 100 Christian leaders to follow on Twitter. News flash: I'm not on it.

News flash: neither is the pope. The pope.

I count fifteen women, nine people of color (one of whom is one of the fifteen women), two Osteens and one organization among the top Christian leaders. (Matthew Paul Turner got a different number: seven men of color and nine women; he's #27 on the list, so we should all probably take his word for it.) The organization that is among the top 100 Christian leaders is "Grace to You," which is a ministry of pastor John MacArthur. Marketing guru Seth Godin is on the list as well, which has called the question from a number of people: "Seth Godin is a Christian?" He may well be, but that's not how he's made his mark on the world.

Here's how you make the cut: "In general, the rating system we used took into account the number of followers, the power of followers and the number of updates—with a little common sense added in for good measure." I don't know what "the power of followers" is meant to suggest, but it may be an aggregate of Klout scores or number of circles on Google+. If I find out I'll report back. However the math works, it puts Joel Osteen on top; nomadic second-string quarterback Tim Tebow rounds out the list at #100.

We're not given a sample tweet from each person (or entity) on the list; we're not even technically given the leader's name. We're only told the Twitter handle and how many followers each Twitter account has--as well as how many people they follow. I find that part interesting: Bill Hybels, for example (@BillHybels), #10 on the list, is followed by 117,363 people, but he himself only follows six: Lynne Hybels, Nicholas Kristoff, Michael E. Porter, Jim Mellado, Shauna Nyquist and Jack Welch. (I follow two of his six.) He currently has under 300 tweets; here's a sample:

I'll be honest: none of his tweets is striking me as can't miss--none, in fact, lived up to the article's promise of "bold and provocative quotes and pithy one-liners, ... helpful links, how-tos and news." I went twenty or so tweets deep before I moved on.

I don't mention this out of disrespect for Bill Hybels; I actually hold him in pretty high regard. He was my pastor for about eight years, and he once gave me directions to a Willow Creek bathroom. But I sort of think that "a little common sense" would have striven for some greater diversity; Christianity is a big tent, a global enterprise. More nonevangelicals, More non-Americans, more nonwhites, more nonmen--these inclusions wouldn't have just been politically correct; they would have been intellectually honest.

At the very least, shouldn't the list have included Pope Benedict, who made worldwide news on December 12 when he opened his Twitter account (@Pontifex)? I admit he has fewer tweets (currently 33) than many of the list, but he has more than a million followers (on Twitter; the number of followers at Sunday morning mass is, uh, slightly higher). Maybe the power of each follower is exceptionally low. I'm one of his Twitter followers, so the case could be made for that.

Here's a sample tweet from His Holiness:

The pope follows eight people on Twitter. News flash: I'm not one of them.

All this to say, I found this list annoying, and I needed to vent about it. How about you?

Am I making too big a deal of this? Why?

Who would you add to the list? Why?

1 comment:

Donald said...

@missional Life in intentional community in inner-city Winnipeg