Why I don’t follow @RickWarren

first off, i love and appreciate Rick Warren.  i have been to his church on several occasions, read The Purpose Driven Life, and even defended his choice of Hawaiian shirts & khakis, but when it comes to Twitter i just can’t bring myself to click the Follow button.  he is just one of the many christian influencers of our time that consistently unsocialize the social media.  “how’s that?” you say.  it’s quite simple actually…

according to Twitter, Twitter may be used for any number of purposes, but originally it was for the purpose of connection.

Twitter is a real-time information network,

powered by people all around the world

that lets you share and discover what’s happening now.

that’s why i enjoy twitter, for the sharing and the discovering.  i mean, how cool was it that the Kutcher’s took pics of themselves on their way to meet with Letterman and actually @ replied fans?  very cool.   that was just the beginning.  since then, those that seemed so “special” and “distant” have become semi-normal & near.  not so, for many in the Christian celebrity realm.  heck, not so for even some Christian pseudo celebrities (local church leaders, staff members, bloggers, singers, & musicians that are way too cool for Sunday school).  as usual, Christians are most skilled at the “one-sided” conversation.  we love to encourage our followers with scriptures, inspirational quotes, RTs of Rick Warren’s admonishments to pastors & lovely exaggerations of how AMAZING our churches are. [note: there are amazing churches, but it is impossible for there to be as many as we claim, for if there were, we would have a very different world.]  this behavior results in the following:

the #christianunsocialmedia where advice is plentiful, but humanity is sparse .

i don’t follow Rick Warren, but i get his tweets daily thanks to the Rick Warren Retweet Disciples.  you know who you are… you’re those people that would love to tell your pastors how you really feel, but instead you let big daddy Rick say it, by way of retweet.  but does Rick ever RT your RT or @ reply your gratefulness of his wisdom?  he doesn’t.  i know he doesn’t because he set up his twitter to speak, not hear.  Rick’s tweets read like a page from a book and i’d rather just buy the book.  in case you weren’t aware, it’s for pastors to receive wisdom as he tweets it out.  here is an actual tweet i pulled from his page:

Twitter can be a useful discipline for commuicators* communicators

if u use it to practice saying big ideas in brief ways. 2:11 PM Apr 17th via web

On the other hand, a week ago i purchased a book, Plan B, from Amazon.com and tweeted that i was looking forward to its arrival… the author, @pwilson (lead pastor @crosspoint_tv) direct messaged me & thanked me for buying his book.  he even wished me a great weekend.  when the book arrived i tweeted of its arrival and sure enough, @pwilson messaged me again “enjoy the book & the rain.”  i can’t even begin to imagine how difficult it must be to manage tens of thousands of followers, but somehow @aplusk (Ashton Kutcher) seems to manage nearly 5,000,000 followers & still has the time to bring awareness to social causes, share wisdom, share twitpics, home videos, and even @ reply followers internationally.   here’s the point… i am not so sure that it’s okay for us to be so busy that we can’t be normal and reachable, that we can’t discreetly reveal our humanity to those that have been kind enough to click the Follow button.  this is our chance as Christians to reveal our humanity to the masses.  after all, within the masses are skeptics, critics, wanderers, and seekers… the harvest is plenty tweeps.

so that’s that.  that’s why i don’t follow Rick Warren.  it’s nothing personal, i just don’t use twitter to be communicated at, but rather to communicate with.  why do you use Twitter?  are you tweeter and a listener?  do you think @ replies and other interaction between followees & followers is beneficial?  what say you Tweeps?

*misspelling from original source

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  • Comments (42)
  1. Love it Julia. The way many Christian leaders and their followers use twitter seem to be a direct reflection to the way their organizations are run. “Come listen to me once a week (maybe more if you’re really devoted) and then spread my words to the community in hopes that they will soon be followers as well”. We have turned a precious community into mindless ReTeeters…individuals who put aside their gifted minds to spew regurgitated tidbits to the public.

    Now…I do ReTweet on occasion and will continue to do so, but as my comment here shows, I am not afraid to dive into the conversation. ReTweeting is not issue, being unsocial is.

    Here’s some wisdom from “A Bronx Tale”:

    Young Calogero: Bill Mazeroski, I hate him. He made Mickey Mantle cry. The papers said the Mick cried.

    Sonny: Mickey Mantle? That’s what you’re upset about? Mantle makes $100,000 a year. How much does your father make? If your dad ever can’t pay the rent and needs money, go ask Mickey Mantle. See what happens. Mickey Mantle don’t care about you. Why care about him?

    Calogero: [narrating] After that, I never felt the same way about the Yankees.

    • JuliaKate
    • April 28th, 2010

    Good ole Bronx Tale… i remembered it as i typed this one out. josh, if you’re up for it, a blog about the church of the Retweet sounds extremely interesting. what a great parallel point.

      • JuliaKate
      • April 28th, 2010

      oh & Pete may read it, but if it takes him a while it’s most likely because he’s off to Knoxville to speak at a conference & his wife gets to come… which he’s super excited about. see… humanity on twitter;)

  2. I guess everyone has a different purpose for twitter. I twitter and blog because I feel like my other main form of communication (preaching) is so one sided.

    I’m tired of hearing myself talk and want to engage in a conversation.

    Hope you’re still enjoying the book but I hope it’s stopped raining by now. 🙂

      • JuliaKate
      • April 28th, 2010

      that’s it! i’m moving to Nashville and joining Cross Point! jk Thanks Pete for your openness. i am truly “enjoying” Plan B… but enjoying doesn’t seem like the right word now does it, not yet;) as soon as i’m done i’ll be handing it off to my mother who is trying to muster up hope for her plan b also.
      May God’s grace continue for you and through you.
      Julia Kate

  3. Maybe ol’ Rick should watch some of Mel’s videos on JARAUniversity.com about social media etiquette. I like the post. Mostly because its so ballsy and true. Anyone else besides a friggin Swodeck have an opinion out there? 🙂 I subscribed to receive follow-up comments…I’m dyin’ to hear Pastor Rick’s rebuttle…

      • JuliaKate
      • April 28th, 2010

      haha Jake! cross your fingers hope to die stick a needle in your eye… he just might, lol! but really, who cares. the point is that as of 10pm tonight 90+ people have read about how they can influence on twitter and perhaps heard a different perspective. on top of that, i’ve received quite a few emails from peeps who are quite impressed with Pete Wilson & will be purchasing the Plan B book on Amazon;) See… social media influences the masses, we just have to determine in what direction we will influence.

    • Mireya
    • April 28th, 2010

    I’m not a Swodeck! I’m much more the quiet type……….

    Julia I’m lovn your two cents! Our first priority is to be in relationship with Christ…..Second with each other. How is this at all possible if you (insert name of any leader)won’t stop talking AT ME!…. Being in relationship with me actually requires more work on your part! It means WE RELATE. Wether we agree, challenge our thoughts or agree to disagree we BOTH should partake in a discussion/exchange/dialogue….. To relate with me you must experience me….. How is that possible if you won’t even acknowledge me and HEAR ME???? If not you are merely preaching to yourself for self gratification purposes. You add followers just to know somebody is following… listening…. But if truth be told you don’t really care who.’ =(

    Ok that’s my two cents! A bit winded but you got me going missy! =) I am super impressed by @pwilson @reply!! So much so that I’m going to get his book! =)

    **Btw…. If Jesus were here He would DEF be Tweeting AND @REPLY!!!! ….I’m just sayn…. 😉


      • JuliaKate
      • April 29th, 2010

      Mireya, thanks for adding your two cents! it’s great to hear your perspective. there are many that feel like you do and not just about “twitter”, obviously. you are going to LOVE the Plan B book and girl, you are so right… if Jesus had a twitter he would definitely be @ replying;)

    • Bernalee
    • April 28th, 2010

    I hesitate to have an opinion cuz I am a friggin swodeck! lol I love this post… I let Christians of all status positions on my FB/Twitter accounts and they consistently “spew” their theology (without study), political expressions (with out much factual knowledge)and prayer requests with assurance that the answer they project will be the one they demand well before God has a chance to choose! Let’s get real and be “faithful” enough to let someone else speak! It may not fully agree with us, but we can’t be cowards. At the very least we can “hear” their perspective. We might actually learn something… don’t laugh…there are some things even we don’t know…

      • JuliaKate
      • April 29th, 2010

      i had to reread the first part… a swodeck hesitating to have an opinion?!?!?!? hahaha! you’re so right. there is a lot of goofy thinking being “spewed” on FB & twitter and perhaps the best way to learn is through open dialogue… at least that’s how God seemed to teach His people;)

    • Natalie
    • April 29th, 2010

    Ok so I am not a Swodeck and I am not a twitter-er a twitter follower, tweeter etc. etc. I do however happen to appreciate using tools for what they are created for and making genuine connections. I recently had a conversation with a good friend about how busy-ness and effeciency are celebrated in the Evangelical community. I once heard a pastor brag on a guest speaker’s ability to answer 50 emails in the car from the hotel to the church. While that is quite an impressive volume, I wonder what may have been missed in the space between speaker and driver. Perhaps a life changing conversation or simply a moment of peace, insights shared, laughter. My friend made a good point…if you are busy, be busy, but don’t pretend to be “available” to sign a book when your mind is really somewhere else. If you are going to meet me, look at me, hear my name, look me in the eye…paraphrase.

    From someone like me who tends to retreat into her own mind and feelings, and go quiet at times, this is a good provocation (is that a word?) to be relentless about connecting…tweet or no tweet. Answer my phone, return calls, respond to posts on facebook, have people over for dinner or coffee…I am tured just thinking about it all. But I would’t want to live life any other way…how boring and lonely.

      • JuliaKate
      • April 29th, 2010

      wow… this totally hit the nail on the head. “busy-ness and efficiency are celebrated in the Evangelical community”… but what are we busy doing, what are we efficient in, what are we excellent at? man oh man… why is the Church so afraid to pause, reflect, repent, & regroup. we keep moving forward and there is an obvious disconnect. Reminds me of a great blog I read this week at An Idol Hear. Check it out: Rebuild in Progress http://www.anidolheart.com/?p=848

    • Woody
    • April 29th, 2010

    I’m just a Swodeck wannabe, but have some change to put in the offering here… Indeed, this was a doozy of a blog and should be read (and hopefully will) by more people than do.

    Communication, by it’s very definition is 2-sided. Pretending to socialize through media by posting drive-by comments, even “spiritual” ones is detrimental to the goal. When I take the time to comment on someone’s blog, FB page or any other media means, I expect a reply. After all, I have one mouth and two ears. I WANT to know what you think, not have to guess about it.

      • JuliaKate
      • April 29th, 2010

      it’s interesting that you say that. i have been noticing lately that some really great bloggers actually take the time to reply to people who comment on their page. now, to keep perspective, some have 100’s of comments and can’t comment on every single one, but their presence is definitely felt in the dialogue and not just as the orator. Woody, if you have the time, check out some of the blogs i have suggested on my home page to the right. good stuff;)

  4. I think you present a very valid reason here. And I totally agree with you.
    Its very interesting to see what social media has done to the culture Five years ago you could have bought a book and the author would never tell you that they hope you enjoyed it. The only message they could send was in the preface of the book. But that felt very cold.
    Now, twitter allows others to see when someone is talking about them and interact. Beautiful.

    I will say though, I had a friend the other day tell me that Rick Warren DMed him about an interesting tweet. So he interacts some I guess.

      • JuliaKate
      • May 14th, 2010

      thanks for stopping by Kyle. i suppose what really brought on this post in the first place was the concept of twitter listeners. there are tons of people who text in their tweets and never check up on replies or messages, etc. it really got me thinking and i went threw my friends list and followers list and started deleting peeps that never seemed to check in. now, on the other hand i follow conan o’brien and he obviously only follows the one chick, but Conan is hilarious and i am not looking for dialogue. i’m looking for hilarity in 140 characters or less. but the worship singer at my church that is heading over to yogurtland for the 4th time this week, but never checks in to answer what’s her favorite flavor… delete. i’m half joking, but you get the point. i picked Rick because he was pretty good example of a twitter account of a whole other animal… inspirational admonishment;) i just revisited his page and he seems to be dialoging some more lately. Good for his followers. like i said, i like the guy. but his tweets just aren’t very interesting to me. is that ok to say? oh well… i said it;)

  5. You make some valid points about the reason for Twitter. I would, however, say that Rick Warren doesn’t apply. He’s messaged me and direct messaged me a few times. Just because he can’t respond to everyone doesn’t mean he’s not listening and responding when appropriate.

      • JuliaKate
      • May 16th, 2010

      Thanks for sharing your experiences with Rick Warren. as i just stated in my response to Kenny, my intention of this blog was to state why i don’t follow Rick Warren on Twitter & to get Christians to consider how they are using & will be using twitter (and other forms of social media) to further the Gospel and build an open community. i prefer the personal side of twitter… that’s just who i am.
      thanks for stopping by. Checked out your blog… good stuff:)

  6. Hmmm…pretty big @rickwarren bashing going on.

    Interesting notes, using Rick Warren as an example for people who use it as a megaphone. But personally, he’s responded and DM’d me in the past, so I don’t know exactly if what you’re saying is truly representative.

    Regardless of his actual practice of using Twitter, I wonder if it would be a better use of your energy to focus on ‘good examples’ of Twitterratti in your view so that others can proactively follow them?

      • JuliaKate
      • May 16th, 2010

      Thanks for visiting the blog Kenny. i am quick to note that it was not my intention to bash Rick Warren. i was simply stating my reasons for not following him on twitter. some of the comments have been quite passionate, but there is much discontentment within the Church between the relationship of clergy & laypeople… i suppose this struck a nerve concerning authenticity & communication. blogs are intended to provoke conversation and i appreciate the perspective that you added.

  7. While I don’t think this post really was about whether or not Rick Warren actually responded back on a few occasions or not…it seems that this is the direction the conversation has turned.

    I have been privileged (insert sarcasm) to hang in church green rooms with some of the biggest names in Christianity. While I was reading this, I thought…many of these folks have said hello to me (stepping away from twitter for a sec). Heck, they have even had actual conversations with me. However, I quickly realize that the same is not to be said for the “follower” in the 97th row at “service”.

    Twitter on the other hand provides an unique opportunity to open the “green room door” and interact with whomever chooses to engage.

    I’m sure Rick Warren has engaged in conversation with many…he is not a cold robot. I’m also not saying that he should “interact” personally with all 98,284 twitter followers. I’m just saying that as church leaders, we should be careful not to create “twitter green rooms”…closing the doors to conversation on twitter.

    It’s not about bashing anyone, it’s about looking into what is possible.

    • Mireya
    • May 17th, 2010

    @swodeck nailed it on the head!! “Twitter Green Rooms!” ……. That is EXACTLY what is going on! =O

    Good stuff JuliaKate! Keep probing! =)

  8. wow. a friend of mine passed me this post. i read it on my iphone but didn’t realized you wrote this… great post!!! i completely agree with what you are saying and it’s exactly why i don’t follow rick or others in similar positions who don’t engage with their people:)

    thanks for this post!

  9. nice. that is why i love @aplusk and i have yet to unfollow him. LOL well ofcourse i like him for his boyish charms as well 😉

    u like how irrelevant my comment is to your post?


  10. Really great read. Honestly..

  11. I so much appreciate this post. I have two Twitter accounts, social and business both of which I seek to interact from as much as I can.

    Just last week I was looking carefully at tweeters like @pwilson (I mentioned his book on Twitter a few weeks ago and had no response). @MichaelHyatt very rarely interacts with more than 10 people, but follows and has circa 85K followers.

    @RandyElrod, in my opinion is the perfect user of social media, on Twitter he is gracious and interacts widely. On his blog he carefully replies to comments showing he has given consideration to the actual comment.

    Your post has significant meaning which many could benefit from. Thank you.

    • I actually interact with scores daily, but usually via DM. I personally don’t like to have my Twitter stream cluttered up with a lot of replies that are really a conversation between two people. If it has a broader application, and I think it might be of interest to everyone, then I reply.

      I don’t know if there’s a right or wrong way to do it; it’s just my personal preference. Thanks.

      P.S. Randy is one of my dearest friends and the one who introduced me to Twitter. I definitely have a lot I can learn from him.

        • JuliaKate
        • October 4th, 2010

        thank you for stopping by Michael. I hope you will read through my comments to see how this idea has evolved.
        my pastor doesn’t @reply at all and upon first glance i thought perhaps he was a part of the anti-social social media. it wasn’t true. he DMs like crazy! it was difficult enough for him to even sign up for twitter, because he’s very concerned with how he is read. i understand the insecurity or should i say caution. twitter is a medium and can be used however the account holder wants/desires. you have many followers for a reason… people enjoy your information. you obviously have something special to offer.
        this post was to bring attention to the opportunity of engagement and community on twitter. it’s not the only way to go, it’s just the route i prefer.

      • JuliaKate
      • October 4th, 2010

      i have an uncle who has nearly 2,000 followers and follows no one. i am not one of those 2,000 and he knows why;) I feel that everyone has the right to utilize this medium however they would like. But… this post is just a reminder that we have an opportunity as christians to become human again, to represent our God as approachable to be just the same… approachable. we aren’t perfect and some of us have business to tend to, but sharing our humanity is one of the greatest examples given by Christ. he had the children come and approach. he told stories and sat with the people. he touched them and looked them in the eye. an @reply isn’t looking someone in the eye or a touch on the shoulder, but it does seem to have a similar effect these days.
      thank you for reading and commenting. your voice is appreciated and welcomed.

      • An update to my comment above – within minutes of submitting a link to this post, @MichaelHyatt responded – “I just left a comment on that post. I think it’s just a difference of philosophy. Thanks for pointing me to the post.”

        That’s the great value of Twitter and full credit to Michael for using it to its full and responding with his position.

          • JuliaKate
          • October 4th, 2010

          loved that!

  12. Julia,

    I definitely appreciate your point of view. I also find it carries over to blog posts as well. If I write a post and someone takes the time to comment, I feel like it’s my duty to respond to that comment to express appreciation and engage.

    I’m not a fan of anyone who uses social media as an information fire hose – blasting us in the face with opinions and talking points but having no intent to respond.

    That being said, I’m slowly softening. Not everyone has the time to respond to mentions. Does that mean they shouldn’t participate in social media at all?

    Thanks for your article. Rick’s Retweeterati take care of filling up a lot of our tweet stream’s with Rick’s words. And that might not be a bad thing.

    I’m curious… in hearing from people that Rick does in fact read, respond, and DM, will this cause you to reconsider not following him?

    Have a nice day. 🙂


      • JuliaKate
      • October 4th, 2010

      the truth is that Rick has revised his twitter behavior since i wrote this. he thanks people, @replies and once in a while even retweets. when he began his twitter account, his bio said “pastor to pastors” and some stuff about encouraging pastors or admonishing them or whatever. i am not a pastor. his bio/description line has since changed. i think he’s a good follow for some people. he still sounds like a book to me, whether that be a bible or a daily devotional, and that’s not my follow style.
      i don’t think this post does anything to damage his reputation as a pastor or a man of God. this is about twitter and the evolution of how we will relate to the world through social media as christians. he was used as an example because he was the most obvious choice at the time.
      thank you for reading and hearing the heart of the post.
      i may follow him one day, but still find no need to since his tweets show up daily in my feed regardless;)

  13. Great post and I whole heartedly agree. Twitter is a tool for communication, not for just being communicated to.

      • JuliaKate
      • October 4th, 2010

      thanks for stopping by and voicing your opinion:)

  14. Absolutly love this post! Im a Christian myself, have been for the past 8 years. I have lots of Christian followers and I follow some too, and I must say a lot of Pastors out there and other Christians kind of bug me on Twitter. They use it mainly as a tool to post Bible Verses and other quotations in the Bible, which to me is annoying because there is not communication.

    Im a blogger and freelance web designer, so I use Twitter to connect with clients and Twitter also helps me promote my blog articles and find inspirational information!

    A big thing you shouldnt forgett about on Twitter is your followers, dont follow for the sake of numbers, its important to interact from time to time!

    Nice post Julia!
    God Bless.

      • JuliaKate
      • October 5th, 2010

      as per usual, christians have a responsibility to relate, connect, engage, and love. there are differing opinions on how that would look on twitter and this was just mine. thank you for sharing yours Phil.

    • Kelli
    • October 5th, 2010

    Thanks Julia. I’ve stopped tweeting all together for this very reason. It began to feel like I was talking to myself. lol

    No seriously, I honestly think people who are high profile really should seriously consider NOT tweeting because if they don’t handle it well they can quickly lose their fan base/followers.

    Thanks for the insightful article.


      • JuliaKate
      • October 5th, 2010

      sorry to hear you gave up on twitter, but i do know that it’s not for everyone. i think it would be wise for everyone to seriously consider whether or not they have the time to care for it in a responsible way. great suggestion.
      thanks for the encouragement and for stopping by Kelli.

    • allthingshousewife
    • November 3rd, 2010

    I have in the past followed a lot of “celebrity Christians” on twitter and to be honest, gotten sick of hearing their constantly upbeat motivational tweets about everything! Give me some honesty! Give me some real life! I find a lot of them just post inspirational stuff, which some people absolutely love, I’m just not one of them. I’d prefer to connect more personally too:)

      • JuliaKate
      • November 9th, 2010

      exactly! i know it is a lot about preference, but it’s really something that we should consider as christians. thanks for stopping by Caz. it was good to hear your thoughts;)

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