Twitter brought them (by Mike Ellis)

I connected with Mike on Twitter. I’m going be honest. I follow a bunch of people on there. If you want my attention, you have to actually talk to me directly. Which he did. (I think it was something sarcastic, which pretty much always gets my attention.) Anyway, I think Mike’s story about connecting to folks on Twitter is pretty cool. Here’s Mike:

Before I became a Tweep I had no idea that Twitter could be used as an evangelism tool. After I created my Twitter account in May of 2009 it didn’t take long to see that Twitter is chock full of Tweeps who will connect with you if you’ll take the time to find, watch, listen, engage and share with them. Tweeps on Twitter are waiting for Christ followers who will be real, authentic and transparent. What else? If you want success in Twitter evangelism you must be non-judgmental, loving and willing to connect with people that don’t believe, think, look or live like you. In my opinion we need to “love people to Jesus”. I am going to share stories about the people who come to bible studies, volunteer at the homeless ministry and go to church due to connections they’ve made with my friend, my pastor and me through Twitter.

Kelly’s Twitter name is @pagankelly. Her Twitter bio reads: “Wiccan, Wife, and Mother”. I connected with Kelly on Twitter and then had coffee with her and other Tweeps at weekly Tweetups in Daytona Beach, Florida. After a few Tweetups she eventually asked me a question, “Mike, my kids have been talking about going to church. What is the name of that church you belong to?” Kelly, her husband Jeff (@the chef_ on Twitter), daughter Teri and son Michael came to church. It was the first time that Kelly, Jeff and the kids came to church together as a family. Along with regular visits to church, they’ve attended Sunday school and volunteered their time during special events. After the connection on Twitter why did Kelly and her family come? “You knew who I was and you invited me. You knew I wasn’t a Christian and it didn’t matter”, Kelly said. Kelly sent this Twitter direct message to me today, “Thank you for being my friend.”

Christine’s (@ChristineBlake) Twitter bio is unique: “Selling drugs out of the trunk of my car”. Before you make any judgments, Christine is a pharmaceutical sales representative. Christine is Catholic and her son attends Catholic school. Due to parent concerns, her son’s school discontinued a tradition of the kids preparing and serving lunch to the homeless. It was a disappointment to Christine. She began looking for other opportunities for her son to serve the less fortunate. Prior to this Christine and I connected through Twitter but she took notice when I tweeted about the homeless ministry at my church. Christine and her son helped serve dinner several times, donated clothing and even rounded up cots for our homeless friends to sleep on. Lately I have been tweeting about a weekly bible study at my friend Russell’s home and Christine is coming. It’s the first time she has ever been to bible study. Last night she told me, “I didn’t know Methodists had bible studies. I thought only Baptists did that!” After the Twitter connection why did Christine serve the homeless and come to the bible study? “You knew I had a church and you were cool with that. I also knew you weren’t going to Jehovah witness me,” said Christine.

Elaine (@ebmk16) and I met at one of the weekly coffee Tweetups. She was attending another church not too far from mine. Elaine watched what my friend, my pastor and I were tweeting. What I didn’t know was that she was struggling to connect and get involved in the church she was attending. Elaine began to see my tweets about getting involved in the homeless ministry. One night she came to our church to serve. She took her involvement to another level when she began knitting scarves for each of our homeless friends. Soon Elaine was attending church on a weekly basis and just recently became a member. After the Twitter connection what brought Elaine to church? “You were demonstrating God on earth. You pulled me in by making it easy to get involved and connected.”

After 13 years of being away from church Twitter, Nascar and a tweeting pastor brought Dana (@Dana88) back. It was the 4th of July. Dana was watching the Pepsi 400 on TV and watching tweets on Twitter about her favorite drivers. She noticed that someone new was following her. She checked out his bio and the website listed on his Twitter page. It was Tom Nelson ( @TomForPeace) the pastor of my church. Earlier that same day I spent several hours with Tom teaching him how to use Twitter. I showed him how to intentionally find people, begin following and connecting with them. One of those people was Dana. The next day, Sunday July 5th, Dana came to church. Since last July Dana has been attending church on a weekly basis. After the Twitter connection what brought Dana back to church? “You didn’t pressure me or use fear. You shared openly and were real, “Dana said.

When Christie moved to Daytona Beach, FL she began attending a singles group at church. It wasn’t long before she was being judged about having a TV, her work schedule and the probing questions she asked about the bible. She stopped attending church. I met Christie by connecting through Twitter. Not long after that we met in person at coffee Tweetups. At the Tweetups and on Twitter, Christie heard about the homeless ministry at my church. She traveled to thrift shops and stores to round up and then donate clothes for the homeless. Christie hasn’t been to a church service yet but she plans on doing it soon. She’s been away from church since 2001. After the Twitter connection what would make her consider coming back? Christie said, “You aren’t uptight, pushy or try to put unrealistic expectations on me. You’re friendly.”

Jane (@SeeJaneSell) stopped attending church 25 years ago. I met Jane at a coffee Tweetup and didn’t see her again until she showed up at a cold weather shelter for the homeless at the church. She had a horrible day at work and saw tweets about helping at the shelter. Instead of sulking she came to serve others. The next step for Jane was attending church. She now attends church weekly. Last Sunday Jane became a member of the church. After the Twitter connection what brought Jane back to church? She said, “I felt like something was pointing me there. You weren’t pushy. You opened up your arms to me and I felt like I belonged.”

What are you doing to intentionally find, follow, connect, engage, share and reach out to people through social media?

How do you search and find people on Twitter? Click here.

Would you like to see another post I wrote on Twitter Evangelism? Click here.

What is a Tweetup? Find out by clicking here.

Mike Ellis is a messed up Christ follower. The church he writes about in this post is First United Methodist Church in Port Orange, FL. He has been working in promotion and marketing for 31 years. He is not a social media expert but he does know enough to be dangerous. You can connect with Mike through his blog and follow him on Twitter at @MarketerMikeE.

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