Tuesday, October 8, 2013

Jenkins, Rainey and Chan

Continuing in my research on how Christianity is lived out through the tweeting of Christian authors, I have now chosen to look at three more authors—Jerry Jenkins, Dennis Rainey and Francis Chan.

What I find interesting about Jerry Jenkins (author of Left Behind series) is that his tweets are aligned with the current book he is writing or has currently released. For instance, since late July, his tweets have been in relation to a new book he has published entitled “I, Saul” which is based on the character of Saul in the Bible and how he transformed his life from being “one day a murderer” and the next, “a follower of Christ” (https://twitter.com/JerryBJenkins). Jenkins’ tweets adhere to everyday people—sinners—who are thus able to identify closely with Saul and have joy that, they too, can turn their lives around from sin to redemption. A couple of his tweets are as follows:  

“The transformation of Saul reminds us that God can turn anyone’s life around”
“Paul’s story reminds us that God can take our weaknesses, infuse us with His power, and prove Himself Lord of all.”

Next, looking at Dennis Rainey, the author constructs his tweets similar to Keller and Thomas in that he provides a tweet of personal thought and reflection and substantiates it with a Bible verse. For instance, he tweets: 

"The fear of God, not man, leads to life. Who do you fear more? Proverbs 19:23"
"Ask God to help you be obedient to his calling, especially when it goes against your plan. Prov. 19:21"
"The Bible was written so that we may believe, and by believing we have life in His name. John 20:30-31"

Rainey spreads the Word of God through inspirational words of wisdom that find their basis in the Bible; he chooses a roundabout way of spreading the Gospel (as opposed to stating Bible verses verbatim). https://twitter.com/DennisRainey

Lastly, I have chosen to look at author and pastor Francis Chan. What I find interesting about Chan’s twitter is that it is not him who posts, but someone who posts for him (with quotes from his books). Therefore, his words are still being tweeted; however they are coming straight from his books. Here are a few of his tweets: 

"I wouldn’t want to forgive someone who walked into my daughter’s school and shot her, but that is exactly what Christ asks us to do." – Francis Chan
"If everyone was like you, what would the church be like?" - Francis Chan
"You have to stop loving and pursuing Christ in order to sin." - Francis Chan

All in all, what I have noticed about these three authors is that they pose thoughts and questions on the reader that force the reader to think about his/her own life in relation to a Christ follower’s life.  Their tweets bring conviction to the reader that, therefore, illicit desired change in the reader’s life. The tweets selected this week pose very similarly to the tweets studied previously in that all nine authors' tweets are supported by Scripture with a tag of the author’s personal thought. An overall message the studied tweets proclaim is that everyone is a sinner, however there is redemption through Christ. Whether the authors are using other people’s stories to deliver this message (character of Saul) or Bible verses themselves, they are trying to reach out to their Twitter followers with the message of “there is grace in Christ." The authors then provide supplemental tweets on what one's life looks like to follow Christ--a life of humility and selflessness.

Thursday, October 3, 2013

What Do These Authors Have in Common?

                  Over the past few weeks, I have been looking at six different Christian authors and studying how their “tweeting” affects their Twitter followers in such a way that is spreading the Christian faith.  I chose to look at Max Lucado, John Piper, Gary Chapman, Timothy Keller, Gary Thomas and Kay Arthur. What I have noticed through these six authors’ tweets is that they all seem to deliver messages that are Biblically based, however their tweets are geared toward the audience in which these authors are trying to reach. For instance, authors such as Gary Chapman and Gary Thomas both deliver biblical tweets, however their tweets are targeted to marriage life. On the other hand, authors such as Max Lucado, John Piper, and Timothy Keller tailor their tweets to the general audience—delivering messages that are applicable to all types of people (married or not).
                  No matter the selected audience, these authors all use various methods to deliver their messages. The methods they use include writing scripture verses verbatim (John Piper), giving inspirational messages that are supported by scripture (Chapman, Keller & Thomas), providing one’s own personal thoughts about life (Lucado) or asking questions to their followers that provide links to external sources of information (Arthur).
                  Many of these author’s messages pertain to 1) how to deal with suffering in a Godly way and 2) how to build and maintain relationships in a Godly way. Of course, these authors’ messages pertain to general aspects of the Christian life, however the main themes of their tweets have to do with advising people in their walks with God as they experience the hardships of the secular world.
                  Overall, these authors do not disagree in any of their statements. They frame Christianity in the same way due to the fact that they use the same source of information (the Bible) before delivering their messages. Many of these authors, in fact, all come from seminary schools; therefore, their thought processes are relatively the same. They deliver Christianity as a way of religious life where one is able to take their suffering and transform it into a positive light of redemption and growth. For instance, author Gary Chapman lost his mother this past week and tweeted many messages of how to use one’s suffering as a period of spiritual growth in life. These authors use their own life experiences to enhance their religious messages.
                  Over the next several weeks, I will be further analyzing how Christianity is displayed via Twitter. I will be answering the question of “How are the tweets and re-tweets of prominent Christian authors affecting the lives, in a positive and negative way, of both Christians and non-Christians as they follow these authors on Twitter?”