Sunday, June 21, 2009

You will know them by their tweets . . .

As we continue to explore how information is validated and affirmed in this brave new world, I stumbled across a powerful example as I was following This person consistently shared the reality on the ground in a powerful and honest way. You felt their pain as they saw fellow countrymen beaten, their fear as they had to move locations to avoid detection, their anger as they shared about perceived injustice, and their joy as they imagined what might be. As I followed along with their feed, I saw that these people were for real. I wasn't the only one. On Tuesday of last week they had 8,000 followers and now they have over 30,000!

But then something strange happened, the Iranian secret police started infiltrating twitter and other social media sites to spread disinformation and catch this new generation of journalists. As this began to happen, @persiankiwi shared the following stream of tweets:

ok - tonight twitter is full of gov usernames. all users IGNORE all post
except from reliable sources - #Iranelection

IMPORTANT to all tweeters in iran - follow my next message carefuully -
#Iranelectionabout 2 hours ago
from mobile

do NOT follow any instructions on twitter except from the trusted sources -
cont...... #Iranelectionabout 1 hour ago
from mobile

ignore all instructions from new twitters or twitters with no history of
accurate posts - cont.... #Iranelectionsabout 1 hour ago
from mobile

i cannot name the reliable sources because we are now the main attention of
censors - but .. cont.... #Iranelection20 minutes ago from mobile

you will know them by looking at their past tweets -
cont.... - #Iranelection6 minutes ago from mobile

When I read this, I couldn't help but think about the profound statement that these simple little phrases had made. What they were saying was simple - look at what the person has said over time and if there is truth there follow them.

In other words, find those authentic voices around you and stick close to them. But what makes a voice authentic? What makes it true? Websters Dictionary defined authenticity as:
–conforming to an original so as to reproduce essential features
–made or done the same way as an original

In our lives as Christians, authenticity means "conforming to" Jesus Christ in every aspect of our lives and representing that to others. Just like the Iranian twitterer who challenged us to look for those voices who were speaking truth about the situation in Tehran, we are challenged to be voices that represent Jesus.

In Acts 6:3 the disciples realized that they were not taking care of the needs of the believers adequately. So, in order for them to focus on preaching, they looked around for some authentic Jesus followers to take up this task. The result was the choosing of Stephen and his preparation for the ultimate sacrifice.

The apostles knew that only an authentic voice could carry out the mercy ministries in a loving and compassionate way. They looked for someone who was conformed to Jesus to "be Jesus" to others.

What a challenge. This isn't a challenge to do nice things or to look smart. This is a challenge to be the truth of the Gospel in our relationships with others. Just like Jesus represented God's love incarnate, He has now commissioned us to represent His love through our lives (although we are far from perfect as He is).

I love John 17:22-23 where Jesus prays, "I have given them the glory that you gave me, that they may be one as we are one: I in them and you in me. May they be brought to complete unity to let the world know that you sent me and have loved them even as you have loved me."

As I have been processing these ideas, I went to lunch with a new friend and a wonderful generous mind - Eric Foley. We talked about this idea of truth through relationship and how we can be Jesus to others and bring His truth to others in powerful ways. Eric definitely brought truth to me that day over an amazing lunch of asian cuisine.

So what does this have to do with innovation - besides the reference to twitter? Well, plenty. What is innovation? It is bringing a new idea - a new reality - into the world. If you are not an authentic voice with a long history of truth-telling in your life, then no one will be interested in your ideas. Only authentic voices have the opportunity to help bring innovations into this world.

What is your track record like? If your life was posted on twitter, would your tweets show a life that represents Jesus? What would people say about that long stream of thoughts, feelings and actions? Would they say, "Wow, I want to know that Jesus!" or would they say "What is this person all about - I don't get it?"

An authentic trail leads to many new opportunities . . . an innovator's dream. But a trail of lies, double-talk and selfishness leads to more of the same - a focus on self and little chance to bring new ideas into the world or impact the world in any useful way.

So are you an authentic voice?


Dick said...

The RTCA (Radio and TV Correspondents Association) had that gala dinner bash last week. It was filled with back slapping, glad-handing and all the wonder things we do in a group that thinks they are on the top of the world. The operative word here is "thinks".

I found this quote interesting from the article in the Washington Post - "In a video salute to the RTCA, Onion fake-news anchor Brandon Armstrong (really an actor) praised recent accomplishments in TV news: "We tripled the number of LCD monitors behind us, and now there's a map you can touch with your hand." (Cue footage of CNN's Wolf Blitzer and John King.) Armstrong added, "I'm also told that radio still exists, which is charming."

Yes, radio news is not what it used to be, newsprint is leaving us, the "evening news" has turned into a "making up the evening news" to gain audience instead of reporting it and the list goes on. Global outreach is changing in at the same speed. The instant-access generation is here no matter what age you are. The news is coming right to our computer screens in real time. We don't need correspondents - we've got those experiencing the moment reporting to us through SMS, Twitter and the like. Just Twitter Iran and you'll be flooded with real-time correspondents and video photo uncut. Unfortunately, like the media, the missions world can ignore all these changes of reaching people in so many new mediums that we miss the opportunity and become irrelevant - like the "professional" RTCA crowd.

So what will it take in the decade of 2010 to wake us up and understand that the day of missionary service is changing, church planting is changing, booming radio from far away places with unfamiliar tongues is changing? The generation of innovation is already here and waiting and many are still wondering what we'll do and how we'll do it. We're wondering of new carpeting in the nursery will attract more young people and the world is dying for the Good News of Christ.

Post article -

Jon and Mindy Hirst said...

Dick, thanks for your comment. Yes the world is changing and it is hard for us to grapple with. One of the greatest challenges with change is that the new looks foolish until the old actually crumbles. The old hangs on and looks regal till the very end - then disappears.

There was nothing wrong with the old at all, but it just did not know when to give way to the next tool/service/idea/movement.