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No Pecking Order on Social Media

A year ago, I met Toni Birdsong on Twitter. She mentioned that she was working on a book project and thought I might be interested in it because of my involvement with Internet evangelism.

She was right. @stickyJesus, how to live out your faith online, co-authored with Tami Heim was released October 26.

Last week, I had the opportunity to talk with Tami and Toni about the book and the expanding world of online ministry.

This is the first of a two-part interview, conducted by webcam over Skype.

Q: It’s an honor to meet both of you. The story of how God intersected your lives on Social Media and brought the book to life is fascinating.

Toni: I think one thing that happens on Social Media is that there are no titles.

Tami: Yes!

Toni: Had I known that Tami had a huge title, I probably wouldn’t be sitting here talking to her now.

We met for the first time in person at a meeting where she was speaking to a group of women leaders on Social Media. We had connected on Twitter. I knew that she worked at Thomas Nelson, and that was about it.

Thelma Wells was also speaking that night. Her theme was, ‘What God ordains, God sustains.’ You can hear that a million times, but unless you really hear it, you don’t get the weight of what that means.

For that moment, that’s what God spoke to me. He was up to something amazing.

So I went up to Tami after the meeting, no agenda, and said, ‘Hi, I’m Toni from Twitter,’ and she went ‘Oh-Oh-Oh,’ and we just had that instant connection. God had already started to do His divine work through our tweets and posts.

The night ended, though, and I still didn’t really know who she was.

Q: What happened next?

Tami: At 2am, the very next morning, the Holy Spirit gets Toni out of bed.

Toni: God got me up and I wrote this whole thing out about President Obama’s success with social networking and getting elected. I wrote about how Christians should be doing more with Social Media.

These thoughts were all new to me.

I’m a secular writer. I’ve made my living as a writer for Disney and as a newspaper reporter. I know about social networking. But I’m not in the church community as a writer. I’m just rabid about the Lord. I love His Word. And on this morning, God deposits this passion in me and…

Tami: And then she sends all those thoughts over to me on Facebook saying, ‘I know this will sound really crazy.’ I read it, Gordon, and realized she had just said everything God had put on my heart. I say, ‘OK, we have to meet.’

Toni: Now, I love telling this part of the story.

I thought our next meeting was to talk about Women in Christian Media.

And while all this is going on, my husband calls and says he’s having lunch with somebody and told them I was meeting with Tami Heim. The person says, ‘what is Toni doing with Tami Heim?’ (laughter) So my husband says to me, ‘Maybe you ought to Google her.’ So, I do. Wow! She used to be the president of Borders and the chief publishing officer of Thomas Nelson. What is she doing with me? I’m just one of million writers.

But God knew what He was doing.

Tami: And that weekend we meet at Starbucks. Seven hours later, we walk away with the holy assignment to get this book done. They always talk about the crisis of faith. Well, I took the leap with Toni and then God showed up with wings and got us to where we were supposed to be.

Toni: That’s what social networking does. I think social media cuts through all the junk, the pretense, the titles, the hierarchy and the pecking order. Who has time for that when we have a Kingdom to usher in? God has given us the green light to take off those masks and to get about His business.

If we trust Him, He will align us with others. We just need to show up. That’s what we did. We just showed up. Together. Faithfully. And we’ve been doing this for a year.

For if you remain silent at this time, relief and deliverance will arise from another place. And who knows but that you have come to your royal position for such a time as this? Esther  4:14-15

Tami: We know this book was something that we were supposed to do. But you’ll see, even on @stickyJesus.com, we have intentionally tried to minimize us. This is not about Toni and Tami.

Toni: We’ve been obedient and are thrilled to be part of a body and so many talented people that are starting to awaken to what God is doing online.

Q: Girl meets girl and they say YES to God’s plan. Tomorrow, part two of the Interview: @stickyJesus, how to live out your faith online. We will begin with the question “Who did you write stickyJesus for and why should they read it?”

  • Jesus was about connections, about crossing barriers, and about sharing stories. Social media allows us to do that exponentially. Social media is concerned with what you know and what you can share-not titles and resumes.

    It seems logical that if there is a space where millions gather each day, that Christians should be there too.

    A digital “Salt and Light” to the world.

    • You've captured the essence of the opportunity Rob. The simple truth we know is, "For God so loved the world…" And He's removing all boundaries for us to share that Good News more widely and rapidly than ever.

  • Karen

    I’m excited about this book. So many folks I know see social media as a waste of time and miss the value of SM as an opportunity to connect with and minister to others across the country and the world.

  • What you said is so true Karen. @stickyJesus will help demystify SM and open a lot of eyes, I believe. It's a unique time but we need to act now.

  • I tweeted to Tami and Toni to share my own personal journey: http://bit.ly/finishstory

    Hey Gordon, WE ought to talk about doing something together like Tami and Toni did!

    Tom@DrThomasHo.com

    • That's cool Thomas. I'm sure they will enjoy your story and God's impressions on you. Interesting suggestion. Praying!

  • Melissa

    Hi Gordon, thanks for always posting interesting and relevant information! I enjoy keeping up with your blog! I keep thinking more and more (and praying more and more) about how my role in communications can keep evolving… so many things that can be done on the web! (melissa.putney@efca.org)

    • Many, many thanks for your kind comments Melissa. You are absolutely correct when you say many things can be done. Doing the right things, that fit into God's plans is the challenge. He will show us the way and the tools, as we do our due diligence. Let's keep learning and experimenting together. I'm all in. What do you do for EFCA?

    • Melissa

      I'm a missionary with ReachGlobal (the missions org of the EFCA) and I do/coordinate communications for our Latin America region.