How Can Apologists Best Use Twitter? 6 Ideas

When my father first released Evidence that Demands a Verdict in 1972 there was very little popular apologetics materials available, and so it was an instant success. But now with the recent updated edition, and the growth in the apologetics industry over the past few decades, there is an abundance of material. The challenge today is not the availability of material, but how to make the material accessible, interesting, and relevant to people through the variety of means that people access material.

While there are a variety of different social media platforms, Twitter is one of my favorites. Here are 6 ideas and principles for apologists to effectively use Twitter.

1. Have A Long-term Perspective. Effective ministry through Twitter is not built over night. It takes time to develop a unique voice and to grow followers. But here’s the bottom line: If you provide quality tweets, and stick with it over time, you can influence people positively with apologetics. Don’t give up if you don’t get instant followers. Unless you have an existing platform that you bring to Twitter, it will take time and commitment. But it can be done.

2. Be Positive. We live in an argumentative culture (and this can be especially true for apologists!). People seem to have no problem saying things on Twitter that they would never say in person. It’s easy to be negative. And yet people generally don’t listen to those who are critical, snarky, and condescending. While I have had my moments (and had to delete a few tweets), my goal is to be positive. Even when trolls hound me, I aim to respond with kindness and grace (see Proverbs 15:1). This is not always easy, which is why I give myself time before responding to negative critiques so I can hopefully respond in a positive manner.

3. Provide Value. There are endless voices competing for our time and allegiance. I want to use my time well. And I assume most people do also. My goal is that people come to my Twitter feed expecting to find apologetics material that provides value to their lives. Thus, I post articles that I find helpful, insightful quotes, quality resources, shout-outs to people who encourage me, and occasionally personal experiences or humorous incidents to (hopefully) give people a good laugh.

4. Champion Others. Not only do I want to provide value on my blog and Twitter feed, I want to help promote others who also provide value. That could certainly be you. I use the app Reeder app to follow dozens of blogs and articles every day on topics such as culture, leadership, youth, relationships, theology, and apologetics. If you write something of value, then I will likely tweet it. My goal is to help promote material that is beneficial, and I am more than happy to use my platform to champion others when they produce quality content. We apologists need to lock arms with others who share a common passion so we can have an exponential impact.

5. Don’t Over-Tweet. Few things frustrate me more (on Twitter) than people who over-tweet. In fact, the quickest way I unfollow someone is if they tweet too much. No one is that important that we need to know what he or she is doing every five minutes! Personally, I have found about 6-8 tweets per day to be a good balance. In his book Platform, Michael Hyatt encourages people to tweet about 10-12 times per day. If you have good content, then go for it.

6. Be Personal. Trust is one of the most important commodities today. Why should people trust you? In general, if people realize there is a real person behind the Twitter account, who has common dreams and struggles, and who is authentic, they will be much more likely to trust you. Don’t be afraid to share personal experiences from time to time—it will help humanize you. I enjoy reading occasional funny incidents, personal updates, and interesting experiences from people I follow. And I try to provide that for my followers as well. Also, I often add brief comments about blogs that I post so readers know what I think about it.

Twitter is a great form of social media. And apologists should use it as a medium to help positively advance the conversation. If you use it, and you want to genuinely influence people for good, then my encouragement is to have a long-term perspective, be positive, provide value, champion others, don’t over-tweet, and be personal. If you follow these ideas (or ones like it), you just might be surprised at how many people you can positively influence for the kingdom.

Sean McDowell is a gifted communicator with a passion for equipping the church, and in particular young people, to make the case for the Christian faith. He connects with audiences in a tangible way through humor and stories while imparting hard evidence and logical support for viewing all areas of life through a biblical worldview. Sean is an associate professor in the Christian Apologetics program at Biola University. He is the Resident Scholar for Summit California. Sean still teaches one high school Bible class, which helps him have exceptional insight into the prevailing culture so he can impart his observations poignantly to fellow educators, pastors and parents alike. In 2008, he received the Educator of the Year award for San Juan Capistrano, Calif. The Association of Christian Schools International awarded Exemplary Status to his apologetics training. Sean is listed among the top 100 apologists. He graduated summa cum laude from Talbot School of Theology with a master’s degree in theology and another in philosophy. He earned a Ph.D. in Apologetics and Worldview Studies in 2014 from Southern Baptist Theological Seminary. Traveling throughout the U.S. and abroad, Sean speaks at camps, churches, schools, universities and conferences. He has spoken for organizations including Focus on the Family, the Chuck Colson Center for Christian Worldview, Backyard Skeptics, Cru, Youth Specialties, Hume Lake Christian Camps, Fellowship of Christian Athletes and the Association of Christian Schools International. Sean has also appeared as a guest on radio shows such as Family Life Today, Point of View, Stand to Reason, Common Sense Atheism and the Hugh Hewitt Show. Sean has been quoted in many publications, including the New York Times. Sean is the author, co-author or editor of over 18 books including The Fate of the Apostles (Routledge, 2015); A New Kind of Apologist (Harvest House, 2016); The Beauty of Intolerance (Barbour, 2016); Same-Sex Marriage: A Thoughtful Approach to God’s Design for Marriage, with John Stonestreet (Baker, 2014); Is God Just a Human Invention? with Jonathan Morrow; and Understanding Intelligent Design, with William A. Dembski. Sean has also written multiple books with his father, Josh McDowell, including The Unshakable Truth, More Than A Carpenter and an update for Evidence that Demands a Verdict (2017). Sean is the general editor for The Apologetics Study Bible for Students. He has also written for YouthWorker Journal, Decision Magazine and the Christian Research Journal. Follow the dialogue with Sean as he blogs regularly at seanmcdowell.org. In April 2000, Sean married his high school sweetheart, Stephanie. They have three children and live in San Juan Capistrano. Sean played college basketball at Biola and was captain his senior year on a team that went 30-7.

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