7 Ways Churches Can Use Twitter’s 280 Characters (Don’t Tweet Sermons)

7 Ways Churches Can Use Twitter’s 280 Characters (Don’t Tweet Sermons)

November 8, 2017 by

Big social media news this week as Twitter has doubled their standard 140-character limit to a whopping 280 characters. The company has experimented with this limit by giving select users 280 characters, but this week they rolled out 280 characters to everyone.

The result?

Lots of creative ways to use extra characters to make fun of having extra characters.

In true social media fashion, everyone is making a variation of the same joke, crafting an overly wordy rant or posting an excessively long quote just because they can.

Just because you have 280 characters doesn’t mean you have to use 280 characters.

Anytime social media makes a change (which is pretty much all the time), we’ll follow the usual pattern of grumbling, protest, mockery, and—eventually—acceptance. We’ll have to wait and see if changing Twitter’s most unique feature is a good thing or a bad thing.

How Should Churches Use 280 Characters?

But let’s cut to the chase: Your church can throw out 280-character tweets. How should your church wield this wordy new wonder?

We’ve got a few suggestions.

1. The 280-Character Joke Tweet

We’ve already talked about the 280-character mockery tweets. If your church likes to jump on a trendy joke bandwagon, this is it. Go ahead, get it out of your system. We’ll wait.

Can we move on to serious suggestions now?

2. With Great Power…

Let’s remember the immortal words of Spider-Man:

“With great power comes great responsibility.”

Just because you have 280 characters doesn’t mean you have to use 280 characters.

Don’t tweet an entire sermon.

Since its inception a decade ago, Twitter forced us to ruthlessly edit our thoughts (until we figured out how to thread tweets and could post blog-size rants in bite-size pieces). The new 280-character limit allows you to be lazy (in fact, it seems this change was specifically designed to discourage editing and make tweeting faster).

Don’t be lazy.

Continue to sharpen and refine your posts into the fewest words possible. Brevity is still the soul of wit.

3. Stick to One Idea

Twitter has often worked so well because a single tweet has communicated a single idea. Having twice the space will tempt you to share multiple ideas. That can work in some situations, but in general you’re going to want to keep your tweets focused.

Sometimes the best use of 280 characters is simply using 10 or 20 more than the old 140. Use a little extra space to complete your thought. But don’t be tempted to tack on another thought. You’ll muddle your message.

4. White Space

Twitter has never been a medium of white space. That changes now. 280 characters means full-on paragraphs, blocks of text that can send eyes skimming and moving on to the next tweet.

So give those characters space to breathe.

Put in hard returns.

Create white space.

It can create a sense of visual drama or even poetry, making your thoughts more engaging and readable.


One of the simplest ways to use the extra characters is to share more complete quotes. Anyone who has tried to share a historic quote or fit your pastor’s sermon zinger into a sensical tweet will be relieved.

Whether you’re sharing sermon snippets or Bible verses, use the extra space, but remember all the above advice: Ruthlessly edit, focus on one idea, and use white space.

Your quotes will be better for it.

(Wait, I can edit quotes? Yes: Use ellipses [the “…” ] to indicate when you’ve trimmed something from a quote.)

6. Inspiration Over Information

We’ve been beating the drum that churches need to share inspiration, not just information. That doesn’t change just because you have more space.

Don’t be tempted to cram your tweets with extra details just because you can.

Continue to focus on inspiring people. Once they’re inspired, they’ll find the information they need.

7. Change & Experimentation

Social media is still a new medium. It’s changing all the time. What worked yesterday doesn’t always work tomorrow. These suggestions on using 280 characters might be laughable in years, months, or even weeks (sorry, we tried).

The point is that you need to be flexible. You need to try new things. The brevity of 140 characters defined the medium and resulted in all kinds of creativity. Despite the complaints, the comparative verbosity of 280 characters will spark something new. Some experiments will work. Others won’t.

Try some things and see what works for you.

Short-Term Technical Note

Many Twitter services, including Buffer and HootSuite, haven’t adjusted to the new 280-character limit. They’ll probably get with the program quickly, but in the interim you might need to actually visit Twitter to tweet with the full character count. (Alternatively, Twitter’s Tweetdeck service has already adjusted to 280 characters and allows you to schedule tweets.)


Are you worried about bigger questions than 140 vs. 280 characters? We get it. Creating a social media policy might be a good place to start. Need more? Our Courageous Storytellers Membership Site is packed with practical resources that can help.

We’ve got social media resources, including:

  • Ready-for-you social media posts for a year.
  • 10 tips for better social graphics.
  • Review of top social media tools.
  • 22 creative Instagram ideas (with examples).
  • How to respond to technology trends with the gospel.
  • 10 social media strategies you might not have heard about.
  • Sample social media content calendar for Excel.
  • How to gain more followers.
  • Increasing organic reach on Facebook.
  • 14 examples of churches using social media well.

And lots more. Members get fresh content every month, plus access to an ever-growing archive. Courageous Storytellers can help you stay on top of it all as you tell your church’s story. Join now.

"I wish I had access to this when I started. I highly recommend this to everyone." -Steve Fogg

Photo by John Ragai.
Post By:

Kevin D. Hendricks

When Kevin isn't busy as the editor of Church Marketing Sucks, he runs his own writing and editing company, Monkey Outta Nowhere. Kevin has been blogging since 1998, runs the hyperlocal site West St. Paul Reader, and has published several books, including 137 Books in One Year: How to Fall in Love With Reading, The Stephanies and all of our church communication books.
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