I have seen communities using Twitter as a hub lurch and change as they accommodate new ‘members’. This is inevitable, but avoidable.
However, I think these communities are not dissimilar to house churches……(I am not claiming Twitter is a religion)
There is a shared passion, a need to build friendships (fellowship) and share in learning and developing the passion the members share.
Now, house churches have been doing their thing for many many years and some lessons have been learned.
Below is an extract from a blog by Steve Atkerson which I have altered to fit a community using Twitter, rather than a house church.
Advantages of Having Elders
It would be a serious blunder to conclude that elders are unimportant. Some members are divisive, others promote unfounded and dangerous ideas, and still others pass others’ ideas off as their own. Too often, communities without ‘qualified’ (wise) elders fall in a type of malaise. No one takes leadership responsibility. Things just coast along. Study of the body of knowledge relating to the field is minimal. In many cases, it becomes a case of the blind leading the blind. Pooled ignorance in “teaching” becomes the norm. Evident misconceptions are overlooked. Social problems are not dealt with. The community can become vulnerable to wolves in sheep’s’ clothing.
Elders are what the fighter planes would have been to the bombers: protection. One important role that elders offer is defense against “savage wolves”. For instance, elders are men who can “refute” those who advocate ideas that are unsound.
A community is likely to attract every unattached heretic, rebel and social misfit in the county. Without elders willing to stand at the gate to intercept and deal with such persons, a community is particularly vulnerable to abuse, strife, frustration, and even disbanding.
Besides fending off wolves, elders serve the body in many other ways. In many respects, a community without an elder is much like a family without a parent. Worthy elders provide direction, teach, disciple, help the community achieve consensus, lead by example and guard the truth Elders are those of mature character who oversee, shepherd, teach, equip and coach. Every now and then they will need to call on the obstinate to wind their necks in a bit.
It is my suggestion that our lovely community of practise of educators using Twitter would benefit from us acknowledging those we believe are the natural ‘Elders’ and empowering them to watch over things a bit. And, by the way, I am not qualified.