Twittering in Church, with the Pastor's O.K.

Instead of reminding worshippers to silence their cell phones, a small but growing number of churches across the country are encouraging people to integrate text-messaging into their relationship with God

Matthew Gilson for TIME

Some members of Michigan's Westwinds Community Church find Twitter useful, others "kind of dumb."

John Voelz isn't trying to brag, but it's fair to say he was down with Twitter before most people knew it was a proper noun.

Last year, Voelz, a pastor, was tweeting at a conference outside Nashville about ways to make the church experience more creative — ways to "make it not suck" — when suddenly it hit him: Twitter. (See the 2009 TIME 100: Ashton Kutcher on the Twitter guys.)

Voelz and David McDonald, the other senior pastor at Westwinds Community Church in Jackson, Mich., spent two weeks...

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