What started as a friendly pre-game skirmish on two church twitter feeds, turned into something bigger. Something better.
Early New Year’s Eve morning, Bill Shiell, senior pastor at First Baptist Church of Tallahassee, posted a question to the twitter accounts of his church and to that of Auburn First Baptist Church: “So big game Monday. Who you got @auburnfbc @fbctlh ?”
“I usually don’t check our twitter account more than once or twice a week,” said Chad Parish, who manages Auburn First Baptist’s website and social media accounts. “But, I happened to see Bill’s tweet Tuesday morning and immediately thought, ‘Wow, this could be fun’.”
He searched for a humorous scriptural response that played on the theme of Auburn’s mascots and which also fell under twitter’s 140-character limit.
“I found a fitting passage and emailed our pastor, Tripp Martin, for his feedback. He thought it was a good idea.”
So, @auburnfbc tweeted a scriptural response: “…the eagle flew with its wings, and it reigned over the earth and over those who inhabit it.”
“It’s on,” replied Shiell.
By lunchtime, the churches’ friendly national championship twitter battle was raging.
Then, they raised the stakes.
“Our college minister Zach Allen and I thought it might be fun to wager a mission project on the football game. If we win, AFBC comes to help us. If they win, our students would do something for them,” said Shiell.
“We have a big outreach on campus in August called ‘Go Week’, plus plenty of other local mission partnerships to choose from. We also have a few Auburn fans in our church, and we thought they would love to be involved, as well.”
After connecting via email, the two pastors hashed out a plan.
“I talked with Leigh Anne Armstrong, our minister to college students,” said Auburn First Baptist’s Tripp Martin. “She liked the idea of a mission project. Bill and I agreed that a joint project would demonstrate solidarity and purpose between our congregations.”
Soon after, Auburn First Baptist tweeted the terms of the wager: “The winning team’s church shall plan a joint mission project, and the other church’s students shall travel to help.” And, First Baptist Tallahassee quickly accepted.
So, as Monday’s college football national championship game draws near (and as the concordance pages fly), know that two communities of faith—both Tigers and Seminoles—are using humor and a new-found friendship as impetus for doing some very good work together.
For more information, visit the churches online: First Baptist Church of Tallahassee and Auburn First Baptist Church. You can also follow them on twitter: First Baptist Church of Tallahassee, Auburn First Baptist Church, and Bill Shiell.
- On College Football, Tweeting, and ἐκκλησία | Tripp Martin [mp3 audio], 5 Jan. 2014
- Auburn, Tallahassee Churches Strike BCS Bet | Kristen Oliver (O-A News)
- First Baptist Churches of Auburn and Tallahassee trolling each other on Twitter with Bible verses leading up to BCS National Championship Game | The War Eagle Reader
- CBF Churches Scrimmage Over BCS Game | Jeff Brumley (Associated Baptist Press)
- Tallahassee, Auburn Churches Bet on National Championship After Twitter Feud | Jordan Culver (Tallahasee Democrat), 2 Jan. 2014
- Tallahassee, Auburn churches Bet on National Championship | Jordan Culver (Tallahasee Democrat), 3 Jan. 2014
- Churches Wage Friendly Twitter War Over BCS Championship Game | Carol McPhail (AL.com)
- Auburn-Florida State Game Begets Bible-quoting Feud Between Auburn, Tallahassee Churches | Greg Garrison (AL.com), 6 Jan. 2014
- 3 Lessons From Churches’ Twitter Dual Over College Football Championship Game | Steve Perky (minfrastructure.net)