THE Bishop of Chelmsford is encouraging church-goers to tweet during sermons to spread the word of God.

Stephen Cottrell has asked for people who attend church services to use the social networking website on their smartphones to quote parts of readings made by their vicar.

Along with this, the bishop will also be tweeting his sermons out over the Christmas period having already sent out a Twitter message summarising the Nativity story in 140 characters.

It is hoped the use of Twitter will help communicate Christian messages and act as a live update service from inside churches by using the hashtag #cswc.

A spokesman for the diocese said: “The Bishop of Chelmsford has taken to Twitter to spread the good news about Christmas.

“The diocese will tweet his Christmas day sermon @chelmsdio.

“The bishop is encouraging Twitter users everywhere to follow his example and tweet their vicar’s sermon live from inside the church.

“Churches across the country are using Twitter this Christmas as part of a campaign called Christmas Starts With Christ.”

The diocese also advised anyone who feels the urge to tweet on their phones during a sermon should inform their vicar before the beginning of the service.

Bishop Cottrell’s plea has been backed by vicars, including Keith Roddy, vicar of All Saint’s Church in Springfield, who said he thought it was a “good idea”.

Mr Roddy said: “It encourages people to listen and to respond to what is said during the sermons and if it means we can get the true message of Christmas and Jesus out, then that will be better too.

“People do different things in sermons. Some will take notes while others will listen.

“For me personally, tweeting is fine because to me it shows people are listening.”