I hadn't really followed this incident, and only looked into it after encountering Tim on Twitter this week. Initially, I had imagined it to be an insubstantial idea, something novel just for the sake of a quick headline, but the fact is that there's nothing particularly controversial about it at all. Essentially, the proposal was to tweet the communion service (ie. broadcast the liturgy by text-based messages), and then, at the appropriate moment, for participants to take bread and wine simultaneously, in their own locations. A bit unusual, perhaps, but hardly a threat to the theological fabric.
A huge amount of hot air (metaphorically, as most of it is in type) has now been generated by the hordes who have leaped to condemn this idea. What is it about columnists, bloggers, and all those who make it their business to "comment", that the default position has to be "this must stop"? A little more research and reflection often generates something less emotional, but more interesting.
Let's take the Twitter communion as an example. The objection seems to be that communion is an act of fellowship (among other things) and should be celebrated by Christians in gathered proximity. Fair enough. But is it really justified to go straight from there and condemn the idea as wicked, heretical, or stupid (all of which have been said)? Ideally, yes, communion will be celebrated by a group of people gathered together in the same room (I don't think, correct me if wrong, that Tim is proposing to abolish this). But sometimes, for a whole host of reasons which I won't list (it's Friday evening, work them out for yourself), that just isn't possible or isn't happening for people. Why not provide an alternative environment for a small number of people to take communion who otherwise wouldn't be able to?
You can read Tim's reasoned justification of the idea here. But I back him because the church needs people to experiment, particularly in the light of our changing ways of doing things (see my earlier post here). Some experiments won't work, but that's OK - for every successful pioneer there are probably dozens of heroic failures. The Methodist Church knows all this - that's why it has endorsed Fresh Expressions - but sometimes it can be hard to break the mould.