YES, I Text During Church

My family is on a journey.  We are currently searching for a new church.  So for the first time in years, I get to sit with the rest of the normal people, and not work.  I don’t have to set up, I don’t have to tear down.  I don’t have to worry about lighting or sound or if the program is communicating.  I don’t have to analyze if our people make others feel welcome.  Nobody, or very few people, know me.  And so I sit there.  And pretty much go crazy.

This year begins my 12th year in ministry.  That’s a really long time.  So I’m not quite sure what actual congregation protocol is.  If I was in a Baptist or Catholic church, I would most likely know to be careful because “Jesus is watching.”  But in the community church, everyone is accepted, no one is condemned.  There’s just love…love…love…until….

You pull out your phone.  Then you get the glares, the glances, the sneers, the disapprovals.   Honestly, I’ve seen some people act all crazy with their phone in church.  In fact, I’ve yelled at my kids for using their phones during worship and busted some friends texting other friends, from a phone hid inside of their purse.  I judge.  What can I say?  But Sunday I decided to use my phone as a distraction of my unhealthy need to serve and analyze and “consult” as I like to call it.  I launched my Bible App and looked up the scripture that was already on the screens.  Then I posted the Scripture that jumped out at me on Facebook so the world (well, the world that is mine) could be just as inspired.  For the record, I think I got 12 ‘likes’.

I made notes in my Notes App.  I watched my kids out of the corner of my eyes.  They were on their phones too.  But they weren’t looking up Scripture, no they were creating Vines and Texting.  So when the pastor got to the part of his sermon where I knew my kids needed to pay attention, I text them.  I asked them the same question that the pastor asked the congregation, but my kids responded to me.  And so I encouraged them, and threw a nugget of truth at them via text message. I connected with them the way I knew they would respond.

Now I know some you guys are thinking, “How wretched.  This mother encouraging such disgraceful behavior!”   While others are thinking, “So!?”

But I think this is a big deal.  It worked for me, but that doesn’t mean it’s okay or not okay.  Whether or not we use personal technology in church is a game changer.  It will determine the culture of how our churches grow and function.  It will determine who we reach.  It will determine how we connect.

What do you think?

Is it okay to text in church, even if there is no way to police what people are doing?

Should Cell Phones and iPads be discouraged  during service?

What is your church’s stance on personal technology during sermons?

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13 thoughts on “YES, I Text During Church

  1. I used my phone once, caught by my daughter and felt a little foolish. Seems like I should give a solid hour once a week to God, but I could be wrong. We’re all becoming more mobile so maybe it’s not realistic to put it away entirely.

    1. Thanks Molly! I tend to think we need a solid hour of un-interrupted God time. I’m just wondering if that’s a reality for this crazy upcoming generation of technology saavy kids! I’m not really sure how I feel…yet! Thanks for your thoughts and your comment : “caught by my daughter” made me laugh!

  2. We know a church plant that encourages it. You can text the pastor during the message w questions and he or she will address it. The week we attended our friend (the preacher that day) asked a question and asked people to text responses. They encourage looking up the passage, taking notes, etc. and acknowledge that we are a generation that multitasks and likes to put the “nuggets” or quotes or our reflections on twitter or Facebook and that’s ok with them.

  3. (That church plant is in MI).
    Also when we visited my sister’s (big) church in CA 6 years ago, they had keypads at every seat (1234 if I remember) and they always did multiple choice surveys or yes/no questions during the services and sermons. It was fascinating to get real time answers polling the whole congregation about whatever topic. Made things very relevant, got you very engaged.

    1. Agreed about sound bytes, I also think it wrongly encourages us as speakers to come up with points in 140 characters or less. Our desire to be tweeted could overshadow our desire to speak the words of God himself. I think it could work if its done right. But i think it needs to be addressed up front by the church and not ignored as if social media/technology doesnt exist. This isn’t your grandma’s church

  4. As a preacher, it can be unnerving when someone is using their phone. You don’t know if the person isn’t paying attention and is just playing around (which is distracting and disheartening to me as the speaker), or in some cases, we’ve been photographed and recorded and that’s not something I always want either. One 30 second clip (or one sentence quote) posted on fb might not fit the point of the message. You just hope it’s not taken out of context. But that’s the world we live in. Sound bytes…

  5. Well put it this way… I used to use a notebook to write down key sermon points. Now I use a Notebook. Same diff, as they say 😉
    I guess the main question is: Does it go further than paper or screen… into my heart?

  6. As the one who typically delivers the sermons from the platform, I guess I was a little shocked a few weeks ago when a key member informed me that they were very distracted by all of the cell phone activity going on around them. This person was very sincere and not “legalistic”. He wasnt distracted by Bible apps, he was distracted by facebook and people passing around photos. This happened in the balcony, I might add, which was not where he usually sits but now I know why certain people like to sit up there 🙂 lol… I will say that since then, I have started asking people, before I preach, to honor the Lord and honor their pastor who spent hours preparing the message by NOT being on any other app than a Bible app or a note taking app 🙂 So I would say that we should allow certain apps but discourage other apps. What are we really in church for anyways? We can do facebook and games any time but when we are in church we should be focused.

    1. I agree…what you are doing is exactly what I am talking about. Set a standard, be proactive so the church as a whole has clear expectations. But can a phone be a distraction in general? Should we be encouraging people to actually dig through the word in physical form on Sundays? I can see how that could be beneficial.

  7. My problem is that it’s so easy to get distracted if I do pull out my phone and once I’m distracted that’s it. I have a hard time focusing on the sermon again. That’s why I try to avoid using my phone during church.

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