Wednesday, November 17, 2010


Today, a favorite professor of mine was talking in reference to cell phones in church and said,"would any of you who work at churches consider telling your congregation to leave their phones in the car?... I mean, I want to go vertical." While I completely understand his point of view in that we need to take church time to focus our attention above and not on our cellphones, the comment stirred up some already-brewing thoughts and questions in my head.

If I am sitting in a service listening to my pastor, and something really speaks to me, then I may lean over to my friend sitting next to me and simply say a sentence or two affirming what has just been said. I won't have a full on conversation by any means, but I may say a few things. Also, to help me focus and engage, I am probably going to have a Bible and a notebook in front of me to take notes.

I have yet to find anyone that has a problem with either of these things. Most church folks of all ages will do both at some point. However, if I do any of this on my cell phone, some people get quite upset.

With all due respect to the semi- technology- illiterate individuals, I wonder if their hatred for this is due to the amount of effort, thought and time that it takes them to text, tweet, type or update. What may take them 10 minutes of complete focus is something I can do in about 15 seconds without much thought- just like leaning over and saying something to the person next to me. Some think that by picking up my phone I must've been completely disengaged and distracted. But what they may not realize is that while they were writing down that quote from Pastor and hoping that they would remember to tell it to Aunt Sue later on, I just posted that same quote to Aunt Sue's "wall," put it as my "status", and "tweeted" it allowing her and potentially 700 of my "friends" and "followers" to see it. All in about 15 seconds.

A few weeks ago on a Saturday night, I was sitting around a bonfire with a group of friends talking about the Lord. One specific discussion, we went around the circle recalling some of our favorite moments in the glory of the Lord. The following morning, I am sitting in service and my pastor starts talking about glory. Then, his first point is "recall the stories." Immediately I made the connection to the previous nights conversation, reached for my phone, and sent a quick text to one of my friends saying "At church this morning he's talking about glory...First point? Recall the stories. Reminds me of last night :)" She texted back saying, "Love it:)" to which I said, "Me tooo." That was it. It was encouraging for she and I both for me to send that quick text. Had almost anyone been sitting next to me, for me to lean over and quitely say, "wow, thats awesome! my friends and I had this conversation just last night!" they would have been completely okay with that and even encouraged by it, but some would've had a serious issue if they had seen me pick up my phone.

A couple weekends ago, I was at a conference in Baltimore. Throughout it, I "tweeted" some of the awesome stuff that was going on... here are some of the tweets:

>>> Tune in now. This is awesome in the Lord.

>>> @Amanda_Fisher is in awe of the beauty of Christ revealed through laid down lovers. Whoa. My heart= encouraged.

>>> "The best thing about God is, uhhh, God."-Leif Hetland

>>> Beach balls a.k.a. "joy bombs" are flying through the crowd this morning as we sing the Happy Song. Legit. :)

>>> Ok...If these songs are the next Jesus Culture album, I'm already a fan.

>>> "It WAS God! It was God! It was God! It was God!" - Randy Clark. The Lord just gave him a word that 20 people were gonna get healed...

Each of these "tweets" were during services. They automatically post to my facebook as well so though each probably only took a few seconds for me to post, hundreds could potentially see what God was up to in Baltimore while they were going about their everyday business. Because I provided the link too, many were able to tune in to the live feed of the services. Some of my "friends" and "followers" are not believers. I cannot help, but to think that sometimes them seeing a status or tweet about the goodness of my God, just might plant a seed.

Is limited cell phone use in a service a problem? Is it really different than saying something real quick to the person next to you?

For some people, maybe so. Maybe for them to use their phones during services means that they are connecting back to all their issues that they should put aside when they are taking time to focus on the Lord. Maybe for others, its a bad idea because it takes them a long time and lots of concentration to do much with their phone. But for some, like myself, its a useful part of my corporate worship experience.

Now- don't get me wrong. I think there are times when it is awesomely important to remove all sources of communication and technology and get away from it all. However, we must recognize, that a large percentage of people simply aren't going to completely shut off their technology every week.

With a technology driven society, we have got to figure out how to connect effectively. Disregarding a huge part of people's lives is simply not going to cut it.
There are many options of how to intertwine technology, specifically social networking into church services, but this blog is already long enough.

So I leave you with these questions- should we suggest to a technological generation to put away their phones altogether, when we know they will probably only switch it to vibrate and will probably use it once or twice during a service anyway? Or should we teach them how to weave their relationship with Jesus into every aspect of their lives, including all areas of communication, and to use their technology effectively to express their faith?