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?



Amy said...

Amen! I love tweeting and facebooking especially when I am at conferences. Bottomline it's a judgment when someone makes an assumption about where your focus is when they see you use your phone. They don't know what you are doing or where your heart is.

Good thoughts, Amanda!

Jessica H. said...

Well, the truth is that we'll always be biased one way or another. If you text/tweet during conferences and services, you'll tend to see the positives greater than the negatives and vice versa. For me it's a lot like the issue of "drinking wine in public places." I won't do it just because I know it may cause offense to a brother or unbeliever. Then again, you have the Christians who say, "They don't know my heart. My heart is pure so I'm gonna drink in public regardless!" It's just one of "those" areas. Paul didn't eat meat in front of his vegetarian buddies, but I'm sure he doggy-bagged it and greatly enjoyed it when he got home. Truly, all things boil down to love. If my pastor asked me to leave my phone in the car, out of respect, I would. It would be rebellion otherwise. If I'm in a church where I do sense that people would potentially be bothered by my texting, I'd respect that. If I really felt the Lord wanted me to "tweet" or text something for whatever reason, I'd wait or just excuse myself. I'd rather inconvenience myself than potentially distract someone or cause them to see me as a "rebellious teenager who ain't listening." But then, if I'm at an event where no one gives a rip, yes, I'll text. It's a matter of your heart. There's my two or.....twenty cents.

Fisher said...

thanks Amy!

and Jessica, thanks for your twenty cents- a few weeks ago I found myself taking in my regular Bible as well, and felt like I was not even supposed to use my phone that week for that very reason... though sometimes Its fine. You're right, it definitely just is one of those things! And one day I sat in a class at church where like 5 people older than me were on their phone Bibles and all us younger ones were using hard copy Bibles. that one made me laugh. :)

Anonymous said...

You have some good points there. I think this

makes some good points too about our cell phone use in relation to other people.

Jake T. said...

Sunday, December 4th, 2010... in a church in Western Pennsylvania:
Pastor is on a roll. Preaching. Teaching. Glorifying God with the
word God placed on his heart.
YEP! Cell Phone Rang... not once.
not twice. But three times.
Yes, there are 99% of text-sauvy ppl who can make their phones silent.
But in one instant second, 800 ppl were taken from HIS word, to a cell phone somewhere in the congregation.

Punish them all to silence the one?
I don't know. But it was certainly distracting.

Anonymous said...

The question is, Whose call do you want to pick when you are in church. Do you wanna put God on hold and speak to someone while you are in church or pay 100% attention for 60 minutes when you are at church?

The concern most people have is not the cell phone or the use of it, but the crazy ring tone that breaks the peace.

Like Paul says "be everything to everyone". If the church is not quite comfortable with a cell phone, then i would rather not use it

HuEmanity Unlimited said...

A thought for reflection: Connectionism.

Rhawnie Sue said...

funny how we can think the worst about our family. As I was reading your post I thought, the professor probably is speaking to the assortment of ringers that randomly go off during service and not to anyone who would be glorifying God with technology. Perhaps he has knowledge of one of the roaring lion's more simple snares for the "young" whereby a forgotten cell phone will begin to ring loudly right at the very moment a truth has begun to be spoken that may bring needed light into a shadowy place. We have all witnessed this scene, the individual is distracted and begins frantically to fumble for their phone with embarassment. The persons near them become distracted by the "cool ringtone" point was only that no defense is needed for those who are not guilty.