Discussing
Handheld devices in church?

Adam McLane
April 8, 2009

I agree and disagree with you at the same time! "Should we use mobile phones in church?" Um, probably not. At the same time... should a dude talk for 45 minutes? Can't we get a commercial in there or something???

J L
April 8, 2009

I think this, blog of "top" reasons, and forgive me to saying this, but a little self indulgent."my church will never let this happen"? What is this? A baptist church seeing a guitar and hearing a song with a beat for the very first time? (I come from a baptist background) Having smartphones in church isn't the cause of ungodliness. If you have a problem with people getting distracted, show them to find joy in Christ. If they want to read their bible and take notes from their iPhone, let them. If you want more of explanation let me know..I'm on my phone commenting on this ridiculous blog.

Billy
April 8, 2009

Excellent post and points. We are setting up events and encouraging hand held devices be used in Church to the test the level of engagement within the next two weeks. I think it enhances worshipers engagement and will actively pursue it to that end. The next generation is expecting interaction and will gravitate towards those activities which provide it. Why shouldn't the Church interact with people using the medium and language they use? We train missionaries to do that for far away lands why won't we do the same for our next door neighbors?

Drew
April 8, 2009

Reading the Bible on a small screen leads you take verses out of context? Seriously? Come on now! Maybe we should go back to scrolls. If you have a tendency to read the Bible out of context, you're going to read it out of context if it's on your phone or in your giant family Bible.<br><br>Plus, who says using your phone as your Bible makes church less sacred? Is there a Biblical command? Are you suggesting that reading my Bible on my iPhone is less holy that reading my leather-bound Bible? Can my heart only worship when God's word comes to me in paper form? Don't get me wrong, I understand what you mean. We don't NEED all this technology to worship. As you said, a tech-free worship space is a great idea, as long as it is done for the right reasons. However, we must be careful using the worship "sacred." What makes something sacred has nothing to do with its modernness or popularity, but rather God's ability to use the device to bring us to worship Him. <br><br>A good reason for your argument, however, is definitely number five. We use our devices not so much because they are more convenient, but because they make us look cool or maybe simply because we worship our gadgets rather than our Savior. <br><br>The graph definitely is interesting. Thanks for providing it. What I want to know is who is reading the Bible on their mobile device from 3-6am Sunday morning? Who ever it is, is more Godly than me!

Bethanykj
April 8, 2009

I think some of the commentators in this thread misunderstand Nathan's intention. People seem to read his headings as major arguments and not read their refutation below. I think the way Nathan organized this discussion is a good representation of how people tend to react to new media - oh no! it will ruin us all because it makes us act THIS way. And then we soon realize that our old media also did that, and though it's not ideal, it's not the fault of the new medium.

Nbierma
April 8, 2009

Yes, I know holding contradicting thoughts in one's head is nearly impossible in the blogosphere! Though I should have made it more clear that these were possible objections I was trying to argue against. (Aquinas knew how to do this better: <a href="http://tr.im/irYH" rel="nofollow">http://tr.im/irYH</a> )

Josh Reighley
April 8, 2009

On the other hand --<br><br>It is confessional -- If the preacher says something to you that resonates, and you share it with your twitter followers -- it ratifies a belief. Is it really any different than taking notes? Except for the part where others can instantly read your notes? Most churches have no objection to note-taking.<br><br>It is also important to mention that Mars Hill has been using such devices to ask and answer questions -- This allows their pastor to address their objections and questions head on, in a nearly instantaneous method. <br><br>No, they shouldn't be browsing the web - but I don't think the web will ever be quite as interesting or provocative as a Mark Driscoll Sermon, so I don't think that is a big concern.

Brody
April 8, 2009

I'm torn with this one too. I'm from a very traditional family and prefer the traditional way of worship but I can see a place for this technology in the worship service. I do have the Bible on my PDA and I have only used it a few times. I did use it in church once or twice when the concept was still very new to me but quickly switched back to what was more comfortable for my own preferences. I now leave the Axim at home.<br>We offer a creative worship service at my church. The lights are turned down low and the music is loud. It feels more like a concert than a worship service to me but this same feeling is what attracts so many others. I've seen teens and adults texting each other during the few creative services I've attended. These people can hide in the back few rows of a darkened auditorium, waste an hour, and feel good about themselves for "attending church".<br>Worshiping God is what we make it. If your heart isn't in it, the style of worship service makes no difference. If you can honestly and openly worship the Lord with a PDA in one hand and a latte in the other, then by all means go for it. God knows where our hearts are.

John
April 8, 2009

If you don't give time for God, will he give time for you? Just a thought in God's Grace John

Eric
April 8, 2009

I think this is a very intelligent way of looking at both sides of the spectrum here. I think the biggest drawback to allowing such devices (at least in the smaller church bodies) is the distraction it could cause from the backlash of those who might have a hard time embracing technology. <br><br>Personally, I think I would try to leave it home, or at least turned off. I have ADD, and am easily sidetracked. I have a hard time some Sundays staying focused, no matter how engaging the service. But I would never judge someone for using something in a manner that would help them become closer to God. If someone is sitting in church surfing ESPN instead of becoming engaged in the service, is it the iphone's fault? I think not.

Mek
April 8, 2009

I like to bring the handheld to church. I like it because I can read the bible from handheld, I can also take notes from the sermon with the handheld. Carrying handbag + bible + notes + church bulletin + ... with 2 hands is quite messy. With the handheld, I can put it into my handbag. I don't need to carry the bible + notes ... I can set reminder in my handheld calender on the church event from the bulletin which I want to attend. I can write down the name and contact of the new person I meet into the handheld ... There is many good things about technology. The problem is not with the handheld but how the people use it.<br>

Emil
April 9, 2009

As a program developer I am always in the middle of using some sort of screen device. One point I think we all forget when we talk on this sort of subject is this...<br>Your device is where your business and freinds happens. The problem is that when you use it you have all the other stuff you could be doing. I find that I need to focus my attention and clear my thoughts when I work or I will start viewing email, visiting blogs, search stuff, checking on my accounts and the list is just endless. As long as people have screens and some sort of PC in fornt of them they will be challenged with this wandering mind set. Even if it is a bible app, because they will be wandering off on their own instead of plugging into the message of the church, united as Ephesian 4 talks about us being joined together. I believe that there are very few people in the church today who have the capacity to just tune out all this extra stuff. There is so much potential information just driving down the road and know that not one of us can drive to work without getting a terrible message or image from the world system. <br><br>That all said, I believe the question we should rather be asking is how should the church use this new technology with the help of the people to reach the sinners for God? Imagine a church service where the message is preached and then the pastor calls everyone to twitter their friends about it and then ask for testimonies from that? <br><br>The challgene here is not using the stuff, it is how to use it productively for God. What do you think?

Chris
April 9, 2009

As far as the extra credit question: It would be fine if traffic surged on Sunday mornings. Sunday morning is not the only time Sabbath services are held.

Robert Jimenez
April 10, 2009

You make some excellent points, not sure that I agree with all of them. I stop taking my hand held because it was more of a distraction that a help. But honestly, it's the future. It is not going to stop but only get worst.<br><br>As devices such as the kindle, and rumors of a Mac eReader, I think that it is possible that the printed bible will used less and less, especially in church.<br><br>I love my printed bibles, so I am collecting as many well made bibles as I can for fear that they may not be available in years to come.

Pcg
April 10, 2009

Personally, it doesn't work; it's far too easy for me to get caught up in the distracting bits of the technology of a handheld. This is also part of the reason I reject drawing an equivalence between a handheld and, say, electricity as both being problematic technologies during worship. How many people would be distracted by wondering about how electrons flow over copper? How many of the same people would be distracted when receiving an unrelated IM on their handheld in the middle of a delicate point the pastor is making? Or messing around with the settings? Or trying to fix their network connection when their online Bible is suddenly unavailable? It's not that technology cannot distract, it's that the complexity of the technology generally lends itself to higher "distractability".<br><br>So if it's a sliding scale, I would put handhelds well away from paper, watches and electricity, and put it in a slightly higher "distractability" category than Powerpoint. (Who else has been distracted trying to sing when the person running the slideshow botches things and skips a slide?) Remember, technology is not Bad. Misuse of technology — that is, any use that does not glorify God — is what we must be careful of. And some technologies are more apt to be misused than others; I would put handhelds as one of those that is more likely to be misused than other technologies.<br><br>And lest anyone think it's just about <a href="http://ESPN.com" rel="nofollow">ESPN.com</a> versus BibleGateway, it's not. I can load BG right now and find out how I "can send Bibles to China, Egypt or other areas of need right from [my] own home", right at eye level. Now we can argue HOW distracting that is, but I would suggest you cannot argue that it's not distracting at all, no matter how interesting the sermon might be.

Christian Beyer
April 16, 2009

I'm a week late and 7 dollars short but anyway:<br><br>I have an old (2001!) Palm pda that I pretty much only use for one thing these days; reading. I've got a bad habit of reading multiple books at the same time (which means I take forever to finish one) and the Palm will easily hold dozens, and keep my place too. It also allows me to access multiple translations of the Bible.<br><br>Since most mainline churches seem to hold to pre-ordained lectionary scripture readings, my Palm helps me to battle the prooftexting that is often forced upon us by the cut and pasted readings in church each Sunday. The church service is not just about worship, its also about learning. I think these tools are great (as long as you remember to turn the sound off).

Jessica Denise
April 17, 2009

I felt okay about this list until I read point #5. I am the type of person that loves a good long sermon that challenges me to think more about God and to make Him a bigger part of my life. I am also one who feels like closing my eyes and focusing helps me focus more on God and feel connected to the others around.<br><br>BUT, number 5. . . so true. I don't like to think of my electronics as idols, but the truth is that they can be. And that's hard because I feel like I'm so connected to people through them (I just moved from MI to FL), so it's hard. This gives me something to think about in my daily life too. Because God wants nothing to be an idol. He wants to be it. I think I just don't know how to make it not as important.

Dave Lloyd
May 10, 2010

Thanks for your post. I appreciate your love for the church and her Lord. On my blog I just posted on tweeting in church. I take a different position, but I do agree that we must be very careful where our attention is focused.

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