A few years ago, I was going about my own business of preaching the Sunday sermon when I kept noticing someone in the congregation playing video games on his father’s cell phone. I won’t go into all the details, but it was really distracting (to both me and our congregants).
After it was all over, some of the church leaders decided to take action against such shenanigans. We wanted to avoid any future distractions of this ilk. After all, it’s God’s Word being preached here.
We decided the best course of action would simply be to place a permanent announcement in the bulletin. The announcement politely suggested that cell phone usage during worship was less than acceptable and that all such devices be powered down by kick-off time (I mean, opening prayer).
This seemed to work like a charm for a few weeks. Then, my wife and I took a trip out of state. During our travels, we worshiped with some friends.
“We were slightly blown away when it came time for the sermon.”
We were slightly blown away when it came time for the sermon. Lo and behold, the preacher suggested that everyone take out their cell phones, pull up their Bible apps, and click on the text for the morning.
My wife and I looked at each other rather sheepishly as we pulled out our antiquated paper Bibles. Everyone around us was reading the Scripture on their phones and electronic tablets while we were still paging through our clunky Bible books looking for the appropriate verse.
Where policies go to die…
When we got back home, the first thing we did was reverse our new policy. The permanent announcement disappeared from the bulletin. Such malfeasant things were never mentioned again.
This poignantly brings up an ongoing point of contention in the church. We seem to hate new things. We also seem to hate change. Since new things ARE change, I guess they go hand in hand.
While I’m part of that “hate change” crowd, I’m not sure why. We use these things outside of worship like it’s life and death. Why would we leave them at the door (so to speak)?
I suppose an argument could be made that a ringing cell phone during service time would be rude, distracting, and unholy. But that’s why we have airplane mode (I wonder if we could get Apple to change that to Worship Mode).
We really have no good excuses for our rejection of all things new. Most of us are simply old fuddy-duddies and can’t help ourselves.
Another thing that out-of-state preacher did was preach from his iPad. I really wanted to try that, but I just couldn’t bring myself to part with my Bible. Ultimately, I gave it a shot. It took a few weeks, but I finally got used to it. Just between you and me however, I still print up my sermon outline and put it in my brief case. I just don’t trust it yet. Who knows when the battery will die?