Technology has really impacted the way that we interact with the world. It has made those who are far away more accessible, given us access to a near endless supply of data that was simply not around twenty years ago, and allowed for people to express themselves in whole new ways with new audiences.
At the same time, with all of the good that it brings into the world, it has brought about issues that we have to learn to work with or overcome. The number one issue for pastors on Sunday morning or at youth group on Wednesday nights is the distraction of cell phones.
The question for pastors to struggle with is, “how does the church deal with it?” Know that whatever you say should be thought out, with a purpose, and realize that there will be consequences.
1) The Simple Solution.
The quick solution is to have everyone turn off their phones so that they will not be distracted nor will they distract others. It makes sense that we want to provide an environment that is both honoring to those that are coming to hear the Gospel and to the pastor who is delivering a message inspired by the Holy Spirit for his flock.
When we worship our Lord and Savior, we do not need a phone’s ringer going off. So they create PowerPoint slides before church starts to or a quick video to remind congregation members.In fact, several artist people have become very creative with these reminders.
You can actually buy a quick photo to put in your slideshow or a video to play before the service begins or make your own original video that is funny but gets the point across.
2) The “Everyone-Is-Welcome” Solution
The easy solution is to do nothing at all and let people use their phones however they want. The idea here is that people are adults and should take responsibility without someone telling them what to do.
At the same time, you want to create an environment that will be a draw to those who have not previously heard the Gospel for all it is worth. You want to pick your battles and cell phones just do not compare to pushing new believers and the lost that attend your church to read their Bible, serve the poor, and understand that God has something better for them.
3) The Techie/Hipster Solution
Several churches are going for a different approach that actually goes a step beyond not telling people to put away their phones, to actually encouraging them to use it. Some youth groups and churches have actually made games out of polling the audience with questions, encourage the congregation to tweet Bible verses straight from the pews with their Bible apps, or push for online giving with a secure electronic payment for their tithes and offerings.
This does have the risk of random phone call disruptions, but may be the most simplistic and effective evangelistic tool to reach hundred or thousands in your community on any given Sunday, if done right.
It would seem that there is no one correct solution for the whole church.
What solution do you currently use (or will adopt now) and why?