Electronics in Church

22 May

Okay, I have chosen a topic without a Scripture to guide us.  Yet, the whole counsel of Scripture guides us always, in everything, doesn’t it?

So, I will, with fear and trepidation, take on this topic.  I do so as a “bridge” person.  I am someone who is almost ready to join the seniors group at church (my 55th birthday is next month).  But I am also someone who has drunk deeply from the well of the current technology, both at work and in my homelife, for the past twenty years.

I know that technological advancement is not going away.  In fact, it will probably just become more and more a part of our lives.  Many young people today will have many, many more experiences online in their lifetimes than they ever have in person!

That said, which applications are fitting for use during a church service, given that most churches have wifi now and we are technologically able to camp onto the signal during a service?  What should we use that signal to do, in order to glorify our Lord during that service?

The first principle we all have to remember is grace.  This applies both to those of us with electronics in church and to those of us without electronics in church.  We extend grace to our fellow churchmember, especially if he is of a different age group and there might be something we misunderstand about him and his practices.  We extend grace as Christ has extended grace to us.

People who have not used technology may not understand it.  If they are behind someone who is using his tablet to look up Scriptures and take notes during a service, it is possible that his Facebook page or text message file will update via a banner across the top of his tablet.  That banner does not mean that that young man is on Facebook or texting during the service.  It is merely a notification telling him to check those applications later.  We do well to assume the best of our brother unless we have incontrovertible evidence to the contrary.  We especially do well to assume the best of our brother if we don’t understand his technology. 

On the other hand, a large laptop or fullsized tablet can be distracting to the person behind us if we continually scroll back and forth between applications.  So it is necessary for the person with the electronic device to pay attention to the light and flashes from his screen and how they are likely affecting the people around him.

For myself, I have settled on the following for use during church services: 

1)    I have a bookmark to the King James Version of the Blue Letter Bible on my iPad.  I use that Bible during the service instead of carrying one.

2)    I use my notes application on my iPad to take notes.

3)    I have in the past googled words and terms I did not understand during a sermon, but Pastor has convinced me to put those in my notes to look up later (or ask him about them).  The reason for that is not to say that using Google or looking up words during a service is wicked.  It is just to minimize distractions to my brother sitting behind me!

4)    I have in the past received texts containing study aids for the passage we were considering.  These came from a friend who was elsewhere in the auditorium.  If we had been sitting near each other, we might have whispered the same information.  Texts are certainly less distracting than whispering.  However, I have concluded that the study aids from a friend are, again, something that can be written down in the notes and passed later.  Again, not because texts with study aids related to the sermon are wicked, but because it is just better to minimize distractions to others.

5)    I must admit I did, once, open a Facebook post during a sermon.  It came from my family in Michigan and concerned a family emergency.  I wrote a three word answer and went right back to the sermon.  My jury is out on that one.  I could have waited.  But it was the equivalent of taking a phone call during church when there is a crisis.  Some will do it; others won’t.  I just know the overriding principle is to consider the effect of our actions on our brothers and sisters around us!

 

I hope that these ideas, from my experience, might help you to embrace electronics in church in a way that honors the Lord.  The conversation is far from over.  In fact, it is just begun.  I would welcome your feedback!

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