The Magazine of The Evangelical Lutheran Church in America


Texting during worship

How do we deal with this change in etiquette?

Ever noticed someone texting during worship? I heard about it when someone complained about a member typing on a smart phone during my sermon. While I appreciated the concern for respect in worship, neither of us knew the tweet was about our awesome service and an invitation to friends to come next week.

© istockphoto.com/serdar415How do we deal with this change in etiquette? Follow the example of Martin Luther. First, worship in the language of the people — that now includes text messaging. Set guidelines so people know your preferences.

Second, let technology be the servant of the gospel, not the focus. Offer the invitation to start faith conversations using social media during worship. Post a question to the church Facebook page and invite the pastor and community to share.

Third, be patient. As a community we need to be understanding of those around us who differ. Listening, loving and learning from each other can create authentic worship and, in the end, allows us to speak the gospel to everyone, even with a tweet.


Posted at 10:22 am (U.S. Eastern) 10/20/2010

I still find it rude. I don't generally text anyone while I am engaging with other people. Why should it happen when I am engaging with God? It's hard enough to make some quiet time in this world without taking a cell phone to church with me.

Karin Graddy

Karin Graddy

Posted at 9:24 pm (U.S. Eastern) 10/26/2010

If you were listening to a great sermon, might you scribble some notes on the back of the bulletin?

If the preacher touched your heart with her message, might you send her a note of thanks?

If an event was mentioned in the announcements that  would be an excellent opportunity to finally invite your friend to join you at church, might you not make a note to yourself to talk to that person?

If I choose to use my cell phone to quickly text those notes to myself or others, I would hope that no one sees my actions as rude.

If we see someone sitting in a pew with their eyes closed and head bowed, we assume they are praying, when in reality they may be mentally creating their shopping list for after church or even sleeping. But in the context of the pew, we tend to offer them the benefit of the doubt.

Might someone be texting a post to facebook that their pastor is wearing two different colors of shoes? Maybe. But is that guy in the pew over there reallly praying or counting the minutes to kickoff?

Let's give the same benefit of the doubt to our brothers and sisters in Christ that may choose to use new technologies as legitimate, faithful parts of their Sunday morning experience.

Note: Karin Graddy edited this post at 9:27 pm on 10/26/2010.

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