Worship and the Digital Age…

cell phone in churchWe live in a different world these days. I can remember a time, not too long ago, that cell phones were forbidden in worship. We would look askance at someone who had their cell phone out while worship was going on. “How rude!” we used to think. I don’t think that anymore. Cell phones are not just cell phones anymore.

I say that because this past Sunday I got tweeted during the service. Not only did I get tweeted, but I got facebooked, too (Is “facebooked” a word?). In case you’re wondering what I’m talking about, people were actually “tweeting” and posting on Facebook quotes from the message Sunday. One person “tweeted” (if you don’t know what “tweeted” is, you’re obviously not on Twitter), “Giving generously is a core value of a disciple of Jesus Christ,” while another person posted on Facebook, “Generosity is not measured by a particular dollar amount, but by the attitude with which we give.”

I’m most impressed by two things: First, that they were actually listening, and secondly, that they got the quotes right. I’ve discovered in 23 years of preaching that it doesn’t matter nearly so much what I say as it does what the congregation hears because often what I say and what you hear are two different things. Sometimes it happens because I don’t communicate well. Other times, it happens because the congregation isn’t listening. Most often, it occurs because the Holy Spirit does the interpreting. Remember, there are always three actors in every sermon—the preacher who prepares the message, the person who hears the message, and the Holy Spirit who carries the message.

I’m also impressed that the message of the Gospel can be instantaneously sent beyond the walls of the church building. Twitter and Facebook make it possible for my message to be a part of the social network of every person present who communicates via either of those media. That’s absolutely incredible! What it does is multiplies the reach of my message exponentially. That’s a humbling thought, and makes it that much more necessary to be careful in the words I choose to communicate the Gospel. One wrong word, either misspoken or misunderstood, can make all the difference in the world. But, still, Twitter and Facebook (as well as other forms of social media) can be wonderful vessels for sharing the Good News of salvation in Jesus Christ.

So, bring on your cell phones. Oh, but do silence them (we won’t ask you to leave like they do at the cinema) so as not to disturb your neighbor, and please, don’t play cards or Angry Birds. You might also keep the selfies to a minimum, too. But, please, use it for your bible, “tweet” me, or Facebook me, but whatever you do, share the Gospel. That’s what disciples do.

Until next time, keep looking up…

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