Church Encourages Texting During Sermons

Discussion in 'Et Cetera, Et Cetera' started by Principessa, Sep 28, 2008.

  1. Principessa

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    Church Encourages Texting During Sermons

    By Tim Townsend
    St. Louis Post-Dispatch
    Wednesday, September 24, 2008

    O’FALLON, Mo. — The spotlight shone on the Rev. Mike Schreiner on a recent Sunday as he preached about who goes to heaven and how earthly relationships will translate in the hereafter.

    Off to Schreiner’s right, the steady glow of dozens of cell phones lit up the section where the teens of Morning Star Church sat listening to the sermon, thumbs furiously working little keyboards.

    High above the 700-seat sanctuary, Amie Haskins, 27, the director of worship, sat in the church’s control booth receiving their text messages on the church’s cell phone. She screened out some (most were about whether pets would be in heaven — a point she knew Schreiner would be addressing later in the sermon), and typed others into a computer that was connected to Schreiner’s laptop next to him.

    During Schreiner’s 30-minute sermon, Haskins received 35 questions.
    — When we are in heaven, will we be able to touch our relatives still on Earth?
    — Will we look the same, or have new bodies?
    — What happens to the baby when a mom has an abortion? Does it go to heaven?
    — Will our friends who have not officially accepted Christ within a church environment still be accepted in heaven if they lived a life pleasing to God?
    — I’m wondering (and this will sound awful) about people I don’t care to bump into in heaven. Will strained relationships here be awkward there, too?
    — When we get to heaven, how will we know what Jesus, or even God, looks like? Could they look just like everyone else?

    Schreiner answered just three of them, but the church’s embrace of texting — this was the third week of its experiment — has already improved the dialogue, according to Schreiner, and energized many of Morning Star’s younger members.

    “I love it,” said 14-year-old Kailey Elfstrum, who had her text all ready to go even before Schreiner’s sermon began. “You get to ask the pastor anything you want while he’s talking.”

    Her friend Maddie Howard, also 14, agreed. “You don’t want to admit your sins to the rest of the church, but this way you can still ask something important,” she said.

    For some time now, churches have used text messaging to promote social events, keep their various ministries networked and even remind the absent-minded that they’re late for church. But now pastors, who for years have been asking people to turn off their cell phones during services, are increasingly asking them to do the opposite.

    Mid-sermon texting is a way for pastors to engage their flocks with technology many of them — especially those under 30 — are using every day.

    “Lots of people say this is cool or edgy, but that’s not what it’s about for us,” Schreiner said. “It’s really about staying true to our mission to meet people where they are.”

    Set in a field amongst the St. Charles, Mo., sprawl, Morning Star Church is part of the United Methodist Church, but it looks and feels more like a hip, contemporary evangelical congregation.

    On this Sunday, Schreiner, 41, wore his embroidered shirt untucked as he paced the stage with a tiny headset microphone. Up in the production booth, Haskins — dressed in jeans, Tina Fey-style glasses, blue canvas sneakers and pink socks — directed three technicians manning the lights and changing Scripture passages that appeared on large screens above the stage.

    Some people watched Schreiner on wide-screen plasma monitors from the church’s Java Bar — a coffee shop in the lobby. The church brings in about 1,500 people over three services each weekend.

    Morning Star’s music director, Mark Roach, said he saw texting used recently during a worship service at the Church of Rock Creek in Little Rock, Ark. Another staff member, Ryan Redding, said he’d visited Mars Hill Church in Seattle, which was using texting at a youth service. “It was sort of a free-for-all,” said Redding. “We’re trying to use it in a more focused way.”

    Windsor Crossing Community Church in Chesterfield, Mo., tried using congregational texting about six months ago to take a poll during a worship service, said programming assistant Mike Veldman. He said the church hadn’t yet experimented with questions for the pastor, though it might.

    The Rev. Richard Wentz, the Church of Rock Creek’s worship pastor, said so far only the church’s senior pastor, the Rev. Mark Evans, feels completely comfortable using the technology in real time. Evans was traveling and unavailable for an interview, but Wentz said the pastor likes to receive text questions in the middle of his sermon and tries to weave them into the message as he talks.

    At Morning Star, Schreiner and associate pastor the Rev. Keith Scarborough have each answered text questions in the past few weeks. Schreiner prefers that the questions remain on his laptop when they come down from the control booth. Scarborough likes them popped on the big screen for all to see.

    For more senior members of the congregation whose thumbs are less dextrous, or perhaps arthritic, Morning Star also allows its members to question the pastor the old-fashioned way — with forms placed in the weekly bulletin they can write on and submit in the collection plate.

    But it’s not just Morning Star’s young members who are pleased with their church’s experiment. “I think it’s neat,” said Bill Sullivan, 60. “I hope they keep it up.”

    Mike O’Brien, 44, said his 13-year-old daughter and his wife have texted questions to the church’s pastors. “It beats walking out of there with a question burning in your head and not having it answered,” he said.
    Schreiner said that after just three weeks of taking text-message questions, he can feel a difference in his preaching.

    “It gives me a little more of a teaching role,” he said. “It gets back to Jesus Christ and the Sermon on the Mount where I picture Jesus having a conversation with the people. With texting, it becomes much more of a dialogue.”
     
  2. jason_els

    jason_els <img border="0" src="/images/badges/gold_member.gi

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    Technicians? Directors of Worship?? Control booths?

    Americans are the most bizarre people in the world when it comes to religion. We turn everything into a production number.
     
  3. Principessa

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    I don't like contemporary worship services. If you need a rock band, praise dancers, and texting to get you into church then maybe you don't need to be there. :cool: Don't get me wrong I love rock music, I've seen Springsteen in concert 6 times. But I don't need to hear a wicked drum solo or guitar riff to get the holy spirit. :cool:
     
  4. jason_els

    jason_els <img border="0" src="/images/badges/gold_member.gi

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    Rock bands? Praise dancers? Where are these places? I've never heard of praise dancers. Are there light shows and multi-media displays as well? I've never seen these sorts of services. The most I've seen are those shows on the Holy Roller channel but I haven't seen liturgical dance on those shows.
     
  5. Principessa

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    *BUMP*
     
  6. EagleCowboy

    EagleCowboy Well-Known Member

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    If you've ever seen that movie, "Leap Of Faith", that's what it is. Really good movie and I have been to sermons that were just like that. Interesting to say the least.

    My little bro is finishing up his PhD in Theology and planning on going on the road with a very old friend of ours to do the evangelist thing. I'm going to have to ask him about this. Maybe I'll sit in the congregation and text him some real whoppers!! :firedevil:

    Anyone got any questions about it they want me to ask him about?
     
  7. B_Hickboy

    B_Hickboy New Member

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    God hates cellphones and the fags that use them.
     
  8. Principessa

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    Why does God allow mean people to have career, relationship; and financial success?
     
  9. Viking_UK

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    I bet that one would be screened out, njqt.

    Me, I was raised in true Calvinist tradition, no musical instruments, no razzle-dazzle, just pure religion. I've always thought that if you need to put on a show to get people into your church that there was something missing from the message.
     
  10. hot-rod

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    They're all cults, for God's sake!
     
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