That is the question. At least that’s the question raised by the twitter feed from my treasured old seminary, Moore College (@MooreCollege if you want to follow them!)
As a MTC grad and preacher I am not real keen on people tweeting during church myself. So no thanks! Afterwards OK.
- @thebiblebasher – I’m pro-sermon tweeting. A 140 character concise tweet is a sign God’s word is being digested… much more encouraging than people passively sat there like they’re at the movies.
#readmarkandinwardlydigest [over 2 tweets]
- Me: Maybe, but a sermon tweet gives others the impression they can do whatever on their phones (maybe not prob at MTC)
- @shanerogerson – what about note taking and doodling, is it any different ? Lloyd Jones preferred no sermon notes
We all want people to read, mark, learn and inwardly digest the preached Word of God, as Cranmer’s old collect memorably said! And clearly, people learn in different ways. And people also get distracted in different ways.
So as we use technology to take notes or help us reflect further on the sermon (whether old technology like a pen and pad, or new technology like a smart phone), we all need to think whether our use of technology distracts others or inadvertantly gives them permission to focus elsewhere (as they see my doodle, or use of Twitter).
And speaking personally, as a new user of a smart phone, I can see how easy it is to get distracted. During a sermon, I remember a task I need to do, so I take my phone out to list it in my task manager app (Wunderlist, if you were wondering), to get it out off my mind and refocus on the Word. But then I notice I have some new messages, and get tempted to read them… Know what I mean? Maybe the novelty wears off, and all you experienced phone users are no longer distracted!
Remarkably I have even found myself justifying this, because in my case I already heard the sermon at an earlier service I attended that day. Note to self: what about the bad example I am setting for others? Second note to self: even if no one can see you, don’t you realise God’s Spirit might help you get something you missed the first time!?
On the other hand, clearly one can use a smart phone to follow the Bible electronically, take notes, and so forth. OK, my tweeting friend, Andy, got the discussion back on track…
@thebiblebasher – the challenge is how we use tech to build & glorify, rather than being anti. It’s Gods gift to us.
Fair enough. However, I had another concern. It wasn’t just about using technology for note-taking to aid one’s own concentration or reflection or memory.
The original tweet apparently encouraged students to ‘live-tweet’ (is that a word?) during the sermon. This must be so that others could follow along, using a hashtag (
#MTCchapel) and see what the tweeters were saying. Presumably it would be in summary of sermon higlights or in reaction to the sermon.
So I tweeted back…
Does 1 Cor 14:31 have relevance? You can all prophesy in turn! Wait till preacher has finished?
In response, Shane wondered,
@shanerogerson – not sure it’s really that prophetic, just summarising salient points of what is being prophesied
Of course, tweets during sermons could just summarise what is preached.
But they could also be critiques. And I am certainly not sure the latter – especially when made instantly public – is appropriate from those sitting under the Word. Certainly 1 Cor 14:29 suggests it is the job of the “others” to weigh what is said. But I suspect these “others” are most likely the prophets, or the congregational elders. So if anyone is to tweet during a sermon at Moore College, maybe it should be the other lecturers!
However my real point in raising that bit of 1 Corinthians 14 is that of orderliness, when people bring the Word of God to one another. (This even reflects something of God’s nature, v33.)
Only one speaks at a time! (1 Cor 14:30-31 again!)
And others can control themselves and wait till the current speaker has finished.
It is more important to listen, than to be immediately telling others what you think. But live-tweeting during a sermon seems to encourage the potential for many people to be speaking before the first speaker, i.e. the preacher, has even finished.
It was a good and friendly interchange. And I have asked my conversation partners to comment here.
Maybe I lack self-awareness, but I do not think I am anti-tech. After all, we discussed this by tweeting. And I myself have tweeted highlights of sermons from others I have heard at St Michael’s where I serve (try #GongCathedral). But I waited till after church before I sent the tweets. In conclusion, as I tweeted myself…
pro-tech people realise there are times when it is appropriate to wait before using tech!