Support the Café

Search our Site

The wired culture goes to Sunday School

The wired culture goes to Sunday School

Jason Byasee, writing for Union Theological Seminary’s New Media Project, tells of a recent experience teaching Sunday School, when one of the attendees whipped out his mobile device and started texting.

At first I figured I’d win him over. Be more profound, funny, Jesus-y, entertaining. It didn’t work. Next came resentment: “Who’s he got to email on a Sunday morning?” By the end, I tried to let it go, but I couldn’t help thinking, “What if we were in a different pastoral situation? What if he or someone he loved was in the hospital and I was the pastor called to offer care, and what if then I pulled out my phone and started thumb-clicking? He wouldn’t care for it, would he?”

Checking one’s smartphone during conversations or intimate gatherings seems to me to be more commonplace these days. And it’s not just texting: A friend tells me of a wedding in which a groomsman’s cellphone rang. This is common enough, if not still embarrassing. What happened next though was truly epic: The man answered the phone, the congregation heard the caller ask, “What’s up?”, and he answered so that everyone could hear, “Nuthin’.”

…. As a preacher and professor, it seems that I’m going to have to get used to competing with the increasingly brazen use of personal devices. States wouldn’t have to pass laws against texting while driving if people didn’t do it and then crash. As one who cares about teaching and small group gatherings, I wonder how we can overaccept this development as theologian and priest Sam Wells suggests, borrowing from the language of improvisational acting (Improvisation: The Drama of Christian Ethics, Brazos Press, 2004). We cannot simply block the use of devices, insisting no one touch them in our presence. Nor can we simply accept thumb wars during weddings and church. How can we overaccept the devices, instead? How can we draw them into our life by including them in a larger story where they have a role for good?

Read the whole thing, or just go ahead and join the Texting in Church Facebook group.


Café Comments?

Our comment policy requires that you use your real first and last names and provide an email address (your email will not be published). Comments that use non-PG rated language, include personal attacks, that are not provable as fact or that we deem in any way to be counter to our mission of fostering respectful dialogue will not be posted.

Support the Café
Past Posts

The Episcopal Café seeks to be an independent voice, reporting and reflecting on the Episcopal Church and the Anglican tradition.  The Café is not a platform of advocacy, but it does aim to tell the story of the church from the perspective of Progressive Christianity.  Our collective sympathy, as the Café, lies with the project of widening the circle of inclusion within the church and empowering all the baptized for the role to which they have been called as followers of Christ.

The opinions expressed at the Café are those of individual contributors, and, unless otherwise noted, should not be interpreted as official statements of a parish, diocese or other organization. The art and articles that appear here remain the property of their creators.

All Content  © 2017 Episcopal Café