Liturgical Texting?

by Jacob Juncker

Cellphone ownership is at an all time high.  It is estimated that 87% of U.S. households own a mobile phone.  25% of U.S. households have ditched their landlines and are only using mobile phones.  72% of mobile subscribers send or receive 664 texts per month compared to making or receiving only 176 phone calls.  With these statistics in mind, how will the church adapt?  How can the church capitalize on cell phone usage to engage persons in all facets of their faith.   The Rev. Mike Schreiner of Morning Star Church in O’Fallon, Mo., is trying engage people in worship through their cellphones.

As I watched this video from UM Communications I couldn’t help but wonder how texting could change not only the sermon, but other parts of the worship experience, for the good.  As one of the pastors in a fairly large congregation  (who doesn’t preach every week), I often witness people disengaging during worship.  I wonder what it would be like to encourage texting and use of a mobile devices during all facets of the worship experience.  Would we see a rise in engagement and participation?  What might that look like?

People could “check-in” on Facebook or FourSquare as they gather for worship.  People could text clarifying questions to the pastor as he is preaching–with an opportunity to address some, if not all the questions, “live” at the conclusion of the message.  Prayer requests, joys and concerns, could be easily submitted and compiled onto an interactive prayer list which is immediately ready to be sent out to the prayer chain.  As people pray the prayer of confession before communion, congregants could publicly, yet anonymously, confess their sin before their brothers in sisters.  And let’s not forget the announcements–there are lots of possibilities there–they could be video taped and posted to the web (youtube, FB, and church website); they could be instantly emailed and reviewed during worship…

Do you think texting, or the use of a mobile device, could enhance your worship experience?  In what ways could it help? or hinder worship?

Mobile phone statistics taken from an article written by Paul Rosenfeld, “Mobile by the (Astonishing) Numbers,” published at American Express: Open Forum (October 26, 2010).