Tuesday, September 23, 2008

TXTing in church...


Here's a couple of snipets:
"The spotlight shone on the Rev. Mike Schreiner on 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.
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."

Its an interesting way to engage the culture. But as someone who teaches occasionally in adult worship and almost every weekend in student worship, I don't know if I would be agile enough on my feet to adjust my message to address questions.

Currently at FVCC, we do have text message updates for high school students (if you are an FVCC high school student, click HERE) and middle school students (if you are an FVCC middle school student, click HERE), but we don't have any current technology to put this into play. But I would love to see firsthand someone who is doing it.

As technology increases, the church needs to figure out what part of it is good and that we can use and what part isn't useful and should be discarded. But the more time that passes, it seems that texting is something that is useful and is here to stay.

What do you think?



  1. I tend towards a fairly formal oratory style when I preach, but this idea still sounds pretty cool. Is this happening in youth meetings or in a more general Sunday morning setting?

    I know one congregation here in the Athens area does the worship service first, and then during the subsequent Sunday school hour, one of the main classes is a study and critique of how the sermon used the day's text. That takes a very confident and humble preacher, but it's a phenomenal idea.

  2. My understanding is that its beginning to happen in both... general worship settings (like the article spotlights) and youth meetings. I've seen it more in youth meetings, but it would seem that others are beginning to pick up on the idea.

    One thought that I had was one text question could send the sermon in a completely different direction. That would take some nimbleness to be able to process questions while preaching and making subtle changes to address them.

  3. Hey! Nice to find your blog.

    At Morning Star, we've used the text messaging exclusively during the general, weekend services (not youth).

    All texts are sent to our media booth where they're screened for relevance to the topic. So Jim, your concern about one question sending the sermon in a completely different direction isn't one we've had to worry about too much. Also, so far our pastors have taken the texted questions at the end of the message--rather than throughout. I suspect, though, that as they get more comfy with the process, they'll begin to include texting throughout the entire message. And then you're right--it'll take some nimbleness to process the questions and make subtle adjustments. We're hoping that as questions come up on their monitor, they can choose to answer them right then . . . or say something like, "That's a great question, and I'll be addressing that very thing in just a few moments so listen closely," and so on. Make sense? It's been a fun experiment!

    Take care-Kelley Hartnet, Director of Communications, MSC (www.mscwired.org)