I grew up in a church that disliked distractions during worship. During the announcements, a message is displayed asking people to silence their cell phones. Cry rooms are built into the sanctuary so that mothers can attend to young children and still be a part of the worship service.
For the record, I’m not opposed to that in any way.
Other churches, however, are taking a different approach to technology in the worship service. For example, the church I’m currently attending recently conducted an experiment involving texting. During the worship service, we were encouraged to send prayer requests via text message; then, during the worship songs at the end of the service, those requests were displayed on screen for the entire congregation to see.
Mars Hill Seattle is another church that is exploring how emerging technologies can be employed during the worship experience. Mars Hill is fairly unique in that many of their attendees each week have absolutely no church background. In fact, for many, it may be their first time in church ever.
As you might imagine, church etiquette is foreign.
Mars Hill realized they had two options.
1) They could fight a losing battle by discouraging the use of cell phones, etc.
2) They could think about creative ways to use technology to better reach that audience.
They opted for the latter, and I applaud them for it.
Twitter is one of the technological tools they have coopted to do that. Instead of asking people to stop texting during the service, they’ve started encouraging it. They’ve asked people to “tweet” about the service while it’s happening, and each week their staff reviews all those tweets and posts a “Top Ten Tweets” on the church’s blog.
As a member of the Twitterverse, I think it’s a great idea, given their audience and context.
Thoughts? Is this an effective use of technology or little more than a distraction?