ANOTHER GIMMICK: Text Messaging Questions to the Preacher during the Sermon


Is this a gimmick or a legitimate innovation for preaching? During sermons, the Rev. Mike Schreiner of Morning Star Church (United Methodist denomination), allows text messages to be sent off – to him that is, with questions relating to the sermon.

The so-called ‘Director of Worship,’ Amie Haskins, receives the messages on the church mobile phone. These she screens and then types questions into a keyboard to be sent via a computer connected to Schreiner’s lap top in the pulpit.

With the questions appearing on his screen, this allows Schreiner the ability to answer relevant questions during the sermon.

The text messaging also engages the young people of the church and they listen more intently than they did before.

The text messaging is part of the wider ‘technological ministry’ operating at the church, which includes lighting controls, presentations on the large screens above the stage, wide-screen plasma monitors in the church’s coffee shop in the lobby, etc.

Apparently the texting fad is taking off across the US and is even used to some degree in the Mars Hill Church at Seattle.

Part of the philosophy behind the texting fad seems to be to be more appealing to people so that they come to church and get more involved in what is actually happening. Undoubtedly this would be an attractive and seemingly successful method for getting people involved and coming along, especially those who love their gadgets these days.

I am sure that texting has its place in the ministry of any modern church and can prove very useful to send messages to large numbers of people at once and for keeping in touch, however, the use of texting in the local church context seems to me to be out of place.

Preaching ought not to be confused with teaching, with the two being different aspects of a church’s ministry. Certainly any true preaching will include teaching, but teaching need not include preaching. Preaching is the authoritative declaration of the Word of God to the people of God by the God-called preacher of God. He comes with a message that is to be heard by the people of God for the people of God. The message is not to be tailor made to the felt needs of the people sitting in the congregation nor is it to be modified to suit the desires of those sitting there as expressed via texted questions to the preacher.

The danger is that the preacher will be moved away from his task and go off message to pursue certain tangents that may not even have been the course he intended to take as the messenger of God to the people of God. He comes with the Burden of the Lord and he must speak and be heard as that messenger.

Preaching is a declaration and explanation of the Word with relevant and searching application and as such is not a dialogue, no matter what form that dialogue might take.

For more on this read the article on texting in church at:

http://www.stltoday.com/stltoday/news/stories.nsf/religion/story/EC394B244877FB16862574CD00081AAD?OpenDocument

 

 

 

 

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3 thoughts on “ANOTHER GIMMICK: Text Messaging Questions to the Preacher during the Sermon

  1. While I understand your point that preaching is a declararion, I think the attitude conveyed with the words, “The so-called ‘Director of Worship'” and the response that Steve gave about the thought that God would take questions being “laughable” might be less helpful in communicating your thoughts.

    In the case of the worship director in question, just because someone is trying something outside of what is normal doesn’t discredit their ministry. They might even fail once in a while (as we all do from time to time) and still have a valid ministry.

    And as far as theology goes… The Bible is full of stories where God dialogues with His people. Sometimes He answers their questions, sometimes He doesn’t. But God isn’t afraid of our questions and we shouldn’t be afraid of questions either.

    I do agree that there is a difference between preaching and teaching. Maybe texting questions would be better in a teaching situation as you implied. But the idea of using technology (or any tool at our disposal) to the best of our ability to help people have a better understanding of the Word of God is a good one that should be explored and debated without ridicule.

    Thanks for writing this blog and caring for about important issues in the church.

    May God bless you as you follow Him.

    Sincerely,
    Eric

  2. Glad to see that we still have a voice of reason among some Christians. The technology thing has gotten out of hand, and text messaging the preacher is uncalled for. If electronic toys are necessary to engage people during a sermon, either the preaching is ineffective or the audience does not have the right attitude. The Bible does not have one example of a New Testament sermon being a dialogue. The thought of God taking questions while declaring His truth is laughable. In our church we’ve had people use their iPhones to send Facebook messages during the sermon (to people not even in attendance), and it makes me wonder if God will remove His hand from a congregation that engages in such disrespectful behavior. It’s not about relevance or entertainment or engaging the audience, etc. If you need gimmicks, something’s wrong. You have correctly seen this for what it is, and are to be commended for taking a stand against this nonsense.

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