The Convenient Distraction of Tech Gadgets in Worship

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  • iStock_000022766961SmallThe phone rang in my hotel room. It could only mean one thing. My ride was in the lobby. It was time to go preach.

    I grabbed my Bible, iPad, and ball cap, and headed out the door. I knew I needed to take another look at my manuscript on the way to church. So I searched for it in my iPad, as I walked to the elevator. Found it.

    As I glanced over my sermon, I struggled to remember the message. So I braced myself to have to preach from the manuscript. Most of the time I preach only from my Bible, with the sermon pretty much memorized. But I am neurotic about it. If I need my manuscript, I use it.

    On the elevator ride down, I began to engage in my typical routine. When I am preaching from my iPad, I close all the other applications.

    It was a lot of them, this time. I closed apps the ride down. Walking through the lobby, I closed more apps. And when I got in the car, I continued to close apps.

    Like many people, I use my iPad for scheduling, study, news, games, note taking, entertainment, wed surfing, and more. But I was not conscious of the diverse ways I use my iPad, until that night. And it felt strange.

    I would never go to the pulpit with books, a gaming device, newspapers, calendar, and camera. But this is what I am doing when I take my iPad to the pulpit. And it is something weird about that.

    BibleLet me be clear. I am not condemning the use of phones or tablets in worship. The barn door is already open on this one. There is nothing we can do about it. And I am fine with that.

    My concern is that the convenience of technological devices can easily become a distraction in worship. I love my phone and tablet because of the convenience they give. But is this a good thing when I am tempted to multitask in worship.

    A lot of Christians struggle in their personal devotions. For many, Sunday mornings are the only time God’s gets their undivided attention. How does that work when there is the strong and easily fulfilled temptation to text, email, and web surf during the word and worship?

    Think about it. On Saturday night, a person sits up and does sinful things on his tablet. Yet on Sunday morning, that person uses that tablet as a Bible in worship. Isn’t there something inappropriate about that? Something that would happen in that person simply used a Bible on Sunday morning?

    I am raising questions that I do not have all the answers to. I do not have a list of solutions to offer for this problem. But I do issue a warning: Do whatever it takes to make sure that the convenience of technology does not become a distraction in worship.

    What can do you take to make sure that technology does not distract you in worship? How can pastors and churches leaders model reverent focus on God in worship? Join the conversation in the comments section.


    H.B. Charles Jr.

    Pastor-Teacher at the Shiloh Metropolitan Baptist Church of Jacksonville and Orange Park, Florida.

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