Monday, February 25, 2013

iPods at Church

An interesting question, should people use their iPods at church. I've been thinking about this off and on lately. First, it was my husband using his iPod to read scripture during the service. I shook my head; I gave him a few disapproving looks (for those of you who may read this and don't know me, I specialize in these....haha..ha).

Next, he began using his iPod to read the call to worship, a Psalm or section of the Bible, from the stage during worship. It was on a music stand; I doubt anyone saw or noticed the difference. But I sure did!! I freaked OUT! (Quietly, inside. The casual observer may have seen me blink just a little too long, my eyebrows raise ever so slightly) WHAT is he DOING!! Sacrilege! For some reason it was The Unthinkable to me.

He argued that it's no big deal, and this way he can have the verses quickly and with no disruption to the flow of the service. It used to take him about 2.5 seconds to find the verse in his Bible. So now he is redeeming the time, putting those 2 seconds to better use. Umm... well done.

Finally, our 13 year old daughter, resplendent with a new iPod, also had the Bible app. Yikes! What might people be people thinking!? Do they think she is texting her friends like the teenage boys at the back of the church, phones hidden under their coats, satisfied smirks on their faces? Or maybe they think she's playing a game...heavens, this is embarrassing. No, she's just following along with the scripture reading. But I can hardly stand it. I'm really distracted...husband to the left of me, daughter to the right, here I am, stuck in the middle with actual pages of a Bible.
I convince myself I'm simply archaic, maybe even jealous. I stare straight ahead. I know I have the attention span of a gnat with ADHD, so that's just it; gotta focus.
A few Sundays pass. I give up on the iPod on the stage, I figure my husband is a big boy and can do what he wants. (Whew, good grief, I know....poor man).

The daughter, well my husband began to have a problem with her looking at her iPod, also. We've asked her to put it away now and then. Hypocrites!! I say that tongue-in-cheek. Of course I know that teens need to do as their parents say, not as they do (my whole meaning for existence is kinda dependent upon this premise).

And then I read recently a series of articles on the subject of iPhones at church, and it got me thinking again. There seem to be many different reasons and rationales both for those FOR and those AGAINST. Some valid points, as far as I can tell, with a dash of sarcasm sprinkled in on both sides.

Personally, I don't think people should use their phones because a) it is distracting to people like me,  b) it is not a good example to those who may not have the iron control necessary to not check e-mail, tweet, or look at a facebook update, and c) I can't use this on my phone at the moment.
Alright c) is a joke.
That last one should actually read, c) when you use your Bible you can see the immediate and overall context.

Oh, and then there's:

d) iPhones are for entertainment and scripture is not entertainment
e) your phone might ring
f) it might be tempting to update your calendar using the bulletin
g) f) without the bulletin part
h) the battery might die in the middle of the sermon
i) the pastor may think you are making a meme
j) the pastor may think you are taking his picture and then using photoshop
k) your wife or significant other might give you looks like daggers
l) you may never crack a Bible again and have to give away your bookshelves because they are all dusty
m) the blue glow on your face may affect your skin tone

Should people even bring their phones to church? Should we leave them in the car? Should we have baskets for people to drop in their technology before entering the sanctuary? What about the guy with the laptop, taking semon notes? (I'm gonna choke him, yes I am, behind the church later. No joke.)

Besides, I spent all that time memorizing the books of the Bible, and it's not fair that you can bring up any verse with the smooth touch of a Galaxy button. Plus I learned that the Old Testament is the first section and the New Testament is the second one. And if you open your Bible in the middle it generally lands somewhere in the Psalms. And what about Sword Drills? I'd like to see a Bible teacher have some fun with that!
"iPhones UP!! Zebedee chapter 23, verse 19. GO."


  1. (read this a few days ago and forgot to come back and comment until now)

    Pam, this was great. You make me laugh, even while you make me think. :-) This was a timely post as someone read the invocation from his iPhone at church recently and I found myself struggling with what to make of it. It didn't feel quite right, but I couldn't articulate why, except that the stance seemed too casual. The reader was a good and godly man, so it seemed silly to react in such a way, but it is a topic worth considering. At the same time as I was struggling with that, I was also resisting the urge to click on my own phone - I'm not sure helpfulness is greater than the temptation!

    PS - I think the point about context was a great one - I've tried reading my Bible on my phone and it just doesn't work nearly as well as good old-fashioned paper and ink!

    1. Thanks for commenting Becky! When you say "It didn't feel quite right, but I couldn't articulate why..." I think you are speaking for a great many who have a vague uneasiness, but are waiting to figure it out. I was being rather silly in this blog, but the truth is that I really don't like iPhones being used in church. For whatever reason, that's hard to say! I probably don't want to sound like I'm making rules about such a trivial thing. And maybe waiting for some truth about it to catch up to my feelings and make sense of them.


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