One would be hard-pressed to go an entire day without bumping into someone (sometimes literally) with their phone out and their thumbs punching buttons. It used to be limited to teenagers at the mall, but now text messaging is commonplace, as is its sister technology, Twitter. And for many churches, this is great news because these technologies provide opportunities to foster community—even during worship.
One of the first churches to incorporate text messaging into a worship service was Mars Hill Church in Seattle.
"When our church plant was small, our young and unchurched crowd would routinely interrupt my sermons to ask questions," says Mark Driscoll, preaching pastor at Mars Hill. "But as the church continued to expand, it became impossible to continue serving people by answering their questions."
So Mars Hill began encouraging people to submit questions via text messaging during the service. The questions were screened, and at the end of the sermon, Driscoll answered the most relevant questions.
"The first week we tried this, the sermon was about sex," he says, "and a woman who was pregnant as a result of rape asked if she could have an abortion. I answered her anonymous question, we stopped to pray as a church, and we followed up with her for pastoral care. As a result, she did not have the abortion she was planning and a life was spared."
Schweitzer United Methodist Church in Springfield, Missouri, has started incorporating text messaging into its college-age service.
"This fall we hosted a panel discussion with students about how faith impacts their daily life, and we let students text their questions," says Matt Kerner, Schweitzer's pastor of creative arts and college ministry. "In the past, we had them ...