I write this acknowledging that I am easily distracted and often find it difficult to concentrate during church. I also write this acknowledging that I am a heavy user of my phone and I would admit that it is kind of the go-to device for much of my ministry and work – it has my bibles, diary, email, etc.
So this morning, in the rush to get out the door and arriving at church in reasonable time, I accidentally left my phone at home. At first, I was really worried because what happened if someone wanted to make an appointment with me during the week? Or what happened if I just needed to check out the greek or hebrew to make sure that the preacher was correct? Or …..
Tentatively, I sat down at the back of church and tried to forget that my baby was alone at home unattended (actually the kids were probably abusing it playing endless levels of Angry birds!). However, the most amazing thing happened. Without my phone, I seemed to get probably 50% more out of church than usual. I think I can reasonably guage this because I am a “church service junky” – that means I attend 4 services a Sunday because I am paid to and also want to go!
And the reason why it was so much better? I’d say because I was not distracted by my phone. Let me explain with 4 things I normally (and secretly do) during services:
- I wasn’t able to surf the net during a “flat spot” of a service/sermon. This meant I was able to concentrate on the service/sermon and actually engage with the hard work that the preacher/service leaders had put into the service. By the way, I don’t it is ever possible to have 100% engagement of all people all the time in a church service. However, the easy distraction of the phone was not there today!
- I wasn’t able to chase through my phone bible on tangents. I admit that often the preacher would say something and I would automatically chase in my mind and phone the idea or theme. In the mean time, the preacher had preached another 5 minutes worth and I had missed a vital point by the time I re-engaged!
- I was thinking about Sunday and not this week’s work. On my phone, it has a widget that shows me my tasks, another that shows me my current emails and another that shows me the next 3 days of appointments (yes it is a big home screen because it is a Samsung Galaxy Note). However, my phone wasn’t available today, so I wasn’t being concerned about tomorrow but was able to concentrate on ministry in front of me today.
- I just wasn’t available to whomever was calling/texting. Being a church minister, I am staggered how available people expect me to be. By accidentally forgetting my phone, I get to remind people that meeting with God’s people, praying and hearing God’s word has precedence in my life and it ought to in others. Sure it means it is sub-optimum efficiency for the person trying to get hold of me, but I’m happy to live with that!
Well there you have it. I had a great morning at church without my phone. And although I only accidentally left it at home, I didn’t really miss it but actually enjoyed it not being near me. Maybe you should forget your phone too and let me know how it went!
Loves Jesus and loves telling people about Him.