4 Ways to Use Cell Phones in Worship

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When I’m at a conference, I look for the conference hashtag so I can engage in a conversation on Twitter. When I watch sports, I have the Sportscenter app pulled up on my phone to follow the stats live. When I watch a movie on Netflix, I will look at my IMBD app to find out where I have seen an actor before. Yet, in so many of our churches, we ask people to not use one of their most frequently used and convenient tools, their cell phones.

If a church discourages cell phones in worship, we seem out of touch. If we say nothing, people may feel free to disengage and check Facebook, text a friend, or just play Trivia Crack. What if we encouraged people to use their cell phones as tools to have a more meaningful, engaging worship experience?

Here are four ways you can help people utilize their cell phones in worship:

1. Utilize the Live Event function of the Bible App by Life Church.

The Bible App produced by LifeChurch is a tool that is probably already many of your congregation’s phones. If you ask people on Sunday morning to “turn to Luke 4,” more people are pulling out their phones instead of a printed Bible these days.

The Live Event function of the Bible App (www.youversion.com/live) allows your congregation to have, in one place, everything they might need to go deeper in your sermon. Going to read 3 different scriptures throughout your sermon? Add each one to your live event and they don’t have to search for them, and they can reference them later. Have an article they should read or a video for them to watch later? You can add a link for them to check out. Have a quote that you think everyone needs to remember? Type it out so that people can easily share it with their friends on social media sites. They can take notes as well and easily email the links, scriptures, and notes to themselves or someone else.

It takes me about 20 minutes to put the information together each week, and it is well worth the investment of time. Check out the website to see how various churches utilize the live event function. You will need to train and then occasionally remind your congregation that this is a tool worth utilizing.

2. Invite people to text you responses during the sermon.

Active engagement in a sermon is a primary value for me. So one Sunday, I tried an experiment. I asked people to text me how someone would have described them in Middle School or High School. I received nearly 60 texts (out of around 280 people there), and I realized that I had found something with which people would engage. Periodically, I will ask people a question and invite them to text me and then I will, in the moment, choose some to read aloud.

Sometimes the questions lend to some humor (imagine how people would have described you in high school). Sometimes the questions give you some great illustrations. I recently asked people to text me with the most fun they have ever had giving someone a gift. I received so many great stories that I shared them on Facebook throughout the week.

3. Provide short quotes that people can post to Twitter and Facebook.

I mentioned this in the section about the Bible App, but prepare parts of your sermon with Facebook and Twitter in mind. If you don’t give people a phrase they can hold on to and share, it’s much easier to forget what you said. I try to provide a tweet-able phrase each week that I emphasize, that is easy for people to remember like, “We give because we are loved, and we give to Whom we love.” Invite people to post it to social media and make sure they use your church’s hashtag!

4. Utilize Mobile Giving

So many people don’t come prepared to spontaneously give if the Spirit moves them! I never carry a checkbook, and I rarely carry cash. By providing text-based giving, we give people an opportunity to respond to God’s Word through texting a gift. Mainstream media and relief organizations like the Red Cross have been successfully using text giving for a while now. First Methodist in Tulsa is just beginning to utilize text giving and we chose www.kindrid.com, and so far we have been pleased with the results. There are other options out there that you can explore to find the best fit for your church.

Some might say that doing these things we are caving to the culture by adopting these practices, but I think it’s thoughtful and engaging worship leadership.

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Aaron Tiger is an associate pastor at First United Methodist Church in Tulsa, OK, who loves the opportunity to preach every week. Aaron and his wife Heather are the parents of two young boys who make his life considerably more interesting. He is the lead contributor of the918.org. Follow him on Twitter: @aarontiger.

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