Texting in Church

I was reading this article about how churches, rather than asking the congregation to turn their phones off during a service, are doing the opposite. Worshipers are asked to keep their phones on and text questions to the pastor.

Let’s see what they are texting:

During [Rev. Mike] Schreiner’s 30-minute sermon, [director of worship Amie] Haskins received 35 questions.

— When we are in heaven, will we be able to touch our relatives still on Earth?

— Will we look the same, or have new bodies?

— What happens to the baby when a mom has an abortion? Does it go to heaven?

— Will our friends who have not officially accepted Christ within a church environment still be accepted in heaven if they lived a life pleasing to God?

— I’m wondering (and this will sound awful) about people I don’t care to bump into in heaven. Will strained relationships here be awkward there, too?

— When we get to heaven, how will we know what Jesus, or even God, looks like? Could they look just like everyone else?

Schreiner answered just three of them, but the church’s embrace of texting — this was the third week of its experiment — has already improved the dialogue, according to Schreiner, and energized many of Morning Star’s younger members.

“I love it,” said 14-year-old Kailey Elfstrum, who had her text all ready to go even before Schreiner’s sermon began. “You get to ask the pastor anything you want while he’s talking.”

He answered three of them?!

What on earth did he say?! “If you’re ugly on earth, you’ll be ugly in Heaven.” Of course not. He said whatever made the congregation feel good. I wonder how much he could possibly make up without anyone calling him out on it…

Maybe I’m overreacting. The article doesn’t say how he answered.

But I’m willing to take a guess.

And is texting all that necessary? Are pastors so inaccessible nowadays that you’re unable to ask them questions in person? They need screeners? It’s like a church headed by Sarah Palin. (Oh, snap!)

  • Liz

    Morning Star? Is this a Luciferian church?

  • SarahH

    Ultimately, I think the only people this benefits are the pastors and Christians who wouldn’t think to text any questions that are too challenging. Plus, what if you don’t think the pastor answered your question satisfactorily? Can you follow-up text him?

    I had a legitimate question for my pastor when I was somewhere around 10-12: “If the 10 Commandments tell us not to kill, then why did God tell King David to kill so many people?”

    My pastor told me that when killing is God’s will, it’s okay, and that it was necessary for God’s plan for his chosen people, in a nutshell. That answer was, in my young opinion, not good enough.

    And that would be the defining moment in my transition from childlike faith to rational skepticism.

  • Kyle

    I love it!

    I guess the only real answer would be:

    “Well we’ll just have to wait and see what happens when we’re all dead!”

    Hallelujah!

  • http://mylongapostasy.blogspot.com ATL-Apostate

    Did Adam and Eve have belly buttons?

    Would love to see him explain that.

  • TheDeadEye

    3 out of 35? That’s some mighty fine cherry picking there…

  • Scott Lichtenstein

    I’d like to take a shot at answering some of these.

    “When we get to heaven, how will we know what Jesus, or even God, looks like? Could they look just like everyone else?”

    Of course they look like everyone else…because man created god in his own image!

    “Will we look the same, or have new bodies?”

    You will look the same and have the same body…until it starts to decompose.

    “I’m wondering (and this will sound awful) about people I don’t care to bump into in heaven. Will strained relationships here be awkward there, too?”

    Admittedly, there WILL be a lot of COLD shoulders.

    Sorry if that got a bit too corny.

  • cipher

    Do we know which three?

  • http://gretachristina.typepad.com/ Greta Christina

    I’m wondering (and this will sound awful) about people I don’t care to bump into in heaven. Will strained relationships here be awkward there, too?

    Actually, if you think about this one, it cuts right to the heart of the whole “perfect permanent afterlife” concept. If we get along with everyone and are perfectly happy with no conflicts, then we’re not really ourselves, are we? But what’s the point of a perfect permanent life in heaven if we don’t get to be who we are?

  • Richard Wade

    I would be very surprised if he answered this question on the list:

    — Will our friends who have not officially accepted Christ within a church environment still be accepted in heaven if they lived a life pleasing to God?

    Sorta goes straight to the marrow of the church’s survival, don’t it? Long ago, early priests realized that stressing believing over behavior insured that the flock would keep coming back to the temple, bringing their money with them. A well-behaved community doesn’t need fat priests.

    If he were to answer “no” to that question, then a lot of the congregation would have a tough time accepting the obvious unfairness of their reputedly loving god, but if he answered “yes,” then the immediate conclusion would be, “Well then I don’t have to keep wasting my Sunday mornings sitting here on these ass-torturing pews!”

  • http://bjornisageek.blogspot.com Bjorn Watland

    Does anyone else think that Hemant has a thing for middle aged women with glasses and five kids, who happen to live in Alaska and whose name rhymes with Tara Whalin’?

  • Jen

    I refuse to believe anyone actually typed those out. My guess is that they were more along the lines of, “Doz God b-lieve in LOLS?” and they were simply rewritten to sound literate.

    Meanwhile, I can’t imagine anything more irritating than a speaker checking his or her texts in the middle of a talk. Hell, I can’t stand it during dinner out.

  • http://religiouscomics.net Jeff

    Pastors saying things to please the congregation reminds me of the one (and only one) video associated with Westboro Baptist church that I kind-of agreed with.

    See this.

  • Einmaliger

    — Will we look the same, or have new bodies?

    — What happens to the baby when a mom has an abortion? Does it go to heaven?

    These questions are interesting, especially if followed by the questions: If a baby goes to heaven, will it remain a baby for eternity, unable to develop, speak, think? Or will it grow older until it reaches a certain age? What age? Will older people become younger?

  • David

    Actually, I have to give this pastor some credit. There’s a distinct advantage to this method in that it provides some anonymity between the asking person and the rest of the congregation. Can you imagine anyone actually standing up in church asking some of these questions? Some of these, to me, sound like questions that a lot of people would like to ask, but would be too intimidated to do so in a very public manner. I think it’s a good way to start a dialog, even if these questions are unanswerable in any meaningful way to a non-believer.

    And it doesn’t take all that much effort to check a text during a speech. You can do it very unobtrusively. I’ve done it many times, and most people don’t even notice. If it’s part of the plan to begin with, and encourages some interaction between the speaker and the audience, I don’t think it’s rude at all.

  • http://www.otmatheist.com hoverFrog

    - When we are in heaven, will we be able to touch our relatives still on Earth?

    Presumptuous child. You don’t get to decide if you go to heaven. That is GOD’S domain only. Sinner, I see the path to HELL before you.

    — Will we look the same, or have new bodies?

    Whatever pleases GOD the most. If HE chooses to bring us back as pink bunnies and feed us to flying lions then that is HIS will and we should be happy about it. All praise the mighty GOD.

    — What happens to the baby when a mom has an abortion? Does it go to heaven?

    Well, she isn’t technically a mom until she has a child and an abortion isn’t a child…BUT she will BURN IN HELL for her sin of murder regardless and so will the potential baby because those cells haven’t embrased JESUS as the one true saviour.

    — Will our friends who have not officially accepted Christ within a church environment still be accepted in heaven if they lived a life pleasing to God?

    Ha ha ha, NO.

    — I’m wondering (and this will sound awful) about people I don’t care to bump into in heaven. Will strained relationships here be awkward there, too?

    You will not have a choice in the matter. GOD’s plan is that those he selects will go to HEAVEN to serve him. Do you really think that the creator doesn’t have better things to do that worry about your petty arguments? SINNER!

    — When we get to heaven, how will we know what Jesus, or even God, looks like? Could they look just like everyone else?

    Foolish child. You will know GOD by HIS blinding light which will burn away your SINS. I doubt if your eyes will survive.

    and for good measure

    - If the 10 Commandments tell us not to kill, then why did God tell King David to kill so many people?

    The 10 Commandments apply only to the Jews. Thou shalt not kill refers only to the murder of Jews and everyone else is free to slaughter one another. Besides which don’t question GOD’S will. SINNER!

  • Larry Huffman

    My text to the preacher:

    When will ur sermon B ovr? I want 2 watch football!

  • http://www.suttersaga.com Sam Sutter

    i like it – it humanizes people up front and gives people the ability to join otherwise inaccessible conversations.

  • David D.G.

    Some of those questions are very insightful — and I’d bet a dollar that those are the ones the pastor would do all he could to avoid answering.

    That said, however, I think this is a great experiment, and I’m impressed with the church and the pastor for implementing it. It’s good to see a church being open to trying new things, especially when those new things involve stimulating dialogue — even if the “dialogue” is still going to be tightly controlled from one side.

    ~David D.G.

  • TheDeadEye

    <>

    I can hardly imagine *anyone* asking questions in church.

  • Larry Huffman

    For those impressed with this…I was too when I first started reading…but when you consider that he only answered 3 of 35…just how accessible is that?

    And…it is also illogical on many fronts. If i was to stand in front of a group and lecture on evolution, for example. Does it benefit anybody for me to stop in the middle of a technical point (or at any point in the lecture for that matter) to answer the question “Can a lizard evolve fire breathing?” or some other silly off-topic question?

    Look at the questions the pastor fielded…they were all over the place. Theese questions are not asking him to clarify a point he has touched on…these are random. How does that help in any kind of teaching situation? Texting also will allow for purposely stupid questions, because the person does not have to actually verbalize the question themselves in front of others. (“Hey pastor, is your refridgerator running?)

    Why not just have people raise their hands if they have questions? Why the need to send a question through cyberspace to his phone when they are sitting right in front of him?

    Silly and ultimately pointless.

  • ash

    i like this idea; questioning is mostly worthwhile, thoughtful questions are useful, and receiving dubious, trite or uninformative answers may actually encourage some proper reason and doubt. so yeah, i’m all for it, but probably not for the reasons the church would want.

    …oh, and am i the only pervert here who read this and sniggered…?

    When we are in heaven, will we be able to touch our relatives still on Earth?

  • Polly

    OK, real quick:

    — When we are in heaven, will we be able to touch our relatives still on Earth?

    No, leave that to the priests.

    — Will we look the same, or have new bodies?

    Neither.
    I think the term is “pre-owned.”

    — What happens to the baby when a mom has an abortion? Does it go to heaven?

    Yes…where it waits…

    — Will our friends who have not officially accepted Christ within a church environment still be accepted in heaven if they lived a life pleasing to God?

    Only if they’re Republican.

    — I’m wondering (and this will sound awful) about people I don’t care to bump into in heaven. Will strained relationships here be awkward there, too?

    From the sound of it, I don’t think you’re going to have to worry about it.

    — When we get to heaven, how will we know what Jesus, or even God, looks like? Could they look just like everyone else?

    You won’t know, so you’ll have to be extra nice to everyone just in case.

  • Richard Wade

    Larry Huffman asked,

    Why not just have people raise their hands if they have questions? Why the need to send a question through cyberspace to his phone when they are sitting right in front of him?

    So the insightful, embarrassing questions that cannot be answered can be ignored as if they were never asked. Raising hands means everybody hears the question, and will be interested in the answer. No preacher is going to let the little kid say out loud, “Why does the Emperor have no clothes?”

  • Mikael Høilund

    — When we get to heaven, how will we know what Jesus, or even God, looks like? Could they look just like everyone else?

    You won’t know, so you’ll have to be extra nice to everyone just in case.

    I can imagine Richie saying that; cf. this image

  • Aspentroll

    It just goes on and on. Every day that goes by I hear more and more info that makes me sooo happy that I’m not involved with those whack jobs.


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