Last week as we were lined up at the door to The National Cathedral the security people there instructed us to please turn on all our telephones before entering.
This is apparently to make sure that what we claim to be cell phones are really cell phones and not some other nefarious gadget.
As I handed mine over to the secret service agent I heard the man behind me comment, “Well, this is the first time I have ever been asked to turn my cell phone ON in church!”
A couple of days ago my friend and local fellow pastor Elizabeth Hagan wrote a blog entry about whether or not cell phones should be allowed in church . . . that is, whether they should be welcomed in church. Apparently a church in Atlanta has declared a “cell phone free zone” so worshippers can bring their electronic devices to church.
I’m not too sure how I feel about this. On the one hand, I have a very close relationship with my BlackBerry, so I certainly understand the need to feel connected. I also occasionally receive emails or text messages sent DURING worship by worshippers commenting on something they experienced, so I know folks do use electronic devices during worship. (Though I am quite sure NEVER during the sermon.)
On the other hand, this question hits right at one of my sore points: the push to be a “consumer driven” church. Since when do we have give people what they want to get them to “buy” our product? Worship is a discipline, an investment . . . not just a convenient show, right? And, church to me is sanctuary in so many different ways of understanding that word. I need it-a place to run to and rest in, away from the crazy pull of my hectic life. I figure if I need it, other people do, too. And if we encourage people to use their cell phones during worship . . . that might take away from the feeling of sanctuary for everybody else.
So, I, the woman who admittedly was text messaging people all through the inaugural prayer service last week, am of two minds on this issue. What do you think?