I love my phone.
With those four words, I have said what a lot of people in my generation are hesitant to admit. I’m positive that I’m not alone. I know that many of you love having that little supercomputer tucked in your back pocket at all times, ready to snap a photo, send a text or play a game at a moment’s notice.
I obsess over keeping my phone charged so that, at the first hint of boredom, I’ll always have something to occupy my mind. As much as I enjoy my phone and admire its usefulness, I can see in myself and others the negative effects phones have.
In this world of posts, clicks and likes, I have grown accustomed to instant gratification. I know that I only have to hit a few keys to read, watch and learn anything my heart desires. I have grown used to being face-to-face with whatever I’m interacting with—I can pause a TED Talk to take notes or rewind it to clarify a missed point. I can almost have a conversation with the speaker.
Church, however, is not as personalized. I often find myself either zoning out or focusing too hard; either way, I miss the message. Even in Sabbath School, I have had a lot that I wanted to say, but I didn’t want to interrupt or take up too much time because I wanted to hear what everyone else had to say as well. In these situations, I tend to resign myself to the fact that my attention span and listening skills have been ruined by the convenience of modern technology.
However, ever since churches shut down due to COVID-19, I have been participating and organizing a home Vespers with a few of my close friends. During our meetings, I’m never bored. I’m tuned in, directly engaged and genuinely interested. Everyone can chime in at any time to ask a question or make their own point, which draws us all closer to the material. It has been life changing.
I’ve realized that, while I may have trouble paying attention in church because I’m so used to having material up-close and personal, it isn’t church that’s the problem for me—it’s the format. I find it difficult to sit in one place and be preached to in a sea of other people. I need to be directly engaged, asking questions and conversing with other Christians who want to understand the Bible and have a relationship with God as much as I do.
While I believe that traditional church services and personal devotions are important, I also know that small group discussion is what has brought me the closest to God in times of despair and confusion.
Everyone has an opinion on phones and whether they do more help or harm to society. While I can’t speak for everyone, I know that my phone is a double-edged sword; it can help or hurt us depending on how we use it. So, while I continue to try to depend less on my phone, I appreciate the way it has wired me to desire closer connections, ask deeper questions and seek out fellow Christians who might feel just as disconnected from the church as I once did.
Written by Jamie Henderson