Opposite Texting Tack: Pastor Tells Worshipers to Turn ON Cellphones

Thursday, 29 Mar 2012 09:36 AM

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Many pastors go all biblical on worshipers who leave their cellphones on during services. Others opt for more technological approaches, such as employing those newfangled devices that can create a phone dead zone at the flick of a switch.

The Rev. Mark Solyst just used to confiscate the cellphones of children violating his no-phone policy. But the pastor of English Lutheran Church in La Crosse, Wis., recently added a different spin to the term “biblical text” and surprised worshipers when he told them to turn on their cellphones.

Many, especially the youths in the congregation, thought he was just joking at first, reports the La Crosse Tribune.

No fooling, Solyst, an avid texter himself, told the congregation as he heeded the biblical advice that the young will lead and decided to use the devices as teaching tools.

The pastor pushed the on button for cellphones during Lenten services.

“Solyst poses challenging questions to worshipers, who can text their answers,” the Tribune reports. “The responses are then reviewed in a PowerPoint presentation after the homily.”

Solyst spreads the credit for the positive results, telling the Tribune: “The Spirit doesn’t just work through me. As they answer these questions for themselves, they grow stronger in faith and commitment.”

Adam Nichols told the newspaper that he agrees. Some ministers’ preaching goes over his head, Nichols said, adding, “Now, I have to have an answer.”

The answers to Solyst’s question last week, “Why church?”, brought the following responses, among others:
  • “It teaches us God’s story, which he hopes we [use to] follow his path to heaven.”
  • “It’s a community of believers that helps strengthen everyone’s faith.”
  • And another worshiper offered a simple smiley face text —:).

One reason Solyst is tapping the text route in the pews is that 65 percent of English Lutheran’s newer members are in their 20s and 30s.

“If the church wants to connect with people, this is how you do it,” Solyst told the Tribune.

So what’s the read from older members? Some, such as 75-year-old Mary Sween, don’t text responses but just write them down and hand them in.

And she reacts to the technique in a philosophical, futuristic way, saying: “It’s a good way to keep the younger ones involved. It will be their job to carry the church on some day.”

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