Texting Church


No – this is not a word, it is a text. What does it mean?

In the Name of the Father, and The Son, and

the Holy Spirit.

Even as a tireless advocate of #chsocm – oh, I mean, Church Social Media – I am not crazy about the idea of texting during worship.

TextingJesusWhen I read this, my discomfort leaped: “It’s not uncommon to look out at the congregation and see everyone on their smartphones,” That might work in other churches, but something in me resists it in Roman Catholic liturgy. Am I being an uptight jerk? (Don’t answer that!) I try to view resistance as invitation, but this one… I’m not so sure. But why not explore the resistance to what I read at Mashable, in the post What Would Jesus Text?

To be an evangelizing church,I believe that we absolutely must be a church of social media, which is vital to spreading the Gospel. Jesus always went out to where the people were, the Apostles went forth to do the same. Of course there are boundaries and guidelines to follow – as there should be. Yet, we must prevail and be tireless in proclaiming the Gospel of Jesus, using all means possible. If God’s Spirit is with us, the work will be blessed.

imagesAn early adopter,I’ve been social media-ing for church since 2007. I have this blog and two parish blogs. One blog is for the parish where I worship, the other blog is for the parish where I work. My new favorite book is The Social Media Gospel: Spreading the Good News in New Ways, by Meredith Gould. I’ve been on podcasts and and also a DVD retreat, talking about this. In September, I will be offering a presentation, Faith and Facebook at the Dominican Retreat Center. I can’t shut up about it. In all of this I have met with welcome – but also a lot of resistance.Trust me – I know resistance. And I know I am feeling plenty of resistance about the idea of everyone looking at their phone during mass. Why?

We are taught that “The Eucharist is “the source and summit of the Christian life.” We also know that mass calls for “conscious, active, and full participation of the faithful,” and the focus of that celebration is on Christ. I wouldn’t call someone on my phone during mass, why would I text them?

Mass is our communal feast, our meal. In those terms, what would you think if your family was texting friends during Thanksgiving dinner? I think that idea might be pretty abhorrent to many – which is analogous why I would resist texting in church as well.

I’m grateful for all the rich, vast, church social media work that goes on, but when I walk in those doors… Off. Goes. The. Phone. In this case, forget WWJD, I’m wondering what you would do. Text? Talk? Tweet? Or pray?

About Fran Rossi Szpylczyn

Pilgrim, writer, speaker, retreat director, social media minister, church secretary - it's hard to believe I was once a corporate executive, but I was. Married to an incredible man, have a spectacular stepdaughter, dog and cat.
This entry was posted in Miscellaneous. Bookmark the permalink.

4 Responses to Texting Church

  1. Liam says:

    “In those terms, what would you think if your family was texting friends during Thanksgiving dinner? I think that idea might be pretty abhorrent to many – which is analogous why I would resist texting in church as well.”
    From what I can tell, there are lots of families that would not find this abhorrent. I do, but I realize I am a dinosaur.
    Mass is not only a communal meal; it is also, in a sense, like a major operation, in spiritual terms. Would we want the surgical team or patient to be texting during surgery?

  2. Randolph Nichols says:

    Being often in an organ loft, I have a good view of illuminated screens of mobile devices. Fran is not making this up, I see people these days texting even at funerals.

    There is obviously a generational dimension to a distain of texting. Being 71, I tend to put the practice in the same category as body piercing. But that’s not an argument likely to persuade. It is helpful, however, to make a distinction between useful application of technology and reflexive addiction. To realize the presence of the latter, one might try giving up electronic devices one day a week the way we used to abstain from meat on Fridays.

  3. crystal says:

    Todd, the link to the DVD retreat doesn’t seem to be working.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s