Mobile Phones and Church: Not Always What You Think

ChurchWhat do you think of when you think about mobile phones and church services? Most people would think about the embarrassment (or annoyance, if you’re not the guilty party) of having a phone go off in church. However mobile phones and church services are not mutually exclusive. In fact, with a recent church blessing, mobile phones might just be finding a way into churches around the world. Whether it’s using an app to remind you to pray or thanking your god for mobile phone developments, how do religion and cell phone service go hand-in-hand for you?

Mobile Phones Receive Church Blessing:

 Reverend Canon Parrott has received a lot of media attention recently after making the unusual choice to bless mobile phones (as well as laptops) during one of his church services. The church, St. Lawrence Jewry, is the official church of the City of London Corporation. The blessing was the reverend’s way of updating the old Plough Monday ceremony. In the original ceremony, a farming tool was brought to the church for a blessing to recognize the tools used in daily life. The church is located near the busy financial district where people are not using farming tools today. The reverend thought it was a good idea to bless the actual tools used by parishioners to make the ceremony relevant to their lives. The parishioners whipped out their phones during the blessing; this might be the most number of phones wielded openly in church during all of history.

Mobile Phone Masts on Churches:

Reverend Canon Parrott may have cause for concern about a backlash against his unorthodox blessing. That’s because in the past people in the UK haven’t had a positive reaction to the church’s willingness to support the mobile phone industry. Way back in 2002 there was a huge bout of controversy when the Church of England struck a deal to allow mobile phone masts to go up on church spires. Parishioners hated the idea even though it would mean more money for the church. Would there still be such opposition today when mobile phones are such a staple of modern life? It’s hard to say since people have so many intense feelings about both religion and technology.

Mobile Phones in Church:

One issue where there isn’t a whole lot of debate is the issue of mobile phones being used within churches. Most people generally agree that it’s against both church norms and mobile phone etiquette to use your phone in church. The general rule is that you should completely silence your phone in church; vibration isn’t silence. However, not all people comply with this norm. Some people have suggested that churches should adopt a mobile phone policy. Are we coming upon the days when the reverend will need to begin church services with a reminder to turn off your phone? On the other hand, there is some push by religious leaders to encourage compassion for people who choose to have their mobile phones in church for them. For example, one church declared a “cell phone safe zone” in the church. What this means is that parishioners are encouraged not to have their phones at church, or at least to silence them, but that nobody will be looked down upon for bringing their phone to church services with them. This shows acceptance of the fact that people may have reasons for needing to have their cell phones on during church even though it’s widely accepted that this isn’t a place where your phone needs to be turned on.

Church on your Mobile Phone:

People may generally agree upon the fact that you shouldn’t use your cell phone in church. However there is a lot less agreement about how much you should use your mobile phone to access church when you’re not there. There are many different options for connecting to the church via mobile phone. Those options include:

Mobile phone prayer apps – There are phone applications designed to help you with your prayers. Some remind you to pray. Some provide you with simple text message prayers on a daily basis.

Other mobile phone apps – There are tons of other entertainment-based and knowledge-based apps for mobile phones including apps for downloading bible passages, apps for religious games and apps connecting you to Christian music radio stations.

Text alerts remind you to go to church – Do you need to be reminded that it’s time to go to church? Set your cell phone to let you know.

Accessing church via the mobile web – You can watch religious sermons on YouTube or read religious texts on today’s mobile phones. Does this take the place of going to church? Should it?

Connecting to church members via mobile phone – The mobile phone can be used as a tool for connecting all church members. Mass text message, IM programs and productivity tools may all be used to this end.

Reverends and Sexting:

Mobile phones might play another interesting role in the church; they may serve to monitor the activities of church leaders. For example, there was a case last year in which a 61-year-old Reverend was caught sending sexually-explicit text messages to a sixteen-year-old girl.

Where is it all Going?

We can’t deny that mobile phones are going to be a part of many people’s church experiences in the years to come. Will we see a widespread acceptance of the use of technology to link religion and communication? Or will we continue to see a lot of people who want to keep mobile phones and churches as separate as possible?

One thought on “Mobile Phones and Church: Not Always What You Think

  1. I am actually working on the design of a technology whereby users’ incoming and outgoing calls may be blocked by the Mobile Phone Operator (Service Provider)while they are within a targetted precints, such as churches, banks, schools, etc… Of course, besides the technolgy, there is an administrative drive whereby the laws of the land will have to be modified for the sake of etiquette and security.

    Was wondering if anybody knows of any such tools/hardware (or website)which actually captures signals from mobile phones which are NOT being actually used. Or any help for that matter



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