We’ve got a cell phone remembering challenge in our church services right now. Three times in four weeks. Once with the person unable to figure out how to make it stop.
(None of them have been quite as odd as the rooster crowing ringer that went off awhile back when I was preaching. I was in the last three sentences, the ones where my meanderings for the previous 29 minutes finally come together. And a rooster started crowing. I was sure that I hadn’t betrayed anything.)
I was thinking about how we could respond. We already put up slides and from time to time make oral announcements. We could escalate the warnings with images of phones being smashed or people being embarrassed or both. But the emphasis ends up being on the phone, on the disruption.
What if we focused instead on listening. The phone ringing isn’t a problem because phones are a problem. Or because it’s rude. The problem is that I have the attention span of a gnat. The problem is that I want to hear, that I need to hear, the message that my friend has been working on all week, the message that God often hands him to aim at my self-centered heart.
We’re not trying to build a culture of politeness in church. Those of us who teach or preach often don’t care about polite. What we care about is connecting with people who want to listen.
As I was thinking about this idea of wanting to listen, I thought about Zacchaeus, a guy passionately aware that his focus on work was leaving him empty. So he found where Jesus was and climbed a tree to be able to see him. Incredibly impolite and undignified. But Z didn’t care. He wanted to listen. And Jesus connected.
Here’s a “I want to listen” video draft I made. I’m curious about what you think. And don’t forget to turn your phone off this weekend.
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