Social Media Sunday, Part 5: Will we do it again?


This post is part of the Social Media Sunday series. Read the introductory post here.

BhK6ESlCMAANspcHere are two stories that will stick with me from our first Social Media Sunday. David was using his iPad to preach, and there were quite a few comments from youth in the church about how cool it was that David was using an iPad in worship!! I commented on one of their statues on Facebook and said, “You do know that I preach from an iPad whenever I preach…right?” They didn’t. And that alone tells us one thing. On Social Media Sunday…for at least that Sunday, they were really paying attention and watching the service. You can make whatever comments you want about what that says about their investment in worship the other weeks, but the key is that they were engaged and present in a different way.

The second story involves a couple of our youth. After worship when I was talking to a group of students, I asked them what they thought about Social Media Sunday, and their responses ran the gamut. Two guys answered my first question; the first (a 9th grader) said, “Yah – it was pretty cool. I liked it. And I got the highest score on Flappy Bird that I’ve ever had!” (Oh Flappy Bird, how I loathe thee – I can’t even get 1 point in that stupid iPhone game)

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Social Media Sunday, Part 4: Social Media in Worship


This post is part of the Social Media Sunday series. Read the introductory post here.

Screen Shot 2014-02-28 at 12.17.04 AMWe began the service with a short conversation about why we were doing Social Media Sunday, and then David held up his iPad and checked everyone in with a video message on the church’s Facebook page.

From my perspective, the service felt like most other worship services. Like I said, we stuck, for the most part, to our normal order of service, so you could be there in worship, not take out your smartphone, and still feel like you were there in a church for worship.

It’s just that the Associate Pastor was sitting up front on his MacBook Pro during worship.

It seemed that many people were really getting into it, posting updates and using the #wpcworship hashtag.

1890638_10202597522926757_2136168654_oDuring my Moment for the Young, I showed the kids various pictures of technology, from stone tablets, to papyrus scrolls, to the first Motorola cell phone, and finally to the iPhone. I shared how these pieces of technology showed that Christians throughout the centuries have used whatever tools of communication that they had available to share God’s love with the world.

If you would like to see the archive of that morning, complete with photos and videos, you can check out our Storify here. If you want to watch the service, you can also do that here.

One thing that at first I found amusing, and then I realized was pretty cool, was the selfies happening in the sanctuary. Now, keep in mind, I’m no stranger to selfies, but I did wonder what others around may have thought about people taking them during worship.

The first couple snapped a shot during a song, and I love it because you can see the couple, and then some of our older folks in the congregation, and the caption reads: “Doing church 21st century style!!”


The second couple also gave Winnetka Presbyterian Church some pure gold in terms of PR and marketing. They obviously look happy, you can see other folks in the background, and the caption is perfect: “The best part of my week with family and friends at Winnetka Presbyterian Church. #wpcworship”


Now, do I think people will be taking selfies during worship every Sunday? No, but the freedom they had to do it on this specific day, and then to share that joy of their Sunday morning worship experience, with all of their friends and followers online…that’s good stuff there.

I was pleased with the comments, photos and other interactions that happened during worship.

Like I mentioned in a previous post, one of my personal goals with Social Media Sunday was to help remove the stigma of seeing someone pull out their phone in worship. It always irks me when people have problems with that. We live in a digital age; our digital natives do everything on their phones, and then they come to church, and the church seems irrelevant in that space in their lives.

I keep everything on my phone, and if I think of something randomly at church, I would like to be able to take out my phone and make a note of it. If I want to look up a passage of scripture in a different version, I would like to be able to take out my phone and open up my YouVersion app. If I hear something cool from a sermon that I’d like to share with folks, I’d like the freedom to be able to do that without being judged by folks in the church, and I’m guessing there are others who would agree.

I think of people who doodle on their bulletins, make notes for themselves (or their spouse sitting next to them) and I don’t see how that is much different than pulling a phone out to do the same types of things.

I’m sure you can’t remove the stigma of doing that in one Social Media Sunday, but I hope that people will feel more comfortable with using their phones, and seeing people use their phones, during worship.

Tomorrow, I’ll share some final wrap-up thoughts about our experience, and whether we’ll do it again.

Being Honest about Our Sin(s)


This sermon was preached on March 5 at Winnetka Presbyterian Church. My texts were Psalm 51 and Isaiah 58:1-12.

Announce to my people their crime, to the house of Jacob their sins.

Yet on your fast day you do whatever you want, and oppress all your workers. You quarrel and brawl, and then you fast; you hit each other violently with your fists.

Wipe away my wrongdoings…wash me completely clean of my guilt; purify me from my sin! Because I know my wrongdoings, my sin is always right in front of me. I’ve sinned against you – you alone. I’ve committed evil in your sight.

Yes, I was born in guilt, in sin…

Hide your face from my sins; wipe away all my guilty deeds!

That’s a lot of talk about sin.

Probably more than most of us, if we’re honest, are comfortable with.

Depending on how you were raised, and if you were raised up in a religious context, you may have different thoughts about sin. I grew up in a more Evangelical context, where it seemed that people had no difficulties talking about sin: their sins, your sins, anyone’s sins, really. It was simply a part of the vocabulary of that religious culture. You knew sin was something bad, something to avoid, and so much of Christian discipleship turned into simply avoiding sin, something Dallas Willard calls “the gospel of sin management.”

At some point, for me, it felt like, perhaps, there should be something more to following in the way of Jesus than just trying to tiptoe around the land mines of sin…never knowing when you were going to trip and set one off and end up shaming yourself, regretting that one mis-step.

And so I found myself reading and listening to and hanging out with folks who talked a little less about sin, and a little more about the radical and inclusive grace of Jesus; the kingdom of God, and how we might be able to partner with God to see God’s hopes and dreams realized in our world. That is the theological space that I still feel most comfortable in, but when I read these two texts for tonight, I knew that I was going to have to preach about sin. It was unavoidable.

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