When cell phones and texting were first becoming popular, this question was a “no-brainer”. They were a distraction. They kept students from paying attention. They had the possibility of being used for things that the parents would not approve (much less God).
However, as with any new technology, attitudes towards cell phones have changed. First of all, it would be an extreme challenge to find a teenager who does not own a cell phone (and most of them are even smart phones). Secondly, new ways of using these technologies have developed. Finally, whether parents use the cellphones themselves, or not, they have come to view them as a standard appendage on the end of their child’s arm.
Many youth pastors and leaders continue to ban cell phones from their youth services. Is this practice warranted? Or, should it be re-examined.
Those who ban the cell phones from their services cite various reasons, including the following:
- The cell phones are a distraction. The students may be using their phones during the service to text each other or even their friends, who aren’t in the service, instead of listening to the sermon.
- Students are using the cellphones to access things they shouldn’t be accessing. Parents hold the youth pastors and youth leaders responsible for what they allow the students to do while they are under their supervision.
While these reasons are valid, is it logical to ban cell phone usage for these reasons? Or, would it be better to find ways to work around these reasons?
Reason #1 deals with students using the phone for things that distract them from the sermon. But, are we really deluding ourselves into believing that the cell phone is what is causing the distraction? Are these not the same students who will pass notes or whisper to each other if they don’t have a cell phone? And, frankly, texting is less distracting to the others around them than whispering and passing notes.
Reason #2 deals with students accessing things they shouldn’t access. Sure, we can ban the cell phones from the youth group because of this. But, is this ending the problem? Are those students ONLY accessing things they shouldn’t access during the youth service. As one of my sons likes to say, “It’s a condition of the heart”. When we ban the cell phones from the youth service with no further teaching than, “You can’t have your cell phone during the sermon!”, are we, in fact, teaching them that it’s ok to access those things as long as they are not “in God’s house” while they do it?
Am I saying that we should ignore the two reasons that were mentioned? Absolutely not! But, would it not be better to teach proper usage of their cell phones, instead of simply banning them from services?
Sure, allowing cell phones in the youth services may require extra adult supervision. I agree that there may be some who cause a big enough distraction that their individual cell phone will need to be taken up and handed back to them at the end of the service. But, should that isolated incident mean that all of the students miss out on the benefits of using their cell phones during the service?
Yes, I know there are some of you that I just shocked with that last question. I know you are thinking, “BENEFITS??? But what possible benefits could there be??”
Possible Benefits of Using Cell Phones During Youth Services
- HOLDING their attention
- publicity for your youth group
- student interaction with your sermons
These are only a few of the benefits that can come from using cell phones during your youth services. There are many other ideas, as well.
Beginning tomorrow, I will be posting a weekly series about various ways to use cell phones in your youth group and how to overcome the obstacles.
In the meantime, I would also like to hear your comments. Do you think cell phones should be completely banned from the services? If not, do you have ideas for ways to overcome the obstacles? Or, do you have ideas for creative ways to actually utilize cell phones during your sermon (Remember that almost every one of your students is carrying a mini-computer in their pocket. Considering that, the possibilities are endless!)
So, what do you think? Share some of your ideas, comments, questions and concerns about using cell phones during your youth services.