I downloaded the Gospel Library onto my phone just last week. The kids had taken my scriptures out of the church bag right before we left (probably to make room for more obscene amounts of crayons) and I was left without the standard works. I dislike not having my scriptures with me. I like to follow along with the discussion. I like to read the footnotes and the dictionary. And if I’m bored with the way things are going, I can just read in the chapters around the lesson. So I pulled out my phone in Sunday School and downloaded the library. Not only does it have the standard works, but also the last two General Conferences. Sweet!
Then I peeked around the room. Five years ago you would’ve seen almost no phones in a family ward Sunday School; you would’ve seen a great deal more phones out in young adult wards. While the mix was decidedly in favor of leather and paper scriptures, I saw iPads and smart phones being used across the classroom.
I’ve owned a cell phone for sixteen years and rarely pulled it out of my bag in church (never had it ring in church either–knock on wood.) The temptation was there to read or send texts, but I had a personal commitment that I wouldn’t use my phone in a way that I found irreverent. It’s different today. Yes, the text are still there, but so is my email inbox, Facebook, Twitter, and a whole host of games. I don’t struggle with those options. I made a line for myself a long time ago that I wouldn’t mess around on my phone in church. You and I both know what “mess around” means.
However, I’m just as likely to get a text from the Primary president asking if I can play the piano in Primary (in 15 minutes) as I am from a friend who wants to chat. I really am scrolling through Elder Ballard’s talk from October 2010 General Conference. Sometimes skipping around in the scriptures is faster on my phone–having scriptures hyperlinked from a talk, or the lesson, to the verse in the scripture is awfully nice.
I do sense a bit of a generation gap. I’m sure that some older people are a little horrified to see me and my fellow technophiles staring at our phones. I can’t begin to think how they feel about iPads.
So tell me: what are your rules about technology in church? Have you embraced the standard works on your Palm? Do you pinch and scroll Gospel Principles on your iPad? Do you find the very idea shocking and disrespectful?