O’FALLON, MO. — The spotlight shone on the Rev. Mike Schreiner on Sunday as he preached about who goes to heaven and how earthly relationships will translate in the hereafter.
Off to Schreiner’s right, the steady glow of dozens of cell phones lit up the section where the teens of Morning Star Church sat listening to the sermon, thumbs furiously working little keyboards.
High above the 700-seat sanctuary, Amie Haskins, 27, the director of worship, sat in the church’s control booth receiving their text messages on the church’s cell phone. She screened out some (most were about whether pets would be in heaven — a point she knew Schreiner would be addressing later in the sermon), and typed others into a computer that was connected to Schreiner’s laptop next to him. During Schreiner’s 30-minute sermon, Haskins received 35 questions…
Schreiner answered just three of them, but the church’s embrace of texting — this was the third week of its experiment — has already improved the dialogue, according to Schreiner, and energized many of Morning Star’s younger members.
“I love it,” said 14-year-old Kailey Elfstrum, who had her text all ready to go even before Schreiner’s sermon began. “You get to ask the pastor anything you want while he’s talking.”
Her friend Maddie Howard, also 14, agreed. “You don’t want to admit your sins to the rest of the church, but this way you can still ask something important,” she said…
For more senior members of the congregation whose thumbs are less dextrous, or perhaps arthritic, Morning Star also allows its members to question the pastor the old-fashioned way — with forms placed in the weekly bulletin they can write on and submit in the collection plate.
But it’s not just Morning Star’s young members who are pleased with their church’s experiment. “I think it’s neat,” said Bill Sullivan, 60. “I hope they keep it up.”
Mike O’Brien, 44, said his 13-year-old daughter and his wife have texted questions to the church’s pastors. “It beats walking out of there with a question burning in your head and not having it answered,” he said.
Schreiner said that after just three weeks of taking text-message questions, he can feel a difference in his preaching.
“It gives me a little more of a teaching role,” he said. “It gets back to Jesus Christ and the Sermon on the Mount where I picture Jesus having a conversation with the people. With texting, it becomes much more of a dialogue.”
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HT: STL Today