This Easter, rather than making a fuss about the cell-phone-wielding people in attendance, we encouraged them to pull out their cell phones and participate.

By Kevin Carr, Kingsway Christian Church, Avon, Ind.

Quick quiz: In what setting do you usually hear, “At this time we want to remind you to please silence all cell phones and electronic devices,” announced to a cramped crowd of people?

A)    Movie theatre

B)    Commercial airliner

C)    Church service

D)    All of the above 

If you answered, “All of the above,” you’re correct.

And, can I make a confession? Along with the kids texting during the movie, Alec Baldwin and the guy whose phone always rings during the sermon, I don’t usually pay much attention to that announcement. My iPhone is a part of my life. Shut it off? C’mon! My Bible is on there. I take notes on there. (And, so do a lot of the people in our services.)

This Easter, rather than making a fuss about the cell-phone-wielding people in attendance, we encouraged them to pull out their cell phones and participate.

We partnered with our friends at Jarbyco to conduct a live, text-to-screen campaign during the Easter sermon. (More about Jarbyco in a minute. Keep reading for a special offer.)

Early in the service, we painted a picture of the guilt and shame we all feel as a result of our sins and the sins of others. After brief instructions, the campaign came up on the screen. Immediately, responses began pouring in. Here’s how a few people responded to the prompt, I feel guilt or shame as a result of:

  • Feeling satisfied (almost happy) when something bad happens to someone who has hurt me
  • Leaving my home and my daughter
  • Wasting the last two years of my life in sexual addiction
  • Thoughts of ending my life when I hit rock bottom
  • Carrying on an affair via text
  • When I’ve disciplined my kids in anger
  • Giving up my baby for adoption – and no one knows about it

Heavy, powerful stuff. You can see the entire campaign here. The submissions stayed on screen to build tension through most of the sermon. They served to amplify the amazing gift of forgiveness, freedom and life that God gave us through Jesus – the Easter message.

During communion, we displayed God’s responses to our texts in the form of several vital verses like, “I have removed your sins as far from you as the east is from the west,” (Psalm 103:12), and, “No one can snatch you away from me,” (John 10:28).

Set up was simple. We contacted Jarbyco with our concept and they had us ready to go in short order. They customized the campaign to match our Easter graphic package. They were responsive, making several adjustments for us along the way. And, if you are wondering, yes, we were able to moderate the texts before they came up on screen. This was a huge safety net for our leaders who were understandably skittish about what might end up on screen for a few thousand people to see. 

Here’s the special offer: Want to do a text-to-screen campaign at your church? Jarbyco has offered a $50 discount to any church who mentions Fishhook when signing on to do a campaign. How cool is that!

So, would we do it again? You bet! The campaign was the perfect way for us to make strategic use of the devices people would have refused to put away no matter how politely we asked.

Who says you should turn off your mobile devices in church?