Luther would be so proud.
In Germany, Churchgoers Are Encouraged To Tweet From The Pews
In Germany this year, the Protestant church is celebrating 500 years since Martin Luther brought about the Reformation. Today, as the number of churchgoers dwindles, the clergy is turning to new media to appeal to those with little time to attend worship in person.
In the eastern city of Magdeburg, the monotone peal of a single church bell calls a modest flock of parishioners to evening prayers at the Walloon Reformed Church of St. Augustine.
As the faithful file into a High Gothic church where Martin Luther once delivered a sermon, most fumble around in handbags and pockets, looking for their cellphones.
But instead of dutifully switching off their phones and putting them away on this Friday evening, these 40 or so churchgoers take a pew and bow their heads over their lit-up devices as if they were prayer books.
This is a Twitter service, where the congregation is encouraged to tweet about the liturgy and share their prayers online.
I have occasionally answer questions about use of handheld devices in church. I even wrote something about the use of an iPad by the priest for Mass (you would probably need 4 iPads for the TLM):
There is nothing wrong with them in principle. They are just ways to convey texts, like a book. However, there are a lot of people in the pews next to you who could be distracted by them and who may not associate them with “texts”. They may think of these things as games or distractions or whatever. Just as it took a while to shift from the scroll to the codex, the connotation of the handheld will need some time to shift. It could be that when you are looking at the text of the antiphon being sung in Gregorian chant, someone thinks you are “playing with your phone”.
There is another aspect. If it wouldn’t be disruptive, I don’t see a problem with sending weekly donations for the parish via a handheld at the time of the collection. Moreover, I know a parish or two with card swiping pads at the doors or in the narthex for those who stop in, etc.
I don’t see anything sacrilegious about these uses of technology. However, we have to be sensitive about other people around us.