Wednesday, November 05, 2014

The View From Here: My Daughter and My Phone During Worship

A couple of weeks ago, I brought my children with me to worship. My wife was playing organ at one church. I was leading worship at Heinz Chapel for the campus ministry. How to get the kids to the zoo for the Zoo Boo that afternoon? Yes, come with me, because I was closer. No problem, although being a campus ministry service, there is no nursery available for young children, like my four-year old daughter.

So I was leading worship, but not preaching. That task fell to my Episcopalian counterpart that morning. My daughter and eight-year old son sat with me in the front pew. My oldest child, the eleven-year old boy, found a seat several rows back, behind a pillar where he could remain apart from us. And of course my daughter got antsy. So like many parents, I handed her my phone. She played a few games, but ultimately went on to her favorite activity, taking pictures. I did not count how many pictures she took, but it was quite a few. A couple of days later, I sat there deleting them. For about half an hour. At some point during the deletion marathon, I paused and realized that these photos, bad as they were, were recording the view from my daughter's perspective. Given her perch, what exactly was there to grab her attention. It appears that several things piqued her curiosity... some of them were actually service-related... but how long could anyone expect to sit still if there wasn't something to grab... and hold... his or her attention.

Countless shots of her feet and/or the floor

The pew, my jacket and the stained glass 

Her foot again... but somehow turned it into an animated gif. How did she do that?  

 Me reading along with the lector

Brother... who appears put off by the close up 

 The lector... again. 

Brother would not do well with paparazzi 

 Worship selfie

Something caught brother's attention 

Sermon time 

 Hymnal racks

 Woodwork of Heinz Chapel, pulpit, chancel and altar

Some things clearly caught her eye. Things that were going on during the service or in the space around her. The most often snapped pictures though were of her feet and the immediate space around her.

Maybe we should set more youngsters, heck why not everyone, loose with cameras during worship to see what they are seeing. What holds their attention? Are there obstacles, both literal and figurative, in their way? Of course some of these things are natural for a four-year old. Not everything will be overcome. And we would hope that as they age they begin to participate more fully. We cannot make worship appeal only to four-year olds. We do not need a lowest common denominator worship. But it cannot hurt to ponder occasionally how everyone perceives our worship... Four-year olds included.


Anonymous said...

Isn't this a Lutheran blog -- why is an Episcopalian preaching in a Lutheran church?

Brian Bennett said...

It's a joint worship service with the Lutheran and Episcopal campus ministries.