We are living in an age filled with technology.
People can call or text us at any time of the day or night with an expectation that we will respond within minutes or seconds.
We can monitor the movements of our children and security of our home from anywhere through the devices we carry around with us.
We have virtual assistants in our homes that play our favorite music, order products online for us, and even tell jokes when asked.
Technology: Good and Bad
These devices help us in many aspects of our lives. However, they waste time and distract if we are not careful. This negative side of technology has driven many leaders to eliminate mobile devices from meetings.
Should you stop your small group members from using their mobile devices during meetings? The answer to this question can be complicated and different for each group.
Problems with Allowing Technology at Small Group Meetings
What are some of the potential problems technology, like mobile devices, can cause during small group meetings?
Our mobile devices are designed to interrupt us every time we need a reminder or receive a call, instant message, or email. This is done through different ways including rings, beeps, vibrations and music. Many prayers have been interrupted by these sounds coming from a member receiving a phone call on their smartphone.
- Ineffective listening
It is difficult to not use our devices to check for new emails and text messages in the middle of meetings. Many of us are addicted to our cell phones. This addiction can be so great that people can suffer from a fear of not being able to use a smartphone. It is called “nomophobia” (no-mobile-phone phobia).
When we are using our devices, we aren’t listening to the group conversation. Even when we think we are listening, we are not looking at the speaker so we are not being an effective listener.
- Reduced participation
Attempting to multitask during the meeting with our devices means a lack of presence with the group discussion. It not only affects our focus while using our device, but it also takes some time after we re-engage with the small group before we are fully present again. We don’t switch back and forth between tasks instantaneously so switching between tasks comes with a huge cost.
There are many reasons to ban technology from small group meetings to be effective.
Advantages with Allowing Technology at Small Group Meetings
There are also great ways mobile devices can be used by group members to enhance their participation and learning. Here are a few of those ways:
- Bible reading and research
More and more people are reading (and listening to) the Bible using technology. I have heard people complain about this. Because the Bible is being read from an electronic file doesn’t make it any less spiritual. If that were true, we should all be reading from scrolls.
One of the biggest advantages of having technology available in small group meetings is the ability to quickly search for verses and research topics. This can be a tremendous aid during small group discussions.
- Note taking
Every small group leader should encourage note taking during meetings. Some members will feel more comfortable taking notes on their electronic device, and not a paper journal or notepad. The more convenient, the more likely notes will be captured.
- Prayer requests
Like note taking, prayer requests can be written into a paper journal or notepad. But some members may keep track of prayer requests on an electronic device. I use the Echo prayer app for this purpose.
- Emergency Alerts
There are reasons some of your members need to be contacted in an emergency. Parents need babysitters to be able to reach them. Doctors and other emergency workers who are on call need to be reached if required. Mobile phones allow members to take part in the meeting, but be alerted of an emergency when necessary.
Technology or Not?
Have a conversation with your group members about the use of technology in your small group meetings. If you decide to allow technology, consider following these two tips:
- Announce the need to silence electronic device at the beginning of each meeting. It seems like there is always someone who forgets and needs to be reminded.
- Consider identifying in the small group agreement how devices will/won’t be used during meetings.
Question: What are some ways your small group has dealt with technology in meetings? You can leave a comment by clicking here.