Central Baptist Church of Southington Connecticut


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Turn Off Your Phone

  • Jim Townsley
  • Sep 19, 2016
A few years ago I wrote an article entitled “Answer the Phone.” Sadly still there are pastors who do not answer their phone or promptly reply to important messages. I still implore every pastor to make himself available to his flock and to respond promptly to its needs. As times have changed with the expansion of smartphones a new problem has resulted. There are people, including pastors that have become addicted to their phone. They can’t put it down. I know some individuals that actually sleep with their phone. I have witnessed people that have almost had a panic attack when they lost their phone. The cell phone is a great invention, but it comes with many risks. The internet, which now can be accessed on a smartphone, provides many exposures to sin that before was relatively unavailable. This modern invention has contributed to the breakup of couples, the waywardness of teenagers and even strongholds of addiction that can lead to disastrous consequences. 
What did preachers ever do when they had no phone? How could they possibly care for their flock? The reality is that before phones were invented for almost two millennium pastors shepherded their flock effectively without the aid of a smartphone. It is not necessary to be in constant contact with every member all the time. Some people will waste the preacher’s time by constantly bringing every issue to him. Often these folks are unwilling to follow the preacher’s advice and instead of heeding godly counsel they want the preacher to listen to their every need and solve every problem. It is important to answer the phone, but with the invention of the cell phone it is not necessary to answer every call immediately. There are some important considerations to keep in mind with the use of the cell phone.
Proper etiquette should be followed in the use of the phone.  There are times when it must be turned off. When a preacher retires at night it is time to turn off the phone. Ask yourself, could this wait until tomorrow? Also, while having devotions it is important to turn off the phone and eliminate all unnecessary distractions. Time alone with God should be uninterrupted. Delaying returning or answering a call for a few minutes is appropriate. When counseling or meeting with an individual the phone should be silenced or turned off. How important would you feel if you were seeking counsel and the preacher continually kept answering the phone and talking to someone else? At church services and funerals the phone should be off and I would suggest it be placed in a safe place away from the service so that it cannot go off accidentally. When on vacation with the family it is time to turn off the phone and not answer calls. In fact it would be advisable to leave a voice message stating you will be unavailable for several days. When on a date with your wife, turn off the phone. There are many public places where speaking on the cell phone is not only annoying it is inappropriate and a poor testimony. I personally witnessed a grieving mother answer her phone during the funeral of her son and amazingly talked with the caller for a few minutes during the service.  
Preachers need to use the phone because it is an important part of today’s ministry. Every successful pastor I know uses his phone extensively. However, there must be times where a preacher is disciplined enough to know when to turn off his phone! Don’t allow the phone to be a downfall of your life; use it as a tool to minster to your people. Keep in mind there are times where you must “turn off your phone.”