Smartphones Cause a Tension for Millennials

We know the stereotype that millennials don’t like to unplug from their smartphones. We’ve got teens confessing thatsleep texting is a real phenomenon in their world. While others are sharing the inappropriate places that they’ve texted.

The church recognizes this stereotype and we’re trying to get plugged in order to reach these digital natives. From integrating social media into worship to periscoping key leadership meetings for the whole church, pastors and church leaders are trying to communicate in networked spaces with millennials.

Yet as we know the stereotypes are not all that millennials are. In fact, we try to recognize the diversity and complexity that make up the generation labeled millennial. And when it comes to their smartphones some millennials aren’t head over heels in love with it. In fact many, recognize that it is a hindrance to their relationships with other people. According to a recent Harris poll conducted on behalf of the Webby Awards, 77 percent of the millennials surveyedbelieve that in 10 years relationships will be less authentic because of our reliance on digital communication.

We’ve already seen organic ways that millennials have dealt with the distractions of smartphones in interpersonal communication. The creation of the phone stacking game and family practices of ditching digital devices before family time are signs that millennials value intentional times of unplugging for connecting.

How can the church nurture the value of intentionally unplugging in order to connect with others while holding in tension the value of digital communication?

Charge Stations as Connection Areas

Provide charge stations in high traffic areas of your church where you want to encourage people to stop and talk with each other. While they are sitting around waiting for the phone to charge might be an opportunity to connect with those in the same situation. Offer environmental cues to encourage the behavior of unplugging in order to connect.

Retreats Unplugged

Create retreat and mission experiences that invite millennials to unplug in order to connect with others and the purpose. You might invite participants to go to an area with little to no service coverage for a time.

Eucharist As Connection Point

As a part of the communion invitation, provide people the opportunity to lay down their smartphone in order to connect with Christ offered in the broken body and shed blood. Don’t make it a rule but make it a playful rhythm of the community that nurtures the value of unplugging to connect.

What other ways could your church nurture this value in millennials?

[photo credit pabak]

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