Love it or hate it, we are in the digital age.
The digital age has arrived. Everyone from babies to adults find entertainment through any number of devices made available to us.
Attending Church in a digital age
The digital age has arrived. Everyone from babies to adults find entertainment through any number of devices made available to us. They are never far from our reach. Thinking about the sacred nature of sacrament meeting, however, we ought to ask ourselves if it is the time and place to have them out. We have all been to church meetings that were hard to sit through, but you might consider that it wasn’t the speakers’ talks that didn’t keep your interest but how well prepared were you to receive?
Don't just be a robot
I have noticed for me personally, when I don’t come prepared to learn every Sunday, I miss out on the messages that could be a direct answer to my questions. When I am not prepared, I tend to feel bored and start looking for other ways to occupy my thoughts and those darn devices are so handy.
Elder Dallin H. Oaks said, “I sense that some in the rising generation and even some adults have not yet come to understand the significance of this meeting and the importance of individual reverence and worship in it.” 1
Can you see yourself sitting inside the walls of the holy temple and pulling out your phone to check out where you can get the best deal on your next pair of shoes? Or sitting inside the conference center during a session of general conference and searching for tickets to an event? Can you imagine sitting in the upper room with the twelve disciples and the Savior as He taught about the sacrament emblems and feeling bored?
Probably not. There is a time and place for our modern devices, but sacrament meeting isn’t one of those times. Allow me to suggest a few things you can do to get more out of your meetings and put the smartphones away.
- I don’t mean just say a prayer but really connect with your Heavenly Father. Ask Him to help you long before you leave the house for church.
- Play music that is especially touching or meaningful for you on your way to church to set the tone of your sabbath worship.
- Have a question in your heart that the Lord can answer through the messages given that day. Ask Him to help you find an answer during your meetings.
- Read the lyrics of a treasured hymn and if you have time, ponder what they teach about the Savior.
- Keep a journal of spiritual insights, promptings, and messages you receive from the Holy Ghost. Read through it often so that you can look back and see how the Lord has spoken to you at other times. Include the struggles or questions that you are seeking and keep your heart open with those things in mind.
There will always be distractions and disruptions. That is a guarantee in this life. But we can still keep sacred things sacred. We do not attend our meetings to be entertained but to honor our Savior and take part in His sacrifice through that sacred ordinance.
President Spencer W. Kimball (1973-1985) was once asked, “What do you do when you find yourself in a boring sacrament meeting?” He responded simply, “I don’t know. I’ve never been to one.” 2
For many people today, sitting still for over an hour can be challenging. More and more adults and children are needing a little something to assist them during the meeting after the sacrament has been passed. Some members bring something to help them focus on listening while keeping their hands occupied. I have seen many families make it work in ways that are not disruptive or distracting in regard to the purpose of the meeting. Do what you need to do but as “fellow saints”, let us do our best to “always remember Him” (D&C 20: 77 and 79) and turn our hearts to Him more fully as we meet at the sacrament table each week.
1 Elder Dallin H. Oaks, “Sacrament Meeting and the Sacrament”, General Conference, October 2008, Saturday Morning Session
2 Quoted by Gene R. Cook, in Gerry Avant, “Learning Gospel Is Lifetime Pursuit,” Church News, Mar. 24, 1990, 10).