THE SERVANT GENERAL
THE WAY FORWARD IN CHRIST
OF MEETINGS AND CELL PHONES
Today we face very challenging times for the life of society
and even for Christian communities. Our time, especially for
the youth, is preoccupied with the Internet and social media.
While these can be very useful even for mission, they also
pose serious distractions, helping to diffuse our focus on
the more important matters at hand, especially in our day-to-day
us in CFC-FFL, in household meetings, service meetings, teaching
events, assemblies, pastoral dialogues, etc., the cell phone
has become ubiquitous. It is often there by one’s side,
ready to be glanced at or taken hold of every now and then.
Such moves of course distract from the interaction that is
supposed to be happening between or among those who are present.
one of the biggest challenges to evangelization and to community
life, believe it or not, is the rapid advance of social media
(it has a lot of positives of course). One reason is because
friends and brethren are now in touch with each other in many
ways and at all times, including actually seeing and interacting
with each other from a distance. So it can weaken the need
to come together for a few hours, for example, for a household
meeting, especially considering the hassles of traffic (like
Manila) or long distances (like California).
the use of smart phones and other gadgets has become addicting.
Do not many of our brethren constantly look at their cell
phones during household meetings and service meetings? No,
not during breaks, but during the discussions! In fact, I
see many brethren, including leaders, have the cell phones
on the desk in front of them, but not their Bibles. To paraphrase
Jesus' saying, "You cannot serve God and your smart phone."
Here then is my suggestion: No use of cell phones,
iPads or other such devices in households and service meetings
(unless of course you are presenting with a PP). For the
household, from the time you enter the host's home, fellowship
starts, so focus on the brethren. For service meetings, when
you arrive, focus on fellowship and chitchat. Get back to
your cellphone only when the household or service meeting
ends and you are already in your car (for the household) or
have said goodbye (for the service meeting). No cheating,
like checking your messages when you go to the toilet (one
thing we are doing is helping cure your addiction!). We give
this time to the Lord and to the brethren. We focus and are
You say you are not addicted. Then prove it to the Lord. Again
to paraphrase Jesus: "Could you not focus on me for one
hour (family meal) or two hours (household meeting) or three
hours (service meeting)?" Such focus should not just
be when we are at Eucharistic adoration (very few do that
regularly), but during the times when we are supposed to focus
on God and be formed and guided by Him. Wait, I just had a
horrible thought: might some of our brethren, during their
prayer time or Bible reading, have the phone beside them and
occasionally glance at it or answer calls or beeps? Oh my
on silent mode is not acceptable. Turn the thing off! It is
not just about checking your messages or whatever, but also
being distracted by a phone call. The only acceptable reason
for putting a phone on silent mode (versus turning it off)
is for those who expect an emergency phone call (like a doctor
or like some nurses in the USA who are required to be on standby
us truly focus on the Lord and on each other. Do not allow
Satan, yes Satan, to use these modern devices to distract
you. Satan is the ruler of the air(waves). Check out our theme
verses for this year (that is, verses preceding and after
the actual theme verse). You "lived following the age
of this world, following the ruler of the power of the air"
(Eph 2:1). No Internet yet at that time, so Paul is speaking
about the invisible realities (the air), the spiritual war
raging all around us between angels and demons, and the reality
that the evil one has dominion over the world (the air being
all the space between God in heaven and human beings on earth).
But now Satan has found a new and very effective tool, which
is the Internet and social media. Just consider the massive
spread of pornography and sexual predators.
these modern devices, all of us survived a few hours of not
having access to a phone or email or whatever jurassic devices
we had. And we had more time to pray, read the Bible, attend
meetings, serve, fellowship, etc. Admit it, how much time
do you devote to your smart phone that is not directly related
to the Lord and our work?
We are always looking to strengthen community life. This is
one creative way, though perhaps radical for many. But as
one who has no cell phone, but who has tons of communication
with the worldwide community, and who relies on such communication
to keep the mission going, thus finding email and wifi crucial,
I tell you it certainly can be done. I can only do such communications
when I have access to my laptop, which I leave at home.
would be great if, when we begin to learn the lesson and overcome
our addiction, we do the same in our homes as well, during
meals, LBS, or family discussions.
course, all the more, we take this posture when we go to Mass.
Cell phones should be turned off as one enters the church,
and turned on only after one leaves the church. Please
notice that I do not say when the Mass starts or ends.
Here is one scenario that we might be facing in the future.
It seems farfetched now, but it might be coming.
“The Lord be with you!”
CONGREGATION: “And with your spirit.”
PASTOR: “Will everyone please turn on their tablet,
PC, iPad, smart phone and Kindle Bibles to 1 Corinthians
“Please switch on your Bluetooth to download the sermon.”
“Now let us pray committing this week into God’s
hands. Open your Apps, BBM, Twitter and Facebook, and chat
“As we take our Sunday tithes and offerings, please
have your credit and debit cards ready.”
“You can log on to the Church WIFI using the password
“The Ushers will circulate mobile card swipe machines
among the worshippers:
A. Those who prefer to make electronic fund transfers are
directed to computers and laptops at the rear of the Church.
B. Those who prefer to use iPads can open them.
C. Those who prefer telephone banking, take out your cell
phones to transfer your contributions to the Church Account.”
The holy atmosphere of the Church becomes truly electrified
as all the smart phones, iPads, PCs and laptops beep and
Final blessing and closing announcements.
A. This week’s Ministry Cell Meetings will be held
on the various Facebook group pages where the usual group
chatting takes place. Please log in and don’t miss
B. Thursday’s Bible study will be held live on Skype
at 1900 hours GMT. Please don’t miss out.
C. You can follow your pastor on Twitter this weekend for
counseling and prayers.
God bless and have a nice day.”
And Jesus wept ....
of the Internet)
A FINAL WORD.
Not a directive.
 How about using the cell phone or iPad to look at scripture
passages being taken up? The better way is to have an actual
Bible and to read that.
 There could be other legitimate uses of electronic gadgets
during meetings, such as playing music on mp3 if there is no
guitar or keyboard, finding Bible passages during study or discussion
using Google as concordance, reading announcements from the
Home Office at the end of the meeting, and the like.
 How about if we use the cell phone to read the scriptures?
The word of God is spoken so that it can be heard. It is not
to be read by the congregation. This should only be done if
one goes to a foreign-language Mass and cannot understand what
is being read.