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Baylor University Journalism Partnership - Churches Examine Smart Phone Use in the Pews

Smartphones are a big part of everyday lives, but are they necessary during church services? Baylor researchers have developed a new model that predicts whether churches have the intent to use smartphones during their services.

The NIMTA model uses key predictors of intentions to use one’s phone during church services. The research is leading local church leaders to consider the options. Charles Ramsey, associate chaplain at Baylor, said he had an “aha” moment when he realized he could learn in different ways.

“Yeah, I'm a visual learner,” Ramsey said. “So if I'm hearing something, and able to look down and see it, and then ideally, I'm able to take a note or underline, all of that just helps me with retention.”

While many believe this is a great addition, some still believe a traditional approach is better. Burt Burleson, Baylor Chaplain said he believes phones are highly problematic.

“One, we're addicted to it,” Burleson said. “So I would rather invite people to develop a practice of setting aside as opposed to pulling it out yet again. My own preference would be to say, let's covenant together in this moment, to let go of our technology, and step into a different space.”

Baylor researchers have recommended a wait-and-see approach to incorporating phones into church services, until there is more research conducted. For now, churches will have to decide on their own if a change is right for their congregation.