Using a notebook in the pew?

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LawrenceU

Puritan Board Doctor
I would dare say that most who are in the pew today: pen and paper note takers, electronic device note takers, codex researchers, electronic researchers, or none of the above are not active listeners. Active listening is a dying skill. Most people can scarcely remember the main points of a well researched, constructed, and delivered sermon the next day regardless of 'how well they take notes'. And, scarce few can follow rhetorical argument for more than about five minutes.

I don't believe the media used to take notes is the solution. The heart is the solution. The preconception of the use of time under the word is the problem. I do see it as a big problem if one is doing 'research' during the time of teaching/preaching. It is far too easy to miss what is being said. As a matter of fact you may think that the minister/teacher is off because you didn't listen fully. I know this to be a fact. I've had people do that during my preaching in the past. There has been some humble pie eaten after they have listened to the sermon in full context without chasing rabbit trails during the sermon.
 

Puritan Sailor

Puritan Board Doctor
I love laptops and am using one right now. But sermons are different than lectures. God is speaking through the preacher to you. God is present to change you through the preaching of the Word. If your wife sat you down to tell you something important, would you pull out your labtop to type notes and check her facts while she is speaking to you? I could see scribbling down a good point, and perhaps your wife would appreciate that kind of attention, but to fact check and type notes, with your eyes on the screen rather than on her would be most inappropriate. Body language is important both in giving and receiving communication. The preacher is talking to YOU on behalf of God. It's hard to connect relationally if you are too busy typing away and he can't look you in the eye to press home an important point.

I admire your desire to test every spirit, and you must do that like the Bereans, but you must do so in a manner appropriate to the relationship and the purpose of the communication. The pastor is not just a lecturer but a messenger from your Savior. He requires your utmost attention when the Word is preached.

And one more practical problem: The noise of typing in a quiet and attentive church setting would be distracting, no matter what the purpose, especially with older folks.

:2cents:
 

Montanablue

Puritan Board Doctor
I'm completely unfamiliar with the idea of using a laptop in church, so I don't really want to take a stand on when or if its acceptable.

However, I will say that I would find it extremely distracting to have someone typing away by me. And if the computer make beeping noises etc., that would be even worse. I used to get really distracted in class when students had laptops (which by the way, I accept as my problem, not theirs). So, out of kindness for the "weaker sister" I think it might be best if you could take notes in a notebook or journal, and then check things when you go home. I take sermon notes so that I can contemplate things during the week, so I sympathize with your desire to take notes and look things up afterwards, but I think that using a laptop could cause others to stumble.
 

Tim

Puritan Board Graduate
If one feels the need an electronic aid to help take notes during the sermon, then he is almost certainly incorrectly approaching the sermon.

Tim,

Could you explain further why this is so?

I think those who have posted subsequently have done a good job of explaining why this is so. I really have nothing to add.
 

fredtgreco

Vanilla Westminsterian
Staff member
I agree very much with Patrick. There is no way that the typing would not be distracting.

There is another matter - sermons are intentionally formed as they are. Does anyone think that the preacher couldn't rattle off a half dozen Scripture proofs after each statement? Or that he could not give the etymology of all significant words in Greek and Hebrew?

Of course he could. The preacher must decide what gets left in the study. That decision is intentional. It would actually be counterproductive to move in and out of the flow of a sermon by trying to fact-check, cross-reference, use Strongs, etc. Far better to listen actively (yes, Lawrence!) and make an appointment to speak to the pastor afterwards, or listen via MP3 or CD after when you can stop and start.

I'm a huge techie, and I think laptops in a service for the sermon are a really bad idea.
 

Eoghan

Puritan Board Senior
Who mentioned laptops? Not I!

1. I was talking about tiny little laptops with an 8.9" screen. I have a 15.4" laptop which would be far too distracting for church but something the size of a Kindle would be fine. I have taken it to a Bible study at a friends house where we have to consider the Greek and Hebrew. What I object to there is when he pauses to answer an e-mail :lol:

2. I used to discuss the sermon contents with a previous minister but could make no headway as his recollection of what he said was often different from mine. No sermons were recorded which allowed "plausible deniability".

3. Making notes and actively considering the statements made helps me stay awake during a poorly prepared sermon. We are NOT talking about ideal situations. We ARE in large part talking about coping mechanisms.

4. As I think I said elsewhere where the text is clearly expounded, it is de facto the summary required to recall the sermon. I would never consider checking up on my old pastor Rev. Eric Alexander or Rev. Sinclair Ferguson because they stick so close to the text and are at great pains to show from whence they develop their argument - that is the scriptural text.

5. Going back some years now a brother used a Franklin Bookman in church. It had a 4 X 1 inch screen and displayed 3/4 lines at a time. It caused no stir.

6. I think we overlook the increasing use of technology. We cannot "worship" unless we have six miles of electrical cable. Many churches do not expect the congregation to carry bibles or hymn books. Bible verses are projected as plain text, two or three lines at a time, often without chapter numbers or verse numbers. Most churches no longer use hymnbooks, put the hymns up on the board or provide pew bibles.

7. I have not taken my laptop into church. I merely toy with the idea of buying a palm top (out of consideration for others).

8. If this is not an issue it is likely to become one and I expect churches will have to provide guidelines at some point.:worms: Ebooks like the Kindle will push the envelope!
 

PointingToChrist

Puritan Board Freshman
6. I think we overlook the increasing use of technology. We cannot "worship" unless we have six miles of electrical cable. Many churches do not expect the congregation to carry bibles or hymn books. Bible verses are projected as plain text, two or three lines at a time, often without chapter numbers or verse numbers. Most churches no longer use hymnbooks, put the hymns up on the board or provide pew bibles.

I don't expect the congregation to carry Bibles or hymn books, because we supply them in every pew. Does your church not do that? I know some churches don't, but if finances are a consideration, what is a church doing buying (possibly) expensive projector equipment? Regardless, there are so many resources from which churches can get Bibles for free to inexpensive, that it would do a disservice not to have them in the pews or chairs.
 

Puritan Sailor

Puritan Board Doctor
I see no difference between a projector and a hymnal. They both are visual aids to provide the words to sing. Other than promoting more dependence on electrons there's nothing necessarily wrong with an overhead projector. :2cents:
 

Edward

Puritanboard Commissioner
WCF. The Directory of Public Worship.
Of the assembling of the congregation and their behaviour in the Publick worship of God.
Paragraph 5: The public worship being begun, the people are wholly to attend upon it, forebearing to read anything, except what the minister is reading or citing....and so on.

If the laptop or any device were being used to reference anything other than what the minister is reading or citing, then it seems WCF holders shouldn't use them. Even going off on other passages of scriputre is a distraction to what is being preached. I'd find it very distracting.

You need to be a bit careful about conflating the Confession with the Directory.

In the PCA, I'm required to subscribe to the Confession and Catechisms. The PCA has a separate Directory of Worship, only a few sections of which have constitutional authority and are considered binding as part of the Book of Church Order.

So while some folks here have made some very good points as to problems with computers in worship, it would be wrong to suggest that such use would be a violation of the Confession of Faith.

-----Added 8/24/2009 at 10:01:24 EST-----

WCF. The Directory of Public Worship.
Of the assembling of the congregation and their behaviour in the Publick worship of God.
Paragraph 5: The public worship being begun, the people are wholly to attend upon it, forebearing to read anything, except what the minister is reading or citing....and so on.

If the laptop or any device were being used to reference anything other than what the minister is reading or citing, then it seems WCF holders shouldn't use them. Even going off on other passages of scriputre is a distraction to what is being preached. I'd find it very distracting.

You need to be a bit careful about conflating the Confession with the Directory.

In the PCA, I'm required to subscribe to the Confession and Catechisms. The PCA has a separate Directory of Worship, only a few sections of which have constitutional authority and are considered binding as part of the Book of Church Order.

So while some folks here have made some very good points as to problems with computers in worship, it would be wrong to suggest that such use would be a violation of the Confession of Faith.
 

Edward

Puritanboard Commissioner
[

Speaking of distractions, the sign language interpreter in the front was a distraction when it started, but folks soon adapted to it.

The difference is that a sign language interpreter may be necessary for someone that is hearing impaired to actually receive a sermon. However, a laptop is not a necessary tool for anyone to hear and receive a sermon.

For hundreds of years men have listened to sermons without the aid of laptops or any other recording device. In fact, it is argued that people paid far better attention during services in prior times than the typical churchgoer today! Our attention span is so short, especially within the U.S. Personally, I find that there is no longer any reverence during worship anymore! People eat, drink, doodle on papers, text on their cells, doze off, carry on conversations.......anything as long as "their consciences don't bind them" and its okay! Not only are these things disrespectful to those around them, and the Pastor who is giving the sermon....but mostly to God Himself!

And it should also be noted, that this discussion is not about taking notes, but if you look at the OP you will see its actually about looking up things on a notebook during a service! I don't find it necessary to understanding or even receiving the message of a sermon. I think its great if we have questions, or if a sermon prompts more thoughts.....but it is best to study those things on our own time. God is more than deserving of our undivided attention when we gather to worship HIM! HE deserves our complete reverence and awe!

A distraction is a distraction, even if it is for a legitimate purpose.
 

Pilgrim72

Puritan Board Junior
Interesting point. I just thought (a little off topic), there is a distraction that I don't mind, and that's when parents bring their children into the service. I think it's important for the child to grow up getting used to listening to the pastor preach, and worshipping the Lord with others, etc.

So, there are times when the child may cry or crinkle up paper or whatever, but (1) they're just children & (2) I think it's worth it in the long run...
 

Edward

Puritanboard Commissioner
Interesting point. I just thought (a little off topic), there is a distraction that I don't mind, and that's when parents bring their children into the service. I think it's important for the child to grow up getting used to listening to the pastor preach, and worshipping the Lord with others, etc.

So, there are times when the child may cry or crinkle up paper or whatever, but (1) they're just children & (2) I think it's worth it in the long run...

I agree. Although a trip to the vestibule can be appropriate if they get too far out of line.
 

Ruby

Puritan Board Junior
Yes Edward. Thanks for that caution. I acknowledge is not part of the Confession. Still think it is worth considering.
 

rpavich

Puritan Board Freshman
I have given this some consideration from yesterday's posts, (I was the one who regularly brings his laptop everywhere and to church also.) and I think that I've been in the wrong all this time.

I'm thinking that the posters who said that note-taking in general is a distraction to the real reason we are there are correct.

And a thank you to Pastor Greco for making it more clear; concerning what goes on behind the scenes of a sermon...I never considered that aspect of it.

I'm going to leave the laptop home and see how it goes; as I said...I've been leaning that way anyway... :2cents:

bob
 

Eoghan

Puritan Board Senior
I'm thinking that the posters who said that note-taking in general is a distraction to the real reason we are there are correct.

bob

I was having similar thoughts, althou in a different regard - reading books. I am forever noting down points and usually end up with a folded A4 sheet covered in page number references. It does however break up the flow of the book.

This struck me again when listening to lectures from PRTS, :graduate: where I was trying to take notes of everything said. I ended up listening for pleasure and then listening a second time to take notes.

Funnily enough I never really consider taking notes when listening to mp3 sermons from audiosermon.com. Perhaps that is because I have them on file and can go back to them at a later date??
:p
 
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