Preaching and the second screen

Research published yesterday by in the UK by Digital Clarity, confirms what many have believed for some time about trends in TV viewing habits. Amongst the under-25s ‘social TV’ is on the increase, where people watching TV are simultaneously communicating with their friends via a second screen on Twitter or Facebook. 80% of those surveyed said that they used a second screen, with 72% of them using Twitter.  This transforms TV  viewing from a passive to an active experience, and allows those who are geographically separated to watch TV ‘together’.  Reggie James, founder of Digital Clarity, commented ‘Social TV has changed this completely by turning programmes into online events where you have to watch them as they happen’. Instead of passively absorbing the content of a TV programme, people are discussing it, laughing about it, and even suggesting the way it should go.

A trend which I have started to notice in the past month or two is people tweeting live on a Sunday from the sermon they are hearing. They are not doing it in vast numbers, and it doesn’t happen every week, but the hashtag #sermon or #sundaysermon is becoming a familiar sight on my Twitter feed. I find myself slightly torn over this.  On the one hand, as described in my post on circular preaching, I welcome anything which turns preaching into a more interactive experience. People tweeting about it means that they are engaging more of their brain with the process of listening, which has to be good. On the other hand, the sight of people looking down at their phones whilst I am preaching, as if uninterested, could be distinctly unnerving. Also, does it mean that they are thinking more about how they can translate the message into 140 characters than how they can translate it into their character? I would love to know what others think about this.

Some of you may remember the sequence in Life of Brian where a group of people at the back of the crowd listening to the Sermon on the Mount all mishear Christ’s words differently. Perhaps today it might look something like this: