In general, these are the new rules: We assume people are always plugged in and available. We want an answer to our communication right now. We must answer our phone or text at the moment we receive it, no matter where we may be.
It is now acceptable to stop a personal conversation to take a call. It is OK to step out of a meeting to answer the phone. It is considered multitasking to text while listening to someone else talk. These were not the rules less than a decade ago. Then these types of behaviors were seen as rude, but they are now par for the course.
As a church body, we need to be aware of this shift, and as much as we may not like it, we must be tolerant and not offended when people text in church or check their phones in a Bible class. This is the norm and is not the exception.
In addition, congregations need to embrace immediacy as much as they can when it comes to communicating changes in worship schedules or cancellations of any kind. Many churches I know have an app that people can use to check the times and dates of events at the church at one click or swipe.
But for me, the drawback of this immediacy shift is that it makes us a very impatient people in all things—even when it comes to our communications with God. We pray for something and then we want it NOW. We witness to someone about our faith and we want them to believe TODAY. We want to know God’s plan THIS MINUTE.
But as we all know patience is a virtue and something that the Bible lets us know is valuable.
Be patient, therefore, brothers, until the coming of the Lord. See how the farmer waits for the precious fruit of the earth, being patient about it, until it receives the early and the late rains. —James 5:7
Rejoice in hope, be patient in tribulation, be constant in prayer. —Romans 12:12
Better is the end of a thing than its beginning, and the patient in spirit is better than the proud in spirit. —Ecclesiastes 7:8
Good things do indeed come to those who wait and it is our calling to be patient with ourselves, be patient with others and be patient with God, just as he has been patient with us. Let us never forget that, even in this immediacy environment.