Howdy, Rev Gals!

Now that I've officially joined the webring, rather than just lurking about, I have a question for ye who follow the meet and greet link here, or any other readers who happen to be in some form of professional ministry:

How many of your parishioners (or constituents, or whatever you wish to call them) have your cell phone number? Is it published, e.g. in the bulletin or church directory? Or is it a closely-guarded secret?

The question-behind-the-question of course has to do with technology and professional boundaries: how can we/do we/don't we use modern communication technology as a ministry tool, without letting the 24/7 accessibility take over our lives?

I just got my first cell phone. By "just," I mean a week and a half ago. I have resisted the pull of modern technology for so long because:

  1. I'm cheap.
  2. I have a mild phobia of telephones.
  3. I like being inaccessible. I don't want to be on call all the time. And besides, I'm really not that important.
But cell phones are useful for finding people when you're in a large or crowded place, and they make one's mother feel better when one is driving across the state of Virginia in a high-mileage automobile by oneself. So I bit.

Of course, the judicious cell phone user is not a slave to the device; she knows how to turn it off, to shut it in a drawer, to ignore it. And I guess that culture has adapted enough so that knowing that someone has a cell does not equate with expecting them to be always available. Still I wonder how it works in practice.

How is it with you? Do you own your cell phone, or does it own you?


Kievas said...

Welcome to RGBP! As a technology consultant (some of the time), my job is to find and recommend the appropriate technology to my clients. However, I always mention the problem of "technology overload"--being connected and available 24/7. You should be able to set boundaries and limits, and times when you are totally offline.

Anonymous said...

Our pastor turns off his phone at certain times of the day, as he has the same issues with cell phones as you do.

Our church leadership, however, is much more spread out. If someone can't reach the pastor, they call me, the head lay person, and I'll take care of the issue. I'm not sure what your denominational or congregational structure is like, but that works well for the Mennonites.

Iris said...

Welcom to RGBP! I just got a cell phone in August. I often forget to turn it on and only my Head of Staff and Admin. Assistant have the number. So far, no complaints!

Julie said...

Welcome to RGBP!

So we are in a weird situation. We are church planters. Our church currently meets in our home, has about 35 average attendees, and my hubby's cell phone is the church phone.

But voicemail and assignable ringtones are there for a reason...

Revem said...


I have a mobile phone and the number is public knowledge.

For me the freedom comes in 2 steps:
1 Turning it off
2 Training people to leave a message if I don't answer.

People are learning, I will always reply to a message, but I won't always be available.

St. Casserole said...

Welcome! Glad to have you with us at RevGals!

My cell number is in the bulletin. The congregation knows that if I am talking with someone or doing a Great Holy Something (naps, talking with my kids or staring at trees) I won't answer.

They know I'll return calls.

jledmiston said...

I'm in the middle here: tend to give it out to people in emergencies (and used to tell them I'd hunt them down if they shared my cell #) but now, I just don't answer it. Messages are returned as needed.

You could even set boundaries in your greeting: "Friday is my day off and I don't answer the phone on Fridays." etc.

Welcome to Rev Gals and if you drive through Northern Virginia, I'm just off the highway.

Pink Shoes said...

Like several others, I'm of the mindset that I'll give you the number, but I won't always answer. That's what messages are for. For awhile this summer I had my cell number on my church voicemail, ie, "in case of an emergency..." However, the only people who ever used it were non-members looking for financial assistance so I removed the number; figured that my folks who were in need of pastoral care had my home number, which is printed in our bulletin.

Great question! Welcome to the RevGals.

Sally said...

Welcome to revgals!

As far as the phone goes; the leadership team have my mobile number, but under strict instructions not to hand it out to everyone!

I turn it off during meetings/ pastorl visits, and on again afterwards

the reverend mommy said...

I have mine on all the time, but set it to vibrate when I have meetings/classes/whatnot. I have caller ID and will call any number back that calls me.

I find it invaluable.

It's my main phone number, except when I'm running low on minutes....

LutheranChik said...

Hello! I'm also a tardy cell phone owner...although now I'm practically surgically attached to it.

I find, though, that I guard my cell phone number...only a few folks, like my pastor, have privy to it. When someone wants to get ahold of me regarding church stuff, I direct them first to my e-mail, then to my work phone (I'm a layperson with a day job).

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