One of the most distracting things that can happen during a church service, second only to crying babies and sleeping deacons, is when the phone rings. You know the drill. The pastor is drawing the Scriptural points together and the power of the message is hitting home… then Satan personally dials your mobile number and next thing you know cows are mooing or we’re all bopping to the Nokia® tune. Of course everyone in the building is craning to see where this monstrous interruption has come from… everyone that is, except for the owner of the phone who is still obliviously caught up in the message, though somewhat puzzled as to why the pastor looks distracted all of the sudden.

If you’ve been there, done that, got the t-shirt, then you’ll probably give a thumbs up to these suggestions for mobile phone etiquette at church:

  • When you enter a church building, turn your phone off or put it on silent.
  • If you expect an urgent call, put your mobile on silent, sit in the back of the room, and leave quietly when it rings.
  • If you should ever forget to turn your phone to silent and it does ring during a service (not that this has ever happened to me… eh hmm), don’t walk out of the room to answer it. (Yes, I’ve seen this done more than once!) Kill it quickly. And whatever you do, don’t answer it right there in the middle of the service! (Yes, I’ve seen this done too!) Unless you have some reason to suspect it’s a matter of life or death, there’s no reason to answer it. Believe it or not, it can wait.
  • And here’s my favourite. If you should ever forget to turn your phone to silent and it does ring during a service, make sure to turn it off once you’ve rejected the call so we aren’t bopping to the Nokia® tune again three minutes later. (Yes, I’ve seen that one more than once as well!)

Grace to you.

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About Jason Harris

Dr Jason Harris is a writer, pastor, and academic. He has authored multiple books, articles, and papers including his book Theological Meditations on the Gospel. Jason has a PhD from James Cook University as well as degrees in theology, music, accounting, and research. Jason has lived in Cairns, Australia since 2007 and serves as pastor at CrossPoint Church. You can contact Jason at


  1. Raoul Snyman 19 March, 2008 at 6:42 am - Reply

    ooooooo…. a personal pet peeve of mine!

    What is more important than the Word of God? Surely your Mom or Dad who might call aren’t as important as the Lord’s teaching?

  2. Jason 21 March, 2008 at 2:56 pm - Reply

    Wednesday night in prayer meeting I realised my phone was on half way through!!! Serves me right for writing this! :P

  3. RoSeZ 14 July, 2009 at 9:14 pm - Reply

    I like this story:

    “Sitting in the back of the room during our Sunday evening service, Audri (67) was perched on her special chair, due to her various back problems. Suddenly the ring of a muffled cell phone startled us and everyone wondered whose it might be.
    Looking back over her shoulder, Audri realized it was hers. Instead of grabbing her phone and running out of the service to talk to her friend, as if God and His Word aren’t as important, Audri, in her hunger to learn the Word of God, grabbed her purse and THREW IT OUT THE DOOR INTO THE HALLWAY JUST BEHIND HER! After the service she retrieved it and went about life as if nothing had happened. Apparently the Lord means more to her than her phone, purse, money, make-up, driver’s license, family photos, car keys or anything else she might have had in there.”
    — Missionary to South Africa, Jerry Wilhite

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