Preacher’s Toolkit: How Can I Help My Congregation Listen to Sermons in a Culture of Distraction?

Sebastian Kim and Sebastian Y. Kim | October 5, 2017

Local churches are dealing with a generation driven to distraction at a whole new level. Smartphones are an omnipresent source of distraction, and they can prevent people from wholeheartedly engaging in weekly corporate worship. Texts and email alerts pull them out of the moment, and if they get bored there’s always an alternative activity close at hand. 

Sometimes worshipers use their phones during the sermon: I’ve seen people giggle or grow downcast at something on their phone while their pastor was preaching weighty matters from God’s Word. 

Five Major Challenges

To explore the engagement of adult Christians during Sunday sermons, I interviewed 14 members of a local congregation, all in their late teens to early 30s. From my interviews and recent physiological/neurological studies, I discern five main challenges smartphones pose to hearing sermons.

1. Addictive Technology

Recent research reveals that smartphone use releases dopamine, which causes intense pleasure. National companies and app developers keep improving their products to stimulate reward centers in the human brain, so users find it harder to stop using the apps. Almost all of the younger respondents said they keep using their phones during Sunday morning preaching; they do this partially because the technology is designed to be addictive. 

2. Short Attention Span

To read the rest of this article, visit