Six Lessons Learned by Giving up Social Media

by: Emily Kauffman and Morgan Leavy

Morgan Leavy is in her freshman year at Hesston (Kan.) College, majoring in Psychology. She enjoys musical theater, photography, traveling and being with her friends. Emily Kauffman is currently a sophomore at Hesston, majoring in Communications and minoring in Bible. She has developed a passion for the church and a desire to explore how technology is affecting our society and relationships.

This article originally ran in the Hesston College Horizon.

Sherry Turkle, author of the book, Alone Together: Why We Expect More from Technology and Less from Each Other, writes, “This is our moment to acknowledge the unintended consequences of the technologies to which we are vulnerable, but also to respect the resilience that has always been ours. We have time to make corrections and remember who we are—creatures of history, of deep psychology, of complex relationships, of conversations, artless, risky and face to face.”

In a search to rid ourselves of, as Turkle puts it, the “unintended consequences” of social media, we decided to give up social media for Lent this year. We were in need of a break. A break from the constant mindless scrolling. While the past 40 days have been full of temptation and loss, we have learned so much about ourselves and the world around us.

Here are the big six:

#1 We became more aware of how social media affects our relationships.

On the first day of Lent, I sat down at lunch with some friends. Immediately, I recognized that the five or six people surrounding me were on their cell phones. Continue reading

The Cost of Distraction

by Jill Schmidt

Jill Schmidt is a member of Mountain States Mennonite Conference’s Dialogue Resource Team. She lives in Denver. This piece originally rain in MSMC’s Zing newsletter.

One of the biggest changes we face as people of faith is the society-wide impact of rapidly evolving technology and distractions.

This past month, I spent a weekend retreat with a group of First Mennonite of Denver youth. We intentionally relinquished our cellphones for 24 hours as we explored the meaning of Sabbath in our lives.

Through this process, I came upon a prayer in the 2010 winter edition of Seasoned with Peace, a daily meditation book compiled by Susan Mark Landis, Lisa J. Amstutz, and Cindy Snider. These lines from the January 5 prayer contributed by Don Clymer stand out to me in particular, “I confess that I too often plunge myself into busyness to distract myself from the pain of the losses I have experienced personally or from the brokenness of the world I see around me….Help me not to deviate from your paths because of the distractions around me.”

As I observed the responses of our youth varying from boredom and distress to relief and comfort, I found myself wondering how times have changed so quickly.

I am considered by many to still be a young adult and yet cell phones were not an active part of my life until my 20s and the internet was just catching speed in high school. And here we are, so dependent and connected to others and information at all times, and yet simultaneously Continue reading

Technology: The Third Space of Faith Formation

by Rachel S. Gerber 

According to the Barna Research group, studies show that people who consider themselves as “regular attenders” of church actually only show up one time every four to six weeks. As a pastor of faith formation, this is significant!

How, in this day and age, where Sunday morning attendance is less consistent, does one care for faith formation and work at building authentic relationships?

We often think of faith formation as happening in the home (parents as the primary influence) or at church. But with a decline in attendance, which also leads to a decrease in parent’s confidence in their own ability to provide and promote faith development, where does this leave us?

We can’t change the commitment levels of people but we can make the most of the various touch points we do have with them, utilizing resources to connect with them on a more regular basis. Technology is one way that this can happen. Technology can aid in making those connections still happen even when we can’t gather together physically. Obviously face-to-face connection is the best (always!), but technology helps to fill the gaps when that just isn’t possible.

Technology gives us 24/7/365 access into people’s lives. Why do we think that faith formation is only limited to a Sunday morning service or activities that take place in your church building? I want to encourage us to consider the “digital space” as a legitimate space in which faith formation can occur, in addition to home and congregation.

The possibilities to connect and form faith with 24/7/365 access is exciting and offers such potential to undergird what is already happening at home and church is limitless.

We already see this happening in our schools through a “flipped classroom” pedagogy approach. Continue reading

Former Amish Woman is Now CEO of Successful Heartfelt Creations

by Linda Bontrager 

The Discovery

I will never forget the day I picked up a rubber stamp for the first time. I had bought a little stamp set for my kids and I was showing them how to use it. I remember picking up the stamp, inking it and pressing it down on the paper. As I lifted the stamp and saw the image it was that “AH-HA!” moment. It was one of those moments in my life when I realized I had discovered something amazing and it would shape the course of our future.

Our family for generations back is old­ order Amish. Our education went up to 8th grade in a one room Amish parochial school. Growing up infused with tradition, legalism and living in a Northern Indiana rural farming community was not conducive to thinking “outside of the box” or “being creative.” We did not have access to any stamp or scrapbook stores in the area and hiring a taxi to shop for stamps was not an option at the time. But the stamping bug had permanently bitten me. Continue reading