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Technology Etiquette 101

. Posted in DCE's Blog

When West Tennessee Presbytery met at our church, I heard about an interesting situation. One of our people who was passing the offering plate during worship said that an individual sitting on the end of a row was engrossed in texting, reading email, or something and had no awareness that someone was at the end of her row trying to give her an offering plate. Finally the CPCG usher handed it past the woman to the person sitting beside her. The usher was laughing, but still perplexed by the behavior.

That made me think about what is proper etiquette in 2013. After all, Emily Post never had to deal with these kinds of situations.

We all know that sometimes things don’t go perfectly. We mean to send an email to someone and input the wrong address. We leave out a word and it changes the whole meaning. We sometimes get preoccupied with our technology. Of course, we’re not alone. How many Congressmen have found themselves in awkward situations by their use of technology?

Using our Gadgets

  • Be conscious of where you are.

Ever been in a waiting room and had someone drone on and on about something private? Maybe you felt like you were eavesdropping or maybe you were angered by the insensitivity. It’s best not to take personal conversations in public.

  • Be sure your friends are more important than your Smartphone.

If you’re having lunch with a friend, be in conversation with him/her and not engaged in texting or taking calls. Obviously an emergency situation is an exception.

  • Know when to leave your device off or at home or hidden in your car.

Sometimes those decisions are not so clear-cut, but it is important to think this way.

  • There are times not to text.

A few of these times are during dinner, at parties, in meetings, during worship, while driving.

Social Networking

  • Don’t share anything private.

This should be fairly obvious, but it’s best not to post photos or status updates that you would be uncomfortable with certain people seeing or reading.    

  • Behavior offline and online should be polite.

Act like you would face to face. Remember that you are communicating with people and they should be treated with respect.

  • Reach out to friends.

One of the upsides of social networking is keeping in touch with friends. When they post a concern, such as a move, a family death, etc., it is good to respond to them.

  • Don’t be stressed by trying to follow and friend everyone.

To some degree this will depend on the network.

Video Chat

  • Try to prevent technology glitches.

Check your system before your conversation with others.

  • Call from appropriate locations.

Take into consideration your physical surroundings.

  • Try for a natural experience.

Look at the person to whom you are speaking. Also, engage the person instead of being distracted by scanning updates, etc.

Recently I had a family member who was dying. She had a granddaughter and great grandson who lived in Maryland and could not be here for the five-week process. However, they Skyped her; it was a wonderful way to stay connected. Technology allows us to be in contact in ways that were previously impossible. As we navigate this new territory, maybe the Golden Rule can be operative. Or, another way to think about it is that we are engaging people and how does what we do affect others? What do you think?

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And What Kind of Teachers Do We Want?

. Posted in DCE's Blog

Some 5 or 6 weeks ago, two of the Sunday school teachers were at the church getting ready for their upcoming class. Their class had been focusing on the stories about Jesus in the Gospel of Mark. The next session would focus on the feeding of the 5,000. In Mark 6:38, we read, "And he said to them, 'How many loaves have you? Go and see.' When they had found out, they said, 'Five, and two fish'."

Well, here came these two teachers laughing. They were beginning to prepare a follow-up activity and to cut out patterns for each child: 2 loaves and 5 fish each. Well, one wonders how that kind of mistake can happen.

As one who has edited church school curriculum, I immediately thought of that poor editor and wondered how many times the phone had rung. What caused the error to happen? Lots of things could have happened. The art could have been beyond deadline and the editor really didn't get a chance to see it. Or, maybe the editor just had a mental lapse. Who among us has not gotten Mary and Martha confused! We weren't sure, of course, what happened.

Each fall Christian Discipleship shares expectations of our teachers/leaders:
• Spend adequate time in preparation.
• Be in the classroom before students begin arriving.
• Use session-approved curriculum resources.
• Create an open, inviting environment which speaks of caring and nurturing.
• Know and care for your students so that you can recognize specific needs as you plan.
• Pray for your students.
• Plan for a substitute when you need to be absent and inform others on your team.
• Seek ways to grow spiritually and as a teacher/leader.
• Attend worship and be involved in the total ministry of the church.

I was so grateful that these teachers were preparing early so that they had time to adjust to a mistake in their curriculum; that seems to come under the very first expectation. Maybe we need to add another expectation: Have a sense of humor. These teachers did.

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Being Disconnected from CPCG

. Posted in DCE's Blog

Being diagnosed with pneumonia has made we feel some disconnections. For example, I was unable to participate in the church workday on Saturday. I will not be able to contribute to the Fall Family Fest. I'm probably not fully present when I am here.

In addition, last week was a busy time for an organization where I lend some volunteer services. I missed meetings on Tuesday and Wednesday, a workshop on Saturday, and a planning meeting Sunday afternoon.

It made me realize just how quickly involvement can change. Okay, I'm really out of my "pity party."

It didn't take me long to realize that I wasn't really disconnected from my community of faith nor my volunteer associations. Yes, things changed. I had to find out from others about how things have gone. It meant that I had to take some initiative. I moved from being at least a small contributor to being a recipient of calls, emails, conversations, cards, food, caring.

Maybe having pneumonia has some positives.
• As one ages, I'm sure there will be lots of other adjustments to life. This illness has made me look at how to pace myself.
• It has made me be a little more flexible. This I can do and this I can't. I'll need to be proactive in staying connected to those things I value.
• There's humor even in illness. I can walk and Bill can stay awake so we're still a team!

But, this experience has posed some questions for me:
• What role do each of us play in staying involved/connected to our community of faith?
• How proactive does CPCG need to be in keeping people from "slipping through the cracks?"

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A Reminder, Perhaps?

. Posted in DCE's Blog

Just before Bill was taken in for his recent surgery, a nurse came into the room and took a quick look around. There were 4 of us in the room: William, two friends, and me. Hurriedly she said, "He's getting ready to go to surgery. You can have a short prayer and say a quick good-bye."

Of course, I don't know why the nurse did that. Maybe in the past some patient had a minister who prayed, and prayed, and prayed. Maybe in the past family members had prolonged their good-byes. Or, did the nurse see prayer and a good-bye as perfunctory? Or, was her agenda (getting a patient to surgery) the most important thing happening?

The five of us laughed when she exited. As it turned out, the hospital/surgery schedule was not of such urgency that a short prayer and a quick good-bye were necessary. Thankfully, William had a meaningful prayer as he would have done without her instruction; we said our good-byes as we would have without her direction.

Sometime later, I reflected on that with regard to what happens in the church or at least, whether I have been the "church nurse" at times.

  • When I've taught, have I hurried the activities or allowed time for significant sharing by the students?
  • In ministry team meetings, has completing the agenda been the most important task to me?
  • In fellowship time on Sundays, have I been "present" to someone who needed to talk or am I off to do the next thing?
  • Am I attuned in small group to a struggle a member needs to share?

Maybe that nurse isn't the only one pushing for a "short prayer" and a "quick good-bye." Thanks for the reminder, hospital nurse!

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So What Do Our Children and Youth Hear and Remember?

. Posted in DCE's Blog

Halloween is looming. There are costumes and candy to purchase. As this Halloween approaches, I remember an incident that occurred on Halloween when I was just a small child.

Halloween that year was on a Saturday night. My family lived on Brunswick Road in the rural area of Bolton. That road was not nearly so busy as it is today.

On Sunday morning my family was always scurrying to get to church on time. That particular Sunday I woke up to learn that my parents had discovered that some pranksters had come into our backyard during the night , taken our garbage can, and dumped the contents in the road in front of our house.

Well my dad went out to pick up the contents of the garbage can. Back then people didn't put the contents into bags as we do now so it was a rather messy task.

Job completed, he came back into the house and chuckled saying, "You know they were really considerate in their prank. They dumped the garbage in the middle of the road so cars could still go down both sides of the road."

I think I expected his reaction to be one of anger or at least annoyance. It was a rather harmless prank. Maybe in his youth he had been involved in some pranks, too. Maybe he just chose to see the humor in it. Strange, I never said anything to him about that, but obviously remember it to this day.

Our CPCG children, and youth like me, will have many such opportunities with lasting impressions. Maybe at this time of the year it will be at the Fall Family Fun Fest! Perhaps it will be in Sunday school classes, or First Fridays, or SNH, or retreats, or children's choir. Casual conversations are another possibility. So is worship. And, don't forget family life, the arena for many, many remembrances.

You know, we adults are probably still experiencing these same kind of opportunities in our small groups, our Sunday school classes, worship, choir, ministry teams.

Reflect on your own experiences or those of your children and youth that have been shared with you.

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