January 2, 2019 | Andrew Hurst
Many would argue that the rise of smartphones has affected the attention span of both adults and the next generation. Furthermore, just how does the use of smartphones affect the attention spans of churchgoers during a sermon? Should pastors adjust their preaching methods to accommodate the widespread use of smartphones?
Bearett Wolverton serves as the Lead Pastor for Grace Covenant Church of South San Francisco. Wolverton recently presented a paper to the Evangelical Homiletics Society (EHS) entitled, “Turn with Me in Your iPhones… How the Smartphone has Changed Preaching.”
“Most churchgoers in the 21st century do not bring their bibles to church anymore,” said Wolverton in his paper. “Instead, they utilize their smartphones — and for much more than just reading scripture during his sermons.”
In Wolverton’s paper, he assessed the challenges presented to preachers in the smartphone age, how the use of mobile devices affects the attention spans of audience members and lastly, eight strategies for preaching effectively in the smartphone age. Pulling from a wide range of studies and statistics and accounting for the rise of verbal and public speaking communication mediums such as Ted Talks, Wolverton concluded that public speaking is still an effective communication tool today.
“I think it’s important to realize that advancements in technology do present some challenges but preachers can still relay the gospel message effectively through oral communication and good preaching,” said Wolverton. “I think in my paper I shared how public speaking is still a very powerful way to present a message.”
One of Wolverton’s influences to present the paper to the EHS was Dr. Jeff Magruder, a Professor of Bible and Church Ministries at Southwestern Assemblies of God University (SAGU).
“Dr. Magruder was influential in helping me learn the importance of the study of homiletics. I appreciate his friendship and continued mentorship, even almost a decade after graduating from SAGU. His input on my EHS paper was extremely helpful.”
Wolverton, a Waxahachie native, attended SAGU from 2007 to 2009 receiving a bachelor’s degree in Youth and Student Ministries from SAGU.
“SAGU was vital to enhancing my foundation for biblical learning and practical ministry,” said Wolverton. “I think SAGU challenged me in getting a firm grip in advancing academically in those areas.”
After SAGU, Wolverton pursued and completed an M.Div. at Gordon-Conwell Theological Seminary.
“My years at SAGU really prepared me for my future studies I did in seminary,” he said. Wolverton also met his wife, Jennifer, at SAGU. Jennifer graduated from SAGU with a degree in Children’s and Family Ministry.