Sabbath & Digital Addiction
By Collin Mayjack
Begin with prayer (5 minutes)
Gather together as a Community in a comfortable setting (around a table, on the couch, the floor of a living room, etc.). Have somebody lead a prayer asking the Holy Spirit to lead and guide your time together.
Debrief the last few weeks’ Practice in triads (5–10 minutes)
If you are in a Community of seven or more, consider dividing into small groups of 3–4 people each (ideally same gender).
Spend a few minutes catching up on life…
Then talk through the following debrief questions:
1. What has your experience been with Sabbath over the last few weeks?
2. What has been most difficult about Sabbath? What was most rewarding?
3. What are you learning about God and about yourself through the Practice of Sabbath?
Read this Overview
Have you ever experienced a phantom phone vibration? That sensation that makes you feel as if your phone is buzzing, only to have you reach for it and realize it was just in your head? Or have you ever experienced the compulsory need to reach for your phone, perhaps in a grocery store line, while your friend has gone to the restroom, or simply to avoid the discomfort of silence? What about that moment when you are met with an uncomfortable feeling like grief or anger or sadness, and you immediately pick up your phone, almost subconsciously realizing that it’s way easier to spend a few minutes scrolling than it is to deal with your feelings?
There is no use sugarcoating it: whether mild or severe, almost all of us suffer from some degree of digital dependence. For you, it might be a feeling of anxiety when your phone dies and a loved one can’t reach you, or a deep sense of “fomo” (fear of missing out) when you see a friend’s Instagram story (are they having fun without me?), or the obvious dents that Netflix or reddit make in your productivity.
The demands of our phones are non-stop: another text, another email, another task, another post, another tweet, another invite, another buzz. And yet, Sabbath is a a day set aside to stop, a day to say “no” to the demands of our world and to say “yes” to rest in God and his good world.
Now, there isn’t a command in the scriptures prohibiting technology on the Sabbath. Jesus didn’t have a smart phone, nor did his followers. No one can put “thus saith the Lord” before a command about technology. But what if behind the buzz of our phones and the demands of technology, there was an invitation to greater rest, greater freedom, and greater peace? For this week’s Practice, we invite you to consider the role technology plays in your life and to utilize Sabbath as a day to resist its hold.
Work through these discussion questions (20–30 minutes)
1. How would you describe your relationship with technology?
2. If you have an iPhone, go to Settings and then select Screen Time. Where does most of your time on your phone go? Are you surprised by anything you see?
3. Think about a time where you binged on your phone or on the internet. Can you recall how you felt afterward? Do you notice a pattern?
4. What benefits could be found in limiting your use of technology on the Sabbath?
Discuss the Coming Week’s Practice (5–10 Minutes)
As we’ve said, there isn’t a command in the scriptures about phones, computers, or TVs. All of this is invitation. But if you’re up for it, here’s what we’re inviting you to: try a day of Sabbath without technology (or at least a day with less technology).
Below are a few suggestions for how you can limit your use of technology:
- Decide on a window of time you will spend with your phone powered down and put away. This could be the full 24 hours of Sabbath or a few selected hours on that day. Whatever you decide, try to stick to it! (Note: nothing here is a permanent commitment, so we challenge you to try the full day!)
- Decide on what you will and will not use your phone for on Sabbath. You might decide that you can text or call on your Sabbath, but that you will not scroll on social media, browse the web, or check email.
- Delete the apps you waste a lot of your time on (e.g. Instagram, Twitter, Facebook, News etc.). You can always re-download them after Sabbath!
- Make any social plans for your Sabbath ahead of time so you don’t need to be on your phone the day of (e.g. schedule your call with a sibling, decide when and where you will have coffee with a friend, etc.).
- Set limits on media. There’s nothing wrong with watching a movie or your favorite show on your Sabbath, but a binge is not likely to lead you into greater rest and worship. If you're prone to binging, set a limit for yourself (e.g. One movie, ______ episodes, etc.)
- Explore Sabbath activities that don’t require a phone, internet, or a screen. If you’re prone to vegging on Netflix, try picking up a book. If your family bonds over movies, try a board game or a walk in the park.
Work through these discussion questions before you call it a night (5-10 minutes)
1. How does a Sabbath break from technology sit with you? What would be hard about unplugging for a day?
2. Do you want to try limiting your use of technology during your next Sabbath? How?
3. What do you hope to experience through this break in technology?