Since I’m not traveling my queue of podcasts is backed up to March. I was listening to an episode of Device & Virtue tonight while mowing and they discuss if church or communion is really possible online.

Here it is if you want to have a listen:

The important takeaway for me was that to take anything seriously you must be “present”. To me, that means giving it my full attention mentally and physically.

You can be physically right next to someone but on your phone (not present).

Or on a Zoom call paying close attention or actively participating (present).

My problem

Google Maps directions for public transit in portant
Sometimes I’m as unfocused and inefficient as these directions I got from Google in Portland.

I’ve done a poor job being “present” since COVID caused our church to start meeting online. I watch, but it’s much harder to give it the same level of gravity as meeting in-person.

Frankly, I shouldn’t be surprised. I often catch myself checking Slack or replying to emails during work meetings – even if it’s a topic I deeply care about. Why would church online be any different if I’m thinking about it in the same way?

I hear you saying, “David, put your phone away during church!” And I do. Mostly.

But as I’m writing this, I’m starting to realize that it’s not enough to be without distraction. I think being present means maintaining the mindset of an active participant throughout the activity.

And this is just like most lessons I learn from church. I can already see how being present and active will make me a better employee, husband, father, and nearly all other parts of my life.

What can I do?

Perhaps artificial rituals can help me get in the right headspace and prepare to be present and active. It doesn’t mean watching when it’s convenient for me, but making time, dedicated (is consecrated too strong?) to this specific purpose. What else…

Perhaps it’s time to revisit my prayer life and consider again why we don’t do the things we want to do.

Do you have your own process for being intentionally present? I’d love to hear about it. Leave a comment below or reach out directly.

Categories: church

David Needham

David Needham is a Developer Advocate at Pantheon where he focuses on developer education and training. When he's not blogging about productivity at or speaking at conferences, you can probably find him with his bicycle-loving family playing board games in Champaign, IL.


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