Recently on a Facebook discussion page the question was posed about how we felt if someone was doing something else whilst listening to the sermon in church. It was surprising how many people find doing something with their hands can help their brains to focus. Others talked about their experience on the Autism spectrum that permission to fidget is important to getting through longer concentration times. I recalled that in times of fatigue I would close my eyes to listen – with less other stimulation for my tired brain to process.
People have always been able to read the Bible and some even taken notes during a sermon – and seen as committed not distracted (though no-one checks if it is the shopping list or a doodle). But those with phones out and tapping the screen are seen as rude and not listening – yet they may be looking up the Bible passages, taking notes, searching a new word or idea from the sermon before they forget it. They may even be tweeting about how it was a very provoking message.
Thinking about the crying baby and the exploring toddler; the unpredictable fidgets of those with dementia (I could use a twiddle muff at any age); and adding in those used to phone fidgeting, and those sharing their autism experiences; adding in the natural fidgets of every age – I wonder if there is a place for Fidget Church?
Fidget Church would give permission to knit or doodle, or to stand and stretch legs that stiffen if sat too long. Basically permission to do and be as you choose, no judging or tutting allowed – just the presumption that if you have given up time to be at church then you are there to worship and to consider the ideas from the readings and sermon, if you choose to do something alongside then that is fine, you know what helps you. Besides why should the children be the only ones to respond to God’s word in colouring and crafts?
Yes maybe there is a place for Fidget Church.
Rev Helen Roberts.