Going Dark – The Recap!

DarkSo, I’m done with my “Go Dark” week.  “It’s finally over,” or “is it over already?”  I guess it depends on your perspective.  Either way, I’m all plugged back in now. I’ve been through about 300 e-mails, and I’ve caught back up on facebook and twitter. It’s amazing how little time it actually took to check in on the important things. It makes me wonder why I waste so much time on it. I did notice tonight that I have so many articles waiting in Google Reader that it doesn’t give me the actual number – just says 1000+. My best estimate is around 1,500. I’m thinking I may need to reduce the number of my subscriptions.

In case you didn’t read my article (http://blog.stocksohio.com/2009/07/13/im-going-dark-join-the-challenge/), I decided to turn off all my electronic gadgets for a week (except during work and for work).  I started last Saturday at midnight and finished this morning at midnight.

As I said in my original article, I am not adverse to technology.  It is a wonderful tool and offers limitless possibility.  The problem seems to be when, instead of using technology, we allow it to master us.   When technology starts to dictate that which I do and that which I do not do, that’s a problem.  When technology robs me of time with my God and with my family, that’s a problem.  When checking facebook or looking at the stats for my blog becomes an obsession, that’s a problem!  I’m not sure I was at that point, but I decided to do this little experiment to make sure that I was still in control rather than the technology being in control.  So, the plan was it would all go off for a week, and we would see what happened.

In short, I did pretty well.  I noticed some things I had never noticed before.  I spent more time with my kids.  I spent more time with my God.  I got more sleep every night, and I caught up on an awful lot of reading.  Along the way, I learned some things about myself and about the lure of technology that I had never noticed while embroiled in the middle of it.  That is why I am writing this article.  I want to share what I found out.

I will say that I found it to be a positive enough experience that I’m planning on making it at least an annual event.  Next year, I am hoping to get more people to join in so that other can remember, or perhaps experience for the first time, the pleasure of Psalm 46:10 – “Be still and know that I am God.”

So, I kept a journal (more like a list) for the week.  My goal was to write down two things 1) those things that I got accomplished which I felt I would not have gotten accomplished if all the electronics had stayed on; and 2) any observations.  At the risk of boring you, here’s what I wrote:

Friday night (technically Saturday because it was after midnight):

  • Finished the book Think Orange by Reggie Joiner.  Great book! You’ll see more about it later on this blog.
  • Continued reading The Fabulous Reinvention of Sunday School by Aaron Reynolds.  Another great book that you will see more about in this blog in future posts.
  • I didn’t really miss technology tonight, but then this is just the beginning.

Saturday:

  • We had to pick Jacob up at horse camp in the morning.
  • It was nice not having to grab my cell phone.  I can’t remember the last time I purposely left my cell phone at home.
  • I cheated already.  Tricia handed me the cell phone when her mother couldn’t find the place.  I started to justify why I had to cheat, but then I realized it was better just to admit it and move on.
  • Had a great conversation with the kids on the way home – before everyone else in the car fell asleep that is.
  • We stopped at Boston’s Pizza for lunch.  I purposely sat where it would be hard to watch one of the TV’s, but I still found myself gazing from time to time and having to force myself not to watch.  Weird!
  • On the way home I wanted to stop at a bookstore I had never been to.  I missed having the GPS in my phone to look it up.  I drove all over the small town looking for a phone booth that would have a phone book with a yellow pages.  We never did find one.  I guess I never noticed that pay phones are going extinct.
  • Went to Saturday night service at church.  Our old worship leader was back.  I forgot how gifted he was.  It was a great service, but it really drove home that the one thing I would miss most this week was listening to worship music.
  • Continued reading The Fabulous Reinvention of Sunday School. Without the television and computer to distract me, I read almost the entire book today.

Sunday:

  • Up bright and early and off to church for baptism class this morning.  I took Lyndsey with me.  It was odd not to have the music on in the truck, but Lyndsey and I had a great chat.
  • Great prayer time on the way to church without the music or IPod on.
  • Served in the K-1 room during the 2nd service.  Again, I was struck by how big the impact music has on my worship experience.  I wonder if not listening to it all the time has made it seem more precious to me.
  • Had a meeting after the 2nd service about the upcoming VBS.  I’m helping with games this week.  Noticed how easily we ended with “Let’s just communicate by e-mail.”  Good thing I made that once-a-day exception for personal e-mails. J
  • Finished the last couple of pages of The Fabulous Reinvention of Sunday School.
  • Spent some time planning for VBS games.
  • Went to a membership class at church for most of the evening, so no problem avoiding technology for that time period.  I enjoyed spending time with my wife too – even If we were listening to other people speak most of the time!
  • My wife and kids expressed their first bit of disappointment that we wouldn’t get to watch our normal Sunday night program together.
  • Realized again how important technology is for some things.  I had to have Tricia check our bank balance online to make sure we didn’t need to transfer some money.  I suppose technically this might have been cheating by proxy.

Monday:

  • Didn’t check my e-mail, facebook or my blog in the morning.  I didn’t even realize that this had become a bit of a routine for me.  I got to work 20 minutes earlier though.
  • I had great prayer time in the quiet truck again on the way to work that actually brought me to tears at one point.  Here I thought all the sermons I usually listen to on the way to work were helping me to grow spiritually (I’m sure they actually are), and it took only one day without them to experience a closeness to God that I haven’t felt in a while.
  • Wrote a poem – not a good one mind you, but a poem none the less.  I used to write a lot.  I may share it on here sometime if I work up the courage.
  • I turned my cell phone on when I got to work for the first time since Friday night.
  • I actually checked my personal e-mail twice on Monday rather than only once.  I checked it sometime during the morning to make sure there was nothing from the weekend that I needed to respond to and once later in the day.  I also sent my first personal e-mail of the week (one of two) to get organized for VBS games.
  • Monday night was the first night of Jacob’s karate.  I usually sit in the car and work on the computer (generally my blog or some other Bible study).  This Monday, I read my Bible and worked on organizing my teachings for the K-1 room in September.  Time well spent!
  • Read some more in Transforming Children into Spiritual Champions by George Barna.

Tuesday:

  • I had another great prayer time on my ride to work this morning.
  • I started to notice how many people seem permanently attached to their electronic devices.  I counted the number of people walking downtown either talking on their phone, sending text messages or listening to their IPods – astounding!
  • Finished reading Transforming Children into Spiritual Champions.
  • Tricia called today at work. She thought she might have lost her credit card.   I realized how easy it is when you can just hop on the internet and check to see if there has been any activity on your card.  I almost forgot there was a number on the back where you can do the same thing.  I went that route instead.  Fortunately she found the card before I cancelled it!
  • Started reading Turbocharged!: 100 Simple Secrets to Successful Children’s Ministry by Dale Hudson and Scott Werner.  Found another good one!  I’m loving this.
  • Tonight was another karate night for Jacob.  We always spend some time together on Tuesday nights between his classes.  There’s an hour between classes which gives us just enough time to go across the street and eat.  This week, without the interruption of the phone or IPods or anything else.  I noticed again at the restaurant how instinctive it is to watch the televisions while you’re eating.
  • Worked some more tonight on the teaching for September.  Came up with a new character idea.  We’ll see if it pans out.

Wednesday:

  • Continued reading Turbocharged!: 100 Simple Secrets to Successful Children’s Ministry.
  • Starting to miss the computer less and less.  It’s rather liberating not feeling like I need to check my e-mail all the time!
  • Used my drive time in the morning to work on one of the teachings I am preparing and to have some quiet time with God.  I’m thinking I might limit the number of podcasts so that I can spend more time with God.
  • I even found some projects that needed done at work that kept me off the computer.
  • Worked some more on my study of the teaching methods of Jesus.  I have a lot of the leg work done, and I’m excited about pulling it all together!
  • Rearranged my bookshelves to organize my library and make room for some new books.

Thursday:

  • Finished reading Turbocharged!: 100 Simple Secrets to Successful Children’s Ministry.
  • Played a game with my two year old and six year old tonight.  The game was annoying as humanly possible and involved pounding a very loud giraffe over top of other animals (don’t ask), but I had fun spending time with the kids.
  • The kids had a friend over for the evening, so we spent some time outside playing.  He asked me if I had ever read all the way through my Bible.  We had a nice talk about how important it is to read the Bible and listen to God.  I love those opportunities!  On the other hand, he told me that his family was just way too busy to read the Bible, so we’ll see how it turns out.
  • I sent my second (and last) personal e-mail of the week again related to planning for Vacation Bible School games.
  • I spent some more on my study of the teaching methods of Jesus.
  • Started reading Making Your Children’s Ministry the Best Hour of Every Kid’s Week by Sue Miller.  This is another really good book.  I’ve been on a role this week.  I would recommend everything I read.

Friday:

  • Finished reading Making Your Children’s Ministry the Best Hour of Every Kid’s Week.
  • Went to dinner with the family at Dickey’s BBQ (one of my favorites).  It’s full of TV’s.  It’s wasn’t nearly as hard not to watch them at the end of the week as it was at the beginning of the week!
  • Started reading Children’s Ministry in the 21st Century. So far, so good!
  • Was planning on staying up until Midnight to check e-mail, etc., but I got tired and ended up falling asleep at 10 so electronics had to wait until Saturday morning.

There you have it – some insight into my week without gadgets!  If I had to summarize what I’ve learned I would say:

  1. It is possible, even liberating, to live without all the noise caused by electronics.
  2. The thing I missed the most was worship music.
  3. Gadgets are so consuming in our culture that it is easy to miss just how pervasive they are.
  4. There are some things where technology is very helpful, but it is possible to find ways around the technology when you are creative.
  5. Technology is fun, but it is easy to let the technology rule our lives rather than ruling it.

If any of you are intrigued by the idea of going dark for the week, let me know.  I would love to hear about your experiences!

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  1. […] Going Dark – The Recap! […]

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