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At the largest United Methodist church in Missouri, you can keep your phone on and out during services ... because the pastor wants people in the pews to say what's on their minds. Lilla Marigza has more.

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(Locator: O'Fallon, Missouri)

The Rev. Mike Schreiner: "Got a couple of questions here. 'We prayed on Good Friday, and were spared here in Lake St. Louis. Does that mean the people in Joplin didn't pray?'"

At Morning Star Church in O'Fallon, Missouri, social media drives the sermon topic. The congregation is encouraged to text concerns or questions during worship. Today's theme: "There's an App for that the Storms of Life."

The Rev. Mike Schreiner: "What do I say to Christian friends who store up food and water in fear of the end times?"

The texts come in anonymously. They are screened and shown to pastor Mike Schreiner onstage.

Chase Bascio, Morning Star Church: "Today I texted, 'If it says in the Bible that nobody knows when Jesus will return, why do people keep trying to predict the return of Jesus?'"

The Rev. Mike Schreiner, Morning Star Church: "I guess one of the most memorable questions that I've had dealt with a woman who had had an abortion who wondered how God felt about that andher andjudgment. And so, what I didn't expect was that texting, honestly, is an incredible opportunity to do pastoral care."

Mitch Aldridge, Morning Star Church: "We've seen everything from, 'Did Pastor Mike forget to shave?' to things from John Wesley's theology."

The goal of this United Methodist church is to help the roughly 2,200 people in the pews feel a personal connection with God and one another.

Mitch Aldridge: "It helps to keep a large church small."

Crystal Orf, Morning Star Church: "They can feel like they're part of it. You know, they're not just slipping in and slipping out. They are becoming part of the message series."

Caroline Pugh, Morning Star Church:"I think it shows we have a really open atmosphere at Morning Star. It makes me feel more comfortable."

Chase Bascio: "You know, 95% of the time, a teenager has their phone in their hand. So, if they're in church, and they're being told, 'Use your phone' a lot of teens are going to like that. It's not uncommon to see half the people in here with their phones out."

Jessie Hamilton, Morning Star Church: "Even if you don't text in, or have never done it before, or don't plan on doing it, it just kind of feels like you're welcome there and you're free to ask any questions."

The Rev. Mike Schreiner: "We talk about churches that say, 'Hey, your questions are welcome here.' We never really give people the forum to do that. So, the whole texting is a way of bringing your questions, small groups, it's a way of bringing your questions and havereal time answers. It's not having the seminary professor answer. It's notthe commentary answer. It's just kind of the answer kind of like Jesus, how he did the Sermon on the Mount."

(Video clip) "Hi, my name is Heather and I have just a few reminders for you&ellipsis;"

Videos, graphics, hi-definition cameras and screens create an interactive experience that resonates with all ages.

Jessie Hamilton, Morning Star Church: "It gives us a better way to relate than just hearing. We're very visual, and it really makes it come to life."

Crystal Orf: "I'm a 20-something and it definitely brings the youth with the older people and middle-aged people. I'm okay with asking anyone of any age to come check out my church and I know they're going to love it."


If a text isn't answered during the sermon, the sender receives a text response inviting them to reach out to the pastor by email or phone during the week.

For more information on Morning Star United Methodist Church, visit or call 636.561.5680. You can also follow pastor Mike Schreiner's weekly video blog.

Posted: June 17, 2011