I don’t sleep at night anymore. I have a newborn baby, with twenty-four hour needs that come in one hour intervals. My child does not know the difference between day and night and has already learned that I’ll be there whenever. So I don’t really sleep at night anymore.
Per the advice of other parents and my own technological proclivities, I’ve quickly learned that smartphones and the Internet are gifts for those of us who are up all night. I read the news online. I check my Twitterfeed. I check in on my friends on Facebook, whose activities I’ve missed all day. I play games online. I’m up doing anything that I can do with a child in one hand and technology in the other. Anything that will help me stay awake.
I’m up all night with a newborn, but there are plenty of other people up all night. I know because I see them online too. The insomniacs who would probably pay good money for a couple hours of sleep. Other parents rocking and feeding and changing their young children. People working the nightshift on their jobs. Friends and colleagues on the other side of the world where it’s not night. Social media marketers trying to sell something to vulnerable sleepy somebodies in the middle of the night.
You know who is not online at night? Most churches.
I don’t see posts or quotes or blogs coming from my church friends and listservs at night. Presumably, they are getting a good night’s sleep. God bless them.
But there is a ripe ministry for those of us who are up all night. After all, many people who are up at night are in distress. My church tradition is full of songs and sayings about being distressed and in prayer “late in the midnight hour.” We know that crises tend to hit when people are alone, undistracted, stuck with their thoughts … at not just the proverbial 2:00 a.m., but literally at 2:00 a.m.
I try to imagine what a difference there might be if churches included late night and early morning posts in their social media outlets. Encouraging words from the pastor coming through around 1:00 a.m. A sermon link posted at 3:45 a.m. A picture of something peaceful around 2:10 a.m. A short written prayer around 4:20 a.m.
I think it would make a difference for those of us up all night. We would have something to remind us of our clergy, our church family, or just that the divine never sleeps. It seems quite doable. A church might use a program like Hootsuite where entries can be scheduled for various days and times. Or find someone working the nightshift or with insomnia who would like additional purpose in her life.
Where is your church at night?
What would you say to those of us who are up all night?
[box_light]Monica A. Coleman, a research fellow for the New Media Project, serves as Associate Professor of Constructive Theology and African American Religions and Co-Director of the Center for Process Studies at Claremont School of Theology and Associate Professor of Religion at Claremont Graduate Universityin southern California.[/box_light]
The New Media Project is a research project helping religious leaders become theologically savvy about technology.
Reposted with permission. Copyright 2012 New Media Project at Union Theological Seminary