It’s Sunday morning and time for church. Your pastor comes up to preach the Word. He pulls out his tablet and begins reading the scripture. You look around your church and many of the congregants have their mobile devices as well reading along using their Bible app.
Ten (or even just five) years ago this would have appeared odd, but we have now arrived at a new normal. More and more pastors across the country have decided to forego the leather bound Bible that has passed through generations of their family. They have instead chosen to pick up the modern technology of a Bible app on their mobile device. Yes, tech now goes to church.
A Wealth of Information
As the Social Media Director of a Baptist church, I have been asked many times, “Does tech belong in church?”. I believe it does. Bible apps are a wealth of information. The Bible app on my smartphone is available in 925 versions in 629 languages all at fingertips’ reach. When my pastor is reading scripture in the King James Version, I am able to read that same scripture in another version to get a better understanding. At work during the day, I can read my Bible without having a traditional book on my desk. I am able to highlight areas, make notes, and bookmark passages.
I can even share a daily scripture with social media via Facebook and Twitter. Everything someone needs to study the Bible is all in one place. I can easily understand why more pastors are moving towards this platform. It’s all about convenience.
Combining the Old With the New
Adults aren’t the only ones using Bible apps. Our kids are drawn to use Bible apps as well. It’s tech, and that’s what they love. They are able to be connected even while at church. I think this creates a sense of belonging for them.
I have heard several youth say that their church is traditional and that they don’t quite feel like they belong there. The use of Bible apps encourages youth to participate because it’s not traditional. It’s something new and of their era. They feel accepted because they are able to play a part in the corporate worship experience.
Of course with the many advantages there are to using Bible apps in church, there are some disadvantages. I have seen Bible apps malfunction when it’s time for the message. It is very distracting when this happens. The preacher will stop reading midsentence. They start fumbling around trying to make their app work and then try to locate a traditional Bible. Several people are then looking for a Bible. After someone finds one, it is given to the preacher for him to continue. He has to flip pages to find the scripture and then get back on track. I have found myself having a hard time trying to focus after this. We’ve also had visitors at our church who weren’t accustomed to Bible apps, so they were focused on using a new app and have missed parts of the message.
On the flip side of that coin, we’ve had visitors that felt odd and out of place because they thought people were texting throughout the service. We recently had a guest pastor and while he was preaching, our pastor had his cell phone out. I saw several people that were looking at what my pastor was doing. After the service, he made sure he mentioned that he was taking notes and using his Bible app. He was aware of what people may have been thinking.
Our children can be distracted just like we can. They will have access to all the apps on their mobile devices during church, not just the Bible app. They could be texting or having conversations on social media sites. I have even witnessed some playing games on their devices.
Adapting to the Digital Age
As tech progresses in other areas of our lives, it should be expected that the church will progress as well. I don’t know about anyone else, but I’m glad we’re not carrying around Moses era stone tablets. As with any tech, when using Bible apps, it is important that we closely and constantly monitor our children.
We must pay attention and look for any warning signs of excessive tech use. Sure, we would love to believe our children if they told us they were using their Bible apps every time they are on their mobile device. That’s probably not the case and could be an indicator that they may be abusing their tech time. We can’t hide them from tech because that is the era that we're in. We just have to lead, guide, and direct them to use tech in a healthy way.
Jada Durden is a mom, freelance writer, and the Social Media Director at Greater New Zion Full Gospel Baptist Church in Shreveport, LA. You can follow her on Twitter @Jada1913, Facebook www.facebook.com/LovingThisLifeJada or on her blog www.lovingthislifejada.com.