It’s Sunday morning and Church is about to begin. The teenagers funnel their way into the Sunday school classroom and snag a seat (anywhere but the front). The young Youth Pastor greets everyone as they sit down. Once everyone is settled he asks,
Okay, everyone pull out your Bibles!
From his back pocket he pulls out his iPhone and begins to read the mornings primary scripture.
Wait, what? Using an iPhone instead of the Bible? Are you crazy?!
The Youth Pastor in this example is, in fact, me. And to answer the question, yes, I use my iPhone for a Bible when I teach sometimes. And no, I’m not crazy. At least I don’t think so. I’ll let you decide.
You see, I love the Word of God. I treasure it and hold it as the utmost authority in my life, and my ministry work. And you may believe that by resorting to an iPhone instead of a physical Bible that I am in some way cheapening the lesson in an attempt to be cutting edge and hip. You’d be wrong.
If you think about it, the Bible itself is a piece of technology. In ancient days, the highest form of technology that they had was hand-written scrolls. Once the printing press was invented (thanks to new technology) we then began printing Bibles. For a long time this was the highest form of technological advancement in Bible reading.
Today, thanks to apps like the YouVersion Bible app, we have the ability to carry with us a digital copy of the entire Bible at all times. Furthermore, we can have it in every language, every translation, right in the palm of our hands, at all times.
Not only can you read the Bible, but some apps allow you to take notes, bookmark, and even share verses with your social networks! I personally like taking notes in Evernote while listening to sermons.
Now, there are some potential drawbacks. I realize that if you allow the students to have their phones out, they may just be text messaging or playing Angry Birds instead of reading along. That is definitely something to take into consideration.
However, if you give a student a physical Bible, sermon notes, and a pen aren’t they just as easily distracted? I know when I was a teenager, I was way more likely to doodle than fill in the answers. Even worse, I was more inclined to pass notes rather than take notes.
I think this comes down to leadership. I give my students my expectations and trust them to not take advantage. In the past, I have not had many problems with this. The students who are following along on their smartphones have generally honored my trust in them.
For me and my students, I have observed that allowing the use of technology increases the likelihood of my students engagement. What youth pastor doesn’t want their students engaging more, reading more, and having more fun learning about Jesus?
Is allowing smartphone usage taking technology in the church too far?