“Please turn in your Bibles to James Chapter 2,” the youth pastor said.
There was no flipping of pages or rustling of notebooks. There was just silence.
Not a student there had a Bible, at least, not a Bible in the form of a paperback book. Instead, students pulled out Kindles and iPhones and open one of hundreds of different Bible apps.
The Bible is slowly going out of print, as Christian apps begin to take the place of tangible devotionals, Bible studies, and Bibles. When pastors tell you to turn to a certain passage of Scripture, people pull out pieces of technology instead of books.
As someone who has grown up with books being tangible things that you can touch, feel, and smell; this is terrifying.
However, this turn of the religious sector toward technology may actually be a good thing. Now before you shut me down, let me explain…
- Bibles, Christian books, and biblical commentaries take up a lot of space and weigh a ton. This sounds like common sense, but think about it. A good Study Bible can easily weigh three or four pounds and be two or three inches thick. With all the apps now available, we can cut all that down to a few icons on our iPhone.
- Christian reading material costs money, and usually it costs more than “regular” books. Back when I was in high school, my parents had to fight to keep me away from Lifeway Christian Bookstore. One Black Friday, I spent over $100 on Christian books alone. Anytime I go there, I can’t come out with at least spending $20. Christian books make discipleship expensive. Literally.
- Sword drills can be eliminated. I hated Sword drills. No, I do not know where Haggai 2 is. With Bible apps, I don’t need to know where a certain verse is. I just type it in, and it comes right up.
- That quote from the Bible can now have a reference. I’m really good at quoting or paraphrasing different parts of the New Testament. All I ask is that you don’t ask me where in the Bible it is. I’d spend hours looking for what I had just quoted. With Bible apps, I can just search the phrase and find where it is in the Bible.
- Too many times, students forget their Bibles. How often do students forget their phones? Oh, right. Never. If students have a Bible-app, they will never forget their Bibles at home.
- Youth pastors and teachers thrive by using the material of theologians and teachers that have gone before them. Ten years ago, if you walked into any pastor’s office, you might find rows upon rows of Christian commentaries and encyclopedias. They would spend hours pouring over them. All of that has been reduced to an app or computer program. They can quickly search what they need and be done. Save paper. Save energy. Save time. There’s a second benefit to this. A few years ago, I was spending the night at my friend’s house in Atlanta when a friend asked me to give an “extended devotional” at a Christian community meeting the next morning. I had nothing to go on except the Bible. No commentaries. No previous teaching. Nothing. It was the hardest thing ever. My problem could have been solved if I had been able to use a commentary app or something of the like. Those didn’t exist yet, and so I had to resort to using my own knowledge and my own limited understanding.
In ten or twenty years from now, most teens may not even own a Bible. All they will have is a Bible app and perhaps an app for a MacArthur commentary or Beth Moore devotional.
Do you think this reality a step forward for Christianity or a step backward?