December 18, 2014

5 Reasons to Take Your Bible to Church

Last year, I posted an article that stirred up so much heat, it’s still bringing people out of the woodworks to challenge what I wrote about NOT bringing your Bible to church. I wrote the post using “tongue in cheek” humor; yet some folks missed this entirely. Recently this post was quoted on another blog with the title, Reasons to be Stupid. While I’m trying hard not to take offense at the title, this blog did bring up some interesting thoughts – mainly that many people lack the self-control to just read their Bible on their phones/tablets during church and not text, Facebook, Tweet, check email, etc.

So in response to my original article, I’ve written this post on positive reasons why bringing your (print) Bible or using your smartphone or iPad/tablet can be positive ways to “bring your Bible to church.” Note: Quotes below were written by Robert Cottrill of WordWiseHymns, left in a comment on CTT:

1)      “It shows the Bible is important to you, to the greater glory of God (cf. Rom. 10:17; Heb. 4:12).”

Here I ask, is the Bible more important to someone that brings their print Bible or brings their Bible on their iPhone or iPad to church? Does God judge a person based on what device – paper or electronic – he or she reads the Bible on? Is Holy Scripture more “holy” in a print Bible?

2)      “It’s testimony to your neighbors, to see you carrying it Sunday morning. Further, it’s an example to others in your church, including the children.”

Here, I wonder if toting the physical Bible is really that much of an example or if our behavior, the way in which we speak to our children in front of our neighbors, and how we communicate and behave in front of our family and friends matters more than if we merely have a Bible in hand. Does that make a difference?

3)      “It prepares you to participate in the service, at times when the Scriptures are read.”

Often, the moment I sit down and see the scripture verses on the bulletin, I pull up the verse in YouVersion on my phone so that I’m ready to read the scripture; also, at our church, the scripture is available in its entirety 1) in our print bulletin 2) on the screen behind the podium, 3) read by the pastor. Do you feel that it’s more holy to read the scripture from your own personal print Bible, or on the screen, etc? I don’t think it makes a difference one way or another.

4)      “It allows you to underline or mark things in your Bible that will be helpful to you later.”

Yes, this is true you can mark or underline in your print Bible, but using YouVersion and other phone apps, you can bookmark, make notes, comments, share verses via social media, and much more. My husband takes his iPad and opens Evernote and YouVersion simultaneously and takes notes while reading and studying the scripture right along with the pastor. With these tools, he can access his notes from home, work, church or anywhere with an internet connect to search on a word or verse and boost his daily Bible study.

5)      “It enables you to check what the preacher is saying, like the Bereans did (Acts 17:11). Don’t simply take his word for it. Check to see that what he says is Bible-based.”

Again, I will say that it is really simple to use a Bible app as a concordance to search on a particular word or phrase to cross-reference Bible verses instantly. This is much easier to do on a digital device than it is in your Bible’s limited dictionary/concordance.

I will add that although using digital devices for Bible study and reference during church is very useful, occasionally, I am self-conscious about this as I don’t want people to think that I am texting or checking email. At some point, people – including my pastor, who can only see the back of my phone from the pulpit—will just have to assume that I’m accessing the Bible on my device, since for more people, this is the norm, not the exception.

I struggle with the same issue when tithing – we tithe online through an automatic monthly payment – so I rarely put anything in the physical offering plate.

I’ll write more on these topics again soon – much more to say! Please leave a comment with your thoughts if you have a moment.

Lauren Hunter is a freelance writer, church technology consultant (http://lhpr.net) and founder of the blog ChurchTechToday (http://ChurchTechToday.com), Technology for Today’s Church.

About the author  ⁄ Lauren Hunter

Lauren Hunter is a freelance writer, consultant and blogger who loves the Lord and desires to encourage churches to better use technology to improve every aspect of ministry. Her blog, ChurchTechToday, was born out of a need to find a place to discuss how technology can impact the Church in positive ways.

20 Comments

  • Reply
    August 22, 2011

    I agree with you, Lauren. The main reason I don’t carry a Bible to church (though it is in my smartphone) is to help those who are there and just beginning to explore the Christian faith to not feel like they’re the only one without a Bible. I think it helps them to stand out less, and thus to feel more comfortable. And it’s helpful for them to see me reach for one of the ‘pew Bibles’ and know they can too.

    • Reply
      Lauren Hunter Author
      August 22, 2011

      Thanks, Nick. I appreciate your feedback. I wish our church had pew Bibles, but we don’t. Our chairs don’t have racks on the back. I recently visited a mega church down the street, and they had ushers hand out paperback Bibles to anyone who wanted them right as the sermon was beginning. I thought this was helpful. I’m in the both/and camp – both are profitable, both are helpful, both are needed!!

      In Him,
      Lauren

    • Reply
      Partidae03
      September 1, 2012

      Please say you’re kidding! That is an absurd reason why not to bring a Bible to church.

  • Reply
    August 23, 2011

    While I do agree that reading a bible on a phone, tablet, projector screen, bulletin, etc., is no more “holier” than a bound bible, I do find that it contributes to a high level of bible illiteracy because the passages seem to lack context and it promotes (even in my life) a ‘why do I have to know Scripture when everything I need is given to me on PowerPoint”. I promote bringing your bible with you to church because it allows people to learn how to navigate the pages, find where a specific passage fits in the context of the rest of the book, and allows people, although they may not remember what chapter/verse something is found, they can remember that it is on ‘the left hand page, second column, near the top.’

    Plus, if the sermon is boring, flipping through the bible gives the appearance of being “right into it” :P

    I also wish our church was able to have ‘pew bibles’ so people can use them/take them if needed.

    • Reply
      Lauren Hunter Author
      August 23, 2011

      More great comments over in the Xpastor Group on LinkedIn:

      Peter Raath • I am using a Kindle with the NIV version at the Sunday Eucharist, and fond it very helpful, especially as there are notes available at the flick of a switch, and also concordance facilities. More than that, the text size can be changed to accommodate poor light or failing sight, and the whole thing can be carried in a jacket pocket. There are, however, people (readers) that do not find it so desirable. There is much to be said for having a beautiful, bound and decorated printed book to read from.

      Becky Marie Coburn • Our Pastor has mentioned several times that he sees people keeping up with the text of his sermons on blackberry… It’s great to hear him say “turn with me” or “click over to”. It’s even better when the youth pastor has to fill in and he uses a device not a book. I am proud of our Pastors for keeping up with the times, bring the Word of God to our attention in all forms.

      As for me…It’s the old fashion leather bond with large print.

      Pastor Ed Harris • This is an interesting question. I like them both. Sometimes I use my leather bound bible and sometimes I use the bible electronically. What I would say as a pastor is that we must be understanding of where the sheep may be on this subject. Some are there, and others think it shouldn’t happen. The pastor has the ability to cause a level of calm in this area if he introduces it – with a level of understanding for those that may not be ready. Personally, I’m looking forward to getting a tablet – yet I love the actual bible.

      • Reply
        Lauren Hunter Author
        August 24, 2011

        Here’s another good reply from LinkedIn, in reply to Becky’s comment above – good stuff!

        Becky, you’re not that old fashioned. When you say “as for me…It’s the old fashion papyrus scrolls in Greek and Hebrew”, then your old fashion!

        A woman in our church leaned back to my friend, reading the scriptures and taking notes on his iPhone, and admonished him to stop and read the “real” Bible.

        Had I been there, I likely would have said, tongue-in-cheek, “Great! I will go get my papyrus scrolls and stone tablets!”

        We need to be careful and teach our congregations about bible history and the process. Otherwise they can perform a form of bibliolatry. I see this in which version to read and which translation is more “real”. Now it is which method to read is more “Christlike”.

        ===
        This reminds me of my experience at church in college. I had been a Christian 3 years. We held “Blue Jean Sunday” for folks who might not be able to “afford” church clothes. I always felt it odd because the next week “churchies” were back in Laura Ashley dresses with Dooney Burk purses or $100 Polo shirts and $100 Polo khakis or slacks.

        I wore jeans to church. I was very presentable but two of the elders felt I should not wear jeans because I was a leader in the college and high school ministries).

        I told them “I understand and will be more like Jesus next week”. They were ecstatic! Then I followed up with “great now I get to wear my tunic and sandals!” They did not know how to react.
        Posted by Sean Young

  • Reply
    August 28, 2011

    I love my paper Bible! It has underlining and special page markers and as an artist I simply had to paint some symbolism on the inside front cover. But I couldn’t live without my Franklin Electronic Bible either. I’m not great at memorizing where a particular passage is located, so the electronic Bible makes quick and easy searching to find whatever I’m looking for with just a few reference words.

    I find it quite disgusting how many “Christians” want to point their fingers at things that are not important. As a matter of fact, the people that have been described here clearly haven’t been reading that stack of paper they are toting to and from church every Sunday. What of the people who don’t have a Bible? Are they garbage??? Certainly not. I wish that everyone had a Bible of their own (and today you can buy them at a local Dollar Store for $2, and I’m sure most churches would gladly give you a Bible if you couldn’t afford one and you asked). The problem of not having a Bible is alot of preachers standing at the pulpit don’t know what they are talking about. So although they are reading from the Bible, they either don’t read far enough or they take passages out of context. (remember, even the devil could quote Scripture). If you have you your own Bible you can read for yourself, because even the Bible tells us not to trust the teachings of men. Let the Lord teach you, He speaks from His Word.

    It doesn’t matter what your Bible preference is, paper or electronic, nor does it matter what you wear. Piety is not a virtue. Piety is self-righteousness. People need to stop pointing at sin and point at Jesus. Jesus’ blood covers all the sins of the flesh. There is only one sin which leads to death, blaspheming the Holy Spirit (Mark 3:28) – denying the identity of God: God is Father Truth, filled with and displaying His Spirit which is Love, come, crucifed and risen, the immortal God taking off His immortality and clothing Himself with mortality, the Son – the Form – of God = Jesus. Jesus is the One and only God, a trinity of Mind, Heart and Body – and we were made in His Image, His Likeness, and His Form. And we are the body of Christ – we are to preach the gospel of Jesus (which is the power of God unto Salvation) which reveals Him to be God Himself come in flesh, the Messiah. All these things of the flesh are not what we should be expending our energy on.

    • Reply
      Lauren Hunter Author
      August 29, 2011

      Thank for your thoughtful reply. I appreciate your comments and what to say thank you for reading and responding!

      Blessings,
      Lauren

    • Reply
      Justin
      January 10, 2012

      I agree with your sentiment, but I feel like I should warn you of a technical matter. Piety means devout or faithful. It most certainly is a virtue. We don’t want to mislead people.

  • Reply
    David A. Santos
    October 17, 2011

    Before I get into my opinion. I’d like to point out that Sundays are NOT the only day Christians gather. There are several other christian religions that gather Saturday Mornings….now that thats out of the way.

    In my first book (The Hopeless Christiantic) I actually mention how technology has helped the youth grow closer to God by placing the Bible and even (in my religions case) sabbath school lessons in Ipods and such, its more convenient. However, at church I’d prefer to use the physical Bible. it’s easier to follow along and seeing it there net to me on the bench reminds me to open it. As someone above said, if the sermon gets boring you can flip through the pages pretending to follow. I dont pretend, i open up a random page a read. if I had my Ipod with me, id most likely play a game. While electronic devices are cool they can become a distraction as well.. At home I’ll use whatever, but at church id prefer the physical version.

  • Reply
    Justin
    January 10, 2012

    I consistently use a print Bible in church for one reason: I know it would distract the older people in the church. I must follow the exhortations of Romans 14 and 1 Corinthians 8: Anything that detracts from the message and causes another to stumble is sin. Their ability to hear the Lord’s word is more important than the exercise of my liberty. If you are at a church where that is not an issue, I applaud you for pushing horizons.

    • Reply
      Lauren Hunter Author
      January 10, 2012

      Hi Justin,

      Thanks for your comment. I could totally see it being a distraction to older people, or even bringing visitors with you. I often think about this when my in-laws visit our church with us. I don’t want my use of my Bible app on my cell phone to distract them, so I often use it less when they’re sitting next to me.

      Sincerely,
      Lauren

  • Reply
    August 8, 2012

    I’m a bit late to the party, but thought you might like this comedy video ‘Is the Bible a book?’ on the subject which helps us reassess our attitudes to the various forms of the Bible:
    http://conversation.lausanne.org/en/resources/detail/11614.

    And while I’m here, a shout for the 300+million people worldwide in 2200+ languages who still don’t have access to a word of Scripture in their mother tongue – I’m sure they’d love to have a choice of technology! Wycliffe Bible Translators and partners worldwide are helping to change this. wycliffe.org.uk

  • Reply
    abhilashpro
    November 15, 2012

    I’m a techie guy and familiar with the latest technologies, and I use my computer/mobile/iPad/Kindle a lot for reading Biblical and theological stuffs. However, I prefer to use my physical Bible for reading because electronic screens provide very ‘limited’ content at a time. For example, if I open Romans 5 on my iPad, I can see only Romans 5 — the immediate text. But on my physical Bible, as I flip my way to Rom 5, I will most likely have glossed over Romans 2-3-4 and seen their headings. This gives me a quick idea about the context of Rom 5. With a physical Bible, my eyes can quickly spot the surrounding text for a particular passage, and the context it quickly provides helps me read the text better.

  • Reply
    MzMadonna
    January 28, 2013

    Is there an electronic Bible that requires NO nternet connection? The ONLY reason I use my paper Bible in church is due to slow or lack of internet connection on my device when needed. Also, I would like to purchase one for my mom who is bed bound with gout and arthritis in the wrists. Thanks for any help!

    • Reply
      Lauren Hunter Author
      January 28, 2013

      I downloaded a free ESV version of the Bible on my Kindle. Once you download it, you don’t need an internet connection to read it. The searching functionality leaves a lot to be desired, but for reading in general, it will do the trick. Hope that helps!

  • Reply
    October 28, 2014

    Bring your bible to church by way of mobile devices is ok seeing that we live in a tech savvy generation. However, there’s a sense of ownership & dignity when a person brings their leather bound or paperback bible. It’s also a point of interest when someone sees you carrying it and even the more when you read it. It causes an opportunity to witness to the unbeliever. I’m actually considering having our church bring their bibles for the next 3 months to get a response as to whether or not it produces a difference to them & those who see them with their bibles.

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