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.