Several years ago I posted a “tongue in cheek” article about NOT bringing your Bible to church. A number of readers missed the humor in it completely.
As the conversation unfolded one interesting thought emerged: Many people lack the self-control to just read their Bible during church and not text, Facebook, Tweet, check email, etc.
This article is a response to my original article. This time taking a positive, non- “tongue in cheek” approach to ways you can “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, does 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 connection 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.
Recently, my phone died on a Saturday leaving me without my device for church on Sunday. We visited a new church and I took my full-sized study Bible and my journal, which I use for study at home. I have to say that I really enjoyed having my “real” Bible in church. It was much easier to flip back and forth between texts the pastor was referring to without having to wait for the pages to load in YouVersion, which sometimes crashes and misbehaves.
How about you? How does the move to digital Bible reading change the way you interact with God’s word?
[Article updated Nov. 2015]