Every time I ask the audience to bring out their Bibles, it amuses me to see how normal it is now to take out a smart phone and open an app. Only half a decade ago, it was seen as rude and inappropriate to bring out a cellphone during a worship service. Today, more and more people are doing so without a flinch. Here are some of my thoughts on the use of electronic devices during take-off:
(1) I still prefer the book edition.
Call me old school but I still prefer to hold a nice leather-bound Bible in my hands when I preach or when I’m sitting in the audience. It’s not as old school as some of you may think. If you want to be really old school, try bringing papyrus—or better yet, memorize the thing!
(2) A book-bound Bible has a dedicated purpose.
There’s something different about having the book edition of the Bible. I believe it has to do with its dedicated nature. A book-bound Bible has a singular purpose: to contain the Word of God within its pages. On the other hand, a tablet or a smart phone has a myriad of purposes: communication, web browsing, games, etc. A book-bound Bible’s dedicated purpose is most evidently seen when preaching. When you want to emphasize a point, you might want to raise your Bible for the audience to see. For instance, saying, “The Word of God is living and active” while raising your Bible is a powerful gesture. Raising the book edition makes complete sense. Raising a tablet makes complete nonsense.
(3) It’s OK to use devices.
Having said that I prefer the book edition, I don’t mind when the audience brings out their tablets or smart phones to open a Bible app. In fact, I say up front that it’s OK to use those devices. Having a Bible on your iPad is better than having none at all. Additionally, some people like to take notes on their tablets. I highly encourage note-taking and if a device helps, go right ahead.
(4) Note the danger.
When I tell the audience that it’s OK to use their devices for reading the Bible, I also warn them of the danger of being distracted. Looking through your email is just a click away. This is a great reason to lean on the dedicated nature of a book-bound Bible. I normally quip to the audience that if I catch anybody doing miscellaneous things on their device, I’m taking it home with me. I’m in need of a new iPhone. You could also ask those with devices to turn to their neighbor and say, “Keep me accountable”. That will help device-users know that there are people keeping tabs (no pun intended) on them.
(5) Have a backup plan.
Many preachers have started using tablets or other gadgets to display their notes while they speak. Hooray for saving trees! However, there are downsides. One of the downsides is that tablets are quite susceptible to technological issues (an app may not open, the battery may run out, etc.). Always have a backup plan. The last thing you want to see happen is get on stage and find out that your device won’t turn on.
Join the discussion: What are your thoughts on using tablets and smart phones during the worship service?
See other preaching ideas here: Thoughts on Preaching