There’s a growing trend in churches, both in the pew and on the platform: Bible apps replacing printed Bibles. There’s nothing inherently wrong with that, I guess. In some ways, with the wide array of functionality these apps offer, reading the Word and taking notes can be a lot more convenient with these apps. In fact, I used to be part of that crowd, but, after looking at my two young sons sitting next to me, I gave up the plastic for good, old-fashioned paper, and I think you should consider it as well, especially if you’re a parent.
When I first started using a Bible app, my wife commented that people might think I was playing games on my tablet. I wasn’t too bothered by that, because people know me there and would know better, right? As I thought about that, though, I looked down the pew at my two young sons. What did they think I was doing on my device? Additionally, how could I tell them to get their Bibles when we leave for church and not set a clear example? I didn’t want to cause them to stumble if I could avoid it, so the printed Bible came back.
When we go to church now, they see me turning pages as the pastor preaches. They see me highlight verses that strike a chord with me. They see me setting a clear, unambiguous example of how to use a Bible in a worship service. As they get older, if they want to use a Bible app at some point, we can discuss that. For now, though, we start with a hard copy.
Another thing I want them to see me do is taking notes: those notes are not only good for me, but they offer yet another example of how to worship at church. It demonstrates that what the preacher is saying is important, so they should pay attention. One can, of course, take notes with a Bible app, but my goal is to make it crystal clear to the two young boys watching me what it is that I’m doing, and what they should be doing as well.
And it’s paying off. During a recent Sunday night sermon, my younger son got one of the slips of paper from the back of the pew and started writing. I assumed he was doodling, as he sometimes does, but after the service he showed me the card, which was full of sermon notes. He told me, “Sorry about the sloppy handwriting. He was saying so many good things, I had to write fast.” Talk about an encouraging word!
There’s nothing wrong, of course, with Bible apps in a worship service, if used correctly, and someday I might return to using one. However, my goal right now is to train my two sons, and a clear demonstration does a lot more than me just telling them what to do. I’m literally practicing what I’m preaching: Take your Bible to church with you; Turn to the passage the preacher is using; Pay attention. They see that lived out in front of them in every worship service.
Now, I’m not going to tell you that the Apostle Paul himself, were he standing in front of us today, would tell you to ditch your eBible. That would be silly and legalistic. I would, though, strongly suggest that, if you’re a parent of young children, you should think about whether or not paper is right for you.