Each Sunday morning at Calvary Bible Church before we begin our songs of worship, you will hear me say from the pulpit, “Please turn with me in your Bibles to…” It seems like each week, after uttering these words, I hear fewer and fewer Bible pages being flipped and crinkled in a hurried attempt to get to the text in time. There’s a nostalgic part of me that misses that sound, but I know the increasing silence I hear at that time is not due to our people refusing to look at the Scripture passage with me, but rather due to their Bible format of choice. As you know, many people are abandoning the constant use of their printed, bound Bibles in exchange for the convenience of the Bible apps they’ve downloaded to their smart phones and/or pad devices. We should praise God for the ever-expanding access we have to his Word through technology, but when it comes to using these devices in our church worship services, we would do well to be cautious.
Distractions at church have always been a reality. Fidgety 5 year-olds, sleeping seniors, the pastor’s ugly tie, thoughts of where you’re going to lunch, etc. – these are all things that we allow to pull us away from the preaching of God’s Word on a Sunday morning. But smart phones and ipads open up a whole new world of distraction and temptation to us when we use them in the worship service. You can switch from the Bible to email to Facebook to Twitter to Angry Birds to Words with Friends and back to the Bible without anyone around you thinking you’re doing anything but following along with the pastor. Even if you’re not switching from app to app during the sermon, many of us are so used to looking at our phone every 5 to 10 minutes that the temptation to move through our phone-checking routine becomes an unnecessary distraction.
I’m not saying that it is wrong to use your Bible app as the Bible you use during church, but I am saying that the use of a Bible app instead of a printed Bible will require more discipline for you to stay focused on what God is saying through his Word. Maybe you can handle it, but if you find you can’t, do not hesitate to break out your old bound copy with the denim cover (okay, take the denim cover off first) so you will have fewer things trying to anchor your heart and mind to this world while the pastor is trying to draw your gaze heavenward. I understand that this won’t change anyone’s heart who wants to be distracted, but it can help to clear the pathway to sincere adoration of God for whoever desires it.