Several days ago, I posted a tweet that garnered a few interesting responses. I said:
If your Bible reading is always from a digital srce, how do your children know the diff b/t you reading God’s Word or playing Angry Birds? via @andyjohnson
As I walk through this, let me present a few things for context:
- I’m not stating to have the authoritative answer here, I want to see a dialogue take place.
- I’m not anti ebooks. I typically like having real book in hand, but I have read and listened to some books through digital means. I recently finished a one year study through the Bible with You Version.
- It is clear that ebooks are on the rise and will one day be the preferred medium for reading, though I’m not sure that day is close at hand. I think that print books still carry a great deal of weight and influence far beyond where our world is technologically and will be around for a while.
- One friend noted that the Bible is not medium specific – a point of which I agree. It may come orally, spoken, in print, or in digital print. He noted that what was more important was listening and living out the Word. I agree here, but I’m not sure my tweet was speaking to that point.
- My post was geared toward modeling Bible reading as a parent. I did not intend it to carry influence in the sphere’s of church teaching, preaching, or convenient Bible study in inconvenient times.
Something I read months ago triggered this sensitivity. In a blog post, the author mentioned that they had not opened a paper Bible in years, that they did all of their Bible reading electronically. It made me wonder if this person’s children ever “caught” them reading the Bible and what kind of an impact that would make on this person’s spiritual parenting. Now, I readily admit that I do not know this person, their life, their parenting, nor their depth of closeness to Christ. I sense that this person is committed to being faithful to God’s Word so I was more interested, not in judging the particular person, but the philosophy and the potential unintended consequences.
Another connecting point in my thinking comes from an ebook that Pastor Mark Driscoll wrote called “Pastor Dad.” He says the following on page 28:
A wise dad may realize that a personal quiet time for himself is unwise; rather than hiding away in a quiet place to read the Bible, it is often best to do so in the noisy living room where the kids can see and climb on their dad while he reads his Bible. Also, if dad frequently has his Bible open, his children will be more likely to ask him questions about God and life because they see that he possesses answers from God’s Word.
What my tweet was getting at was citing the nebulousness that can come with one’s activity on an iPad or smart phone. I used Angry Birds as a hyperbolas statement, but that could have been any app – take your pick – ESPN, Google Reader, email, Words with Friends, etc. If a child simply sees you on your device, how do they see that Bible reading is a priority? What they see, unless they crawl in your lap and ask, is that being on a device is a priority.
Through some statements that came across my feed, here are some tips I gleaned to aid in modeling Bible reading through digital sources to your children:
- As we shape children to read digitally, we’ll need to pay special attention to helping them focus and not become distracted by the multitude of apps at their fingertips.
- If we choose to read the Bible digitally, we will need to ensure that we take intentional steps to show our children that we are taking time to read God’s Word. This could include listening to it in the car, commenting on how you are reading God’s Word when they interrupt you, and reading together through a digital means during family devotion time.
- We need to think through if allowing all of these digital sources into our child’s life is a help or a potential stumbling block. This should definitely guide our thought and practice in our own digital use. Al Mohler has a thoughtful post on this here.
- How much will you push your child toward digital? Instead of buying them a hardback ESV Grow Bible, will you get them an iPad with You Version? Do most people have the $100+ available for a digital reader for their kid rather than buying them a $25 bible? The question here is that if you are purchasing a print Bible for them, but never open one yourself, what message could you be sending?
- What about kids bringing Bibles to church? If children are bringing tablets and smartphones into worship services, we will have to come up with creative ways to keep them focused on the Scripture and away from entertainment.
- Digital Bibles alone would seem to take away from the symbolic nature of God’s Word being important that print Bibles allow.