Are there ways to follow faith on a smart phone in the present high technology Era?
There’s a knock at the door and you catch your breath. You open the door to a delivery man, sign the electronic scanner, and he hands over a box. Before he has taken two steps away from the door, you’ve already torn through the packaging to reveal a white matte-finished box with embossed logo. You carefully remove the casing and lid to behold in all its glory your latest gadget – a new smartphone.
The device will help you work smarter, play harder and, oh yeah, take phone calls. But who buys a smartphone just to make phone calls?
While smartphones may seem like a evil incarnate to some, they are useful devices not only for work, socializing, storing and creating memories, education, boredom busters and more; your smartphone and the apps you upload are spiritual tools to help you mature in faith and foster a vibrant relationship with God.
Don’t believe me? Let me show you.
Before you read on, I would like to add a disclaimer. I am 42. I am by no means as tech savvy as some, but understand a smartphone is a tool to use wisely. It is not a liability in my life, but a strategy I use to propel me forward.
- Turn down social Media.
Social media has changed our lives in the past 10 years - for the better and worse. Social media can be all consuming and even take god-like status in your life if you let it. So set boundaries. For example, turn off notifications from social media. Have set times when you will use social media and times when you unplug.
There are definite benefits from limiting social media usage, but my encouragement is don’t switch off without a purpose. My church fasts social media for the month of January each year but it has purpose. We unplug from social media so we can tune in to the voice of God. Social media has many benefits, but things go astray when the voice of social media dominates our life. Be sure to keep the voice of God as the loudest voice.
- Listen to podcasts.
I believe any professing Christian is a leader, and as leaders we have an obligation to grow and develop leadership capability. What better way to do this than podcasts. Podcasts give us the opportunity to be mentored by experts. Whether you are in full time paid ministry or your ministry is in the secular workplace, podcasts offer the opportunity to grow in Christ-like leadership skills. On many smartphones, the podcast app is preinstalled. So find a handful of podcasts you enjoy. (your favourite author, preacher, or church has one) subscribe, and listen regularly.
- Start a Bible reading plan.
For as long as I can remember, I have read a chapter from the Bible every night before I go to sleep. It is such a lifestyle for me that my day feels incomplete without it.
You may not have developed such an ingrained habit, or perhaps, like me, there are times when you are lost for what portion of Scripture to read. That’s where a great Bible reading plan comes in. And with a Bible app on your phone it becomes easier. There are a heap of Bible apps to choose from but my favourite is YouVersion. Once you create an account, you just pick a Bible reading plan, set up an automatic reminder, and viola, you are on your way to a daily Bible reading habit.
- Pray more.
Oh, I know you’re thinking, “Wouldn’t a smartphone hinder you from praying?” In fact, it has the capacity to do just the opposite. Introducing PrayerMate. PrayerMate is a free app that lets you enter prayer points into your phone and set a reminder for when you would like to pray each day. You can even sort prayer points into categories and assign how often you would like to pray for that request if you wish. Have I prayed more since installing the app? I think I have.
5. Read more nonfiction.
You arrive early for a medical appointment, plonk down in the reception area, and wait for your name to be called. “I’ve got a few minutes,” you think, “so I’ll just jump on Facebook.”
Well, at least that’s what I used to do. But then those few moments turned into minutes of time wasted sticking my nose into other people’s business. Invariably, I would then feel guilty for my poor use of time.
I realized there is a better way.
Nowadays, when I find myself waiting in line or for an appointment, rather than update my status, I read the Bible or a nonfiction book on my phone. Last year I was able to double the amount of books I read by employing this strategy. Through regular reading, I was challenged in my relationship with God and others, grew as a person, and felt empowered by my use of time as opposed to drained by Insta-envy.
If you have never read a book on your smartphone before, give it a try. You may never read paperback again!
- Find encouragement through the Crosswalk app.
It goes without saying really, but instead of checking the daily news, discover encouragement and revelation from the Word of God on Crosswalk. You can’t go wrong.
“We’re going to make some history together today.”
Those were the words the late Steve Jobs, founder and CEO of Apple, spoke 10 years ago this week when he introduced the first version of the iPhone. At the time, smartphones—cell phones that operate as mobile computing devices—had been around for nearly a decade. But Jobs’s boastful claim proved to be prescient, and the iPhone sparked a revolution in the use, innovation, and mainstream adoption of smartphone technology.
As with most every tool, ubiquitous use brings a plethora of problems. Technology has a way of shaping our values and our culture—often in ways in which we remain blissfully unaware. Christians must therefore think critically about how smartphones affect us, both on the individual level and also as a community of believers.
Yet in watching out for the pitfalls of technology we should not overlook the ways that smartphones can be useful for spiritual formation. Here, for instance, are seven ways you can use your smartphone to enhance your spiritual life:
- Read God’s Word
Being able to conveniently carry around God’s Word wherever we go is one of the greatest benefits of having a smartphone. Most likely, though, you mainly use the app when you forgot your print Bible or when you need to look up a particular verse. But Bible apps can be used in a variety of useful ways, such as when your Bible reading plan includes chapter readings from multiple books (as with Prof. Horner’s Reading System).
When I used that system with a printed version of the Bible I spent nearly as much time flipping through the text and keeping track of the 10 bookmarks as I did in reading the Scripture passages. The app makes the process much simpler and more convenient, thus helping me to stick with the multiple-chapter daily reading approach.
Recommended resources: YouVersion’s Bible App (which includes the Prof. Horner Reading Plan)
- Listen to God’s Word
Listening to audio Bibles can increase your Scriptural intake and help you to catch nuances in the text that you might miss in your readings. A couple of decades ago you’d need to spend several hundred dollars for dozens of cassettes or CDs. Today, you can download free apps that have excellent recordings of God’s Word that you can listen to anytime on your smartphone.
Recommended resources: ESV Bible app, NIV The Listener’s Bible
- Memorize God’s Word
When it comes to memorizing Scripture, the key is repetition and recitation. Use your calendar app or an app that allows you to schedule texts to yourself to send the verse you want to memorize at a predetermined time during the day.Lightstock
An alternate approach is to copy the verse or passage on your note app and set a (silent) alarm to send reminders throughout the day to stop and work on memorizing the passage.
There are also several apps, such as ScriptureTyper, that can help make the process of memorization easier.
Recommended resources: TextItLater, ScriptureTyper
- Be ready to share God’s good news
A lot of the anxiety we have about evangelism is due to our insecurities about being able to share the gospel or answer questions from unbelievers. You can alleviate some of this stress by preparing a document in your note-taking app that includes a clear explanation of the gospel (there’s no shame in reading it aloud until you have it memorized), a few relevant Bible verses, and answers to common questions and objections to the Christian faith. Having this document as a quick reference can keep you feel more confident about sharing God’s good news.
You can also create a folder in your Kindle app that includes the books you find most helpful in explaining or defending the faith. Then, when there is a passage from a book that you think would be useful for a new believer, you can pull out your phone and share it with them directly.
- Schedule some encouragement
Too often our friends and family need words of encouragement when we are unable to be with them or give them our direct attention. A simple way to close this gap is to use a scheduling app to send a text message with words encouragement or relevant Bible verses right before they are needed (such as when a church member is heading to the clinic for a chemotherapy treatment).
Recommended resources: Delayd, Text Timer
- Pray through your social media feeds
Smartphones have made it possible to fill the time we used to “waste” waiting in lines at the bank or checkout line. Now we can use those short spurts of time to scroll through Facebook or Twitter. But skimming through social media can be more than a form of distraction; we can use it to look for unspoken needs of those in our networks.
Next time you’re stuck waiting, scroll through your follower or friends list and use it as a prompt to say a quick prayer for people you usually don’t include on your prayer list.
- Create your own audio Bible commentary
Almost every smartphone has a built-in app that let’s you record audio (i.e., iPhone’s Voice Memos). This can be a useful tool for helping you capture your thoughts about Scripture. For example, you can start with creating summaries of Bible books (they don’t need to be theologically detailed, just something that will aid your understanding). Start with simple summaries, such as “Leviticus: About the ceremonial law” or “Proverbs: The wise sayings of Solomon.” Later, you can refine and replace them with versions by Biblical scholars (e.g., Joshua: God gave the land he promised and Israel took it (11:23; 21:43-45). — Liam Goligher)
You can also made audio recordings of your thoughts and insights after your daily Bible reading. By labeling and organizing them by chapter and verse, you can easily create commentaries and study tools to help you remember what you’ve learned (and recording audio helps you to capture the thoughts quickly when you don’t have time or energy to write them down).
Are there ways to follow faith on a smart phone?
Internet Evangelism Day, to be held April 29, is a strategic resource to help the worldwide church understand digital media issues and use the Web to share the Good News. It is an annual focus day and a year-round online guide.
“The last 15 years have changed our world for ever,” says Tony Whittaker, coordinator of Internet Evangelism Day. “Digital media are transforming the way we communicate, behave and even think. If Facebook was a country, it would have the fourth-largest population in the world.”
Churches are encouraged to use Internet Evangelism Day resources to create a presentation for their members on or near that Sunday (or at any other time they choose). The Internet Evangelism Day website offers free downloads: PowerPoint, video clips, handouts, drama scripts, music and posters. These enable any church (or home group, college or conference) to build a customized program, lasting from five minutes to 50.
This year’s focus day will be the eighth to be used by churches around the world since the initiative’s launch in 2005. Over this period, digital media have developed dramatically, with the advent of YouTube, Facebook and Twitter, and the growing use of mobile phones to access online services. The outreach opportunities have multiplied too.
On April 29, more than 10 e-books that normally must be bought will be available for free download. An evangelistic iPhone app also will be available.
Internet Evangelism Day’s website is also a one-stop resource covering many subjects, including how to build a church website that is “outsider friendly,” using Twitter in evangelism, and blogging. Perhaps surprisingly, you do not need to be technical to share your faith online. And you can volunteer to be an email mentor to inquirers with several large online outreach ministries.
Internet Evangelism Day is an initiative of the Internet Evangelism Coalition, based at the Billy Graham Center, Wheaton, Ill. It is supported by a wide range of leaders and groups.
1.) YouVersion Bible App – The Best Bible App!
Description: Over 1,000 Versions of the Bible including audio, bookmark your favorite verses, search hundreds of reading plans and get notifications each day if you choose. Turn any time into time with God. Waiting in a long line at the grocery store? Instead of coming through political rants on Facebook, spend a few moments in the word of God to find a few moments of peace and encouragement.=
Why you need it: It’s the ESSENTIAL Bible App.
2.) Pray As You Go – Daily Prayer App
Description: Pray as you go is a daily prayer session designed to go with you… wait for it… wherever you go. A new prayer session is produced every weekday and one session for the weekend. It is not a ‘Thought for the Day’, a sermon or a bible-study, but rather a framework for your own prayer.
Lasting between ten and thirteen minutes, it combines music, scripture and some questions for reflection. This App is perfect for a walk or while snuggling under a warm blanket. After the bible app, this is my absolute favorite!
Why you need it: It’s an amazing tool for prayer and creating space to be with God wherever you are.
Features: Daily prayer sessions, liturgical calendar, questions for reflection.
[Looking for other prayer ideas? Check out 30 Ways to Up Your Prayer Game]
3.) SermonAudio – Worldwide Downloadable Sermon Database
Description: Talk about sermon overload… this incredible resource has over 1.2 million sermons! Holy flamingos, that’s a lot of Jesus talk! You can search this database by topic, speaker, featured sermons, or event categories. You can download audio or video sermons to your phone for when you have some spare time. I love to listen to Francis Chan on my morning commute.
Why you need it: It’s THE BEST resource for downloading awesome sermons.
Features: Search for sermons by topic, speaker, featured sermons or event categories. Save sermons to listen to at any time.
4.) Verses – Bible Memorization App
Description: I desperately want to be one of those people who have a ton of Bible verses memorized but I just super am not. I can usually share the gist… along with a guess of what book it can be found in. This App has been a huge help in actually making memorizing God’s Word happen in my life!
Why you need it: Stay close to the passages your memorizing with the Verses app. Play quick memory games to advance and keep track of your progress alone & with friends.
Features: Verses excells at quick, low energy, memory games. Our games range from Familiarize to Memorize to Recall. Create a collection and invite your friends to keep each other accountable. A little friendly competition can be a good thing.
5.) Got Questions– Answers about Faith, God, Jesus, the Christian Life.
Description: If you have a heartbeat, I guarantee you have questions about where you came from, what the purpose of your life is and whether or not there is a heaven. This app is an amazing resource to look through and share with other believers whether they are new to faith or life-long believers.
Why you need it: Part of this whole faith journey thing is wrestling with really tough questions. Also it is one of my favorite apps to share with new or on-the-fence believers.
Features: Search for sermons by topic, speaker, featured sermons or event categories. Save sermons to listen to at any time.