What Would Martin Luther Do With an iPhone?

The tech revolution didn’t begin with the iPhone in 2008. It began 500 years with the creation of the printing press.  That innovative technology transported people all over the planet into this new modern world.

How a 33-Year-Old Unleashed Technology on the Church

This year we are celebrating the radical action of a 33 year old named Martin Luther.  Martin not only broke away from the Catholic Church he used this remarkable new technology to make the bible available to all people not just the clergy.

As a consequence young Martin Luther became one of the leaders of the Protestant Reformation. This movement spread the gospel all over the world teaching believers how to study the Bible for themselves to follow in the way of Jesus.

In order to faithfully pass on their faith to the next generation many of these of these new protestant denominations created sets of doctrinal propositions. Too often these doctrinal statements were placed on the same level of authority as the scripture itself.

Today church planters report that young people, who were raised in churches that insisted that they “pledge allegiance” to a set of doctrinal statements, are looking for something more.  They are looking for a more personally engaging approach to scripture to learn more about how to authentically follow the life and teaching of Jesus in their entire lives.

New Technology Shaping the 21st Century

All our lives have been forever changed by the creation of new technology from the internet, the IPhone and coming soon Virtual Reality.  Young Christian innovators today, like Martin Luther, are seeking to use this new tech to share the story of Jesus. Even the American Bible Society, like Martin Luther, is using the internet to share biblical resources more broadly so people can read and study the Bible for themselves.

However, in spite of this growing access to scripture globally we are seeing Christians in America “are spending less time with the Bible and ascribing less authority to it than they used to.” According to Barna Research.  They added “Led by millennials, 19% of Americans see the Bible as ‘just another book.’”

Roxeanne Stone, Barna’a Editor-in-Chief states, “It can be hard to have a sense of the Bible being an authority when you have a universe of knowledge at your finger tips.” With accelerating influence of the new tech we do indeed have access to not only to a new “universe of knowledge” but also a broad range of competing world views.

This new reality will increasingly challenge not only the leadership of new church planters, but also Christian educators and increasingly Christian families who want to raise their young in the way of Jesus.

How to Take Scripture Seriously in the World of 24 Hour Tiny Screens

I can remember in the 70s and 80s when parents attempted to control their children viewing one screen in the living room with varying degrees of success.  In the 90s we started to see multiple screens in families for the first time…including teens with their own TVs in their rooms.  Parents began to lose screen control.

In 1995 I remember parents in the Temescal Community in Berkley California who found a successful way to regain control of media in their family.  Bill and Cherrie had two pre-teens.  They decided to have only one screen in their home which they used primarily as a video play back unit.  They took their two kids to the library once a week to select the videos they wanted to watch in the coming week.  Other families in their community supported this initiative supported this form screen stewardship.

However, today young parents tell me the only sense of influence they seem to have is how early to let them have their own screens.  Many parents tell me that once their young master their tiny screens they feel an increasing sense of a loss of control. What is your creative response?

I honestly wonder, with a growing number of church leaders, how much influence can 45 minutes of bible stories on Sunday have when Pew Research tell us kids are on their screens 8 to 9 hours a day.  Do any readers know of parents that are finding ways to not only control screen time but to also take family time to share about the way of Jesus every week?

I am told by leaders in InterVarsity Christian Fellowship have college students put their iPhones away in their back packs at the beginning of their bible studies.

I heard of one church plant group which have a bucket in which everyone deposits their iPhones before they study scripture together…focusing singularly on their Bibles and their conversation.  How does your community steward the use of the tiny screens you carry with you?

Please respond to 2 questions so we can share them on the v3 site:

  1. What are the creative ways you are enabling members in your church to engage scripture to become authentic followers of Jesus?
  2. What are the imaginative ways as parents you not only enable your kids to responsibly responibly steward their screens but also learn to follow in the way of the servant Jesus?

Send your examples today to: twsine@gmail.com

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Tom Sine
Tom Sine is a founder of Mustard Seed Associates and the author of Live Like You Give a Damn!: Join the Changemaking Celebration. Tom earned his Ph.D. at the University of Washington and has taught at the University of Washington, Seattle Pacific University, and Fuller Seminary in Seattle. He speaks widely at colleges, churches, and missions conferences around the world. He and his wife Christine live in an inter-generational community in Seattle where he works with individuals, churches and organizations to foster new ways of affecting organic, lasting change in various sociological contexts.
Tom Sine

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