By Pastor Rick WARREN
No device in history has impacted our lives as much as the smartphone. Most people pick up their smartphones every 12 minutes. Phones have changed how we communicate with each other, how we shop, how we entertain ourselves, how we travel, and much more.
You don’t need to be a cultural critic to know some of these changes haven’t been good. Smartphones can be a time-waster. They can seduce us into accepting the world’s value system.
But, brethren, don’t miss this either: Your smartphone also can be a tool for God’s purposes. Being a disciple in today’s digital world isn’t about ignoring technology. It’s about learning to use it for good.
Here are five ways you can disciple your congregation to use their smartphones to pursue God’s purposes.
- We can use our phones to express our worship.
God told us how to worship him. We’re to do it “in spirit and truth” (John 4:24 NCV). But he didn’t tell us where to worship him. We can and should worship him anywhere and everywhere.
Smartphones can help us do that. We can listen to worship music in our cars, in our offices, and at the gym.
Of course, worship is much more than just music. Every activity can be transformed into an act of worship when you do it for the praise, glory, and pleasure of God. When church members give to their church through their smartphones, they express worship to God. Doing so is just as much of an act of worship as placing their giving in an offering plate at church.
- We can use our phones to fellowship with other believers.
We usually think of smartphones as something that breaks the connection between people because we’re spending too much time staring at screens. But the opposite can also be true. Our smartphones can help us build relationships—if we use them well.
Social media is a great example of this. It won’t take you too long on social media to see people tearing one another down. But 1 Thessalonians 5:11 gives us another way to respond: “Encourage each other and build each other up” (NLT). We should spend our time on social media encouraging others rather than tearing them down.
In fact, the best time to encourage others on social media, via text, or any other way is when you’re discouraged. God will multiply what you give others, so when you encourage others, you’ll be encouraged in return.
- We can use our phones to help us grow spiritually.
You can find hundreds of phone apps to help you grow spiritually—including Bibles, Bible studies, sermons, etc. You can use any of those apps to “grow in the grace and knowledge of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ” (2 Peter 3:18 NCV).
I talk to people all the time who struggle to grow spiritually because they aren’t making it a daily priority. I’m sure you have those same conversations. You can’t grow physically on one meal a week, and you can’t grow spiritually by getting in the Word just once a week either.
God has given us tools like smartphone apps that can help us bring God’s Word into everyday life. We can study the Bible on our daily commute. We can read the Bible when we’re in line at the grocery store.
- We can use our phones to expand our ministry opportunities.
We need to begin thinking about our smartphones as a place where we can serve others.
Think about how often we come to social media looking for what we can get out of it. Next time someone wants to argue with you on social media, don’t argue with them; pray for the person instead. Ask yourself, “How can I minister to this person?”
David didn’t have social media in his day, but he asked himself this question: “How can I repay the Lord for all the good that he has done for me?” (Psalm 116:12 GW). Think of all that God has given you. Thanks to social media, you have wider access to pray for and serve others if you’ll take advantage of it.
- We can use our phones to extend our witness.
When Jesus told his followers in Acts 1:8 to be his witnesses in places around the world, it wasn’t even possible for them to do that easily. Today, you don’t need to leave your home to be a witness for Christ. You can sit in your comfy chair and in your pajamas and share the Good News about the Lord, and it can reach the entire globe.
Every person in your congregation can do this. We carry a tool with a global reach in our pockets. No other generation of believers in history has had that opportunity.
Let’s train our congregations to be digital disciple-makers, not digital-dividers.