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Is it ok to use your smartphone’s Bible app in church?

This may or may not be a hot button issue with others.  It seems to really ruffle the feathers of some who believe that cell phones and other “gadgets” have no place in church.  I can remember a time in the 90s when electronic Bibles were released and had mixed reviews, and it seems to be the same today with smarthphones.  So my question is this:

Should preteens be allowed to use their cell phones in your ministry or should they have to check them at the door?

I’m not sure if my stance is majority or minority, but here it is.  For our ministry, we’ve decided to stop trying to fight against technology and use it to our advantage.  I realize that there must be boundaries and guidelines setup to prevent this from becoming a social media hotspot, but these tools and the appropriate apps can be very beneficial for Bible study.  Here are some reasons why I’ve taken this stance:

1. Children mimic the behaviors of their parents
Look around you at church, at small group, or at work–you’ll see adults (parents) using their mobile devices as their Bible.  Kids also see this behavior and they mimic it.  A Bible app is convenient and always nearby, so why not encourage them to use it.  I think there is something amazing about reading and studying a physical copy of God’s Word.  And it’s even more awesome for a parent to model that behavior for their children.  But why are we trying to fight for one over the other?  Why can’t both exist?

2. Bible apps are easy to use and encourage further reading
The Youversion mobile app is said to be on over 20 million devices.  20 MILLION!!!  That means most of your students have the app on their devices.  That particular app offers various reading plans, keyword searches, related passage searches, and other study tools.  This techno version of Bible study is attracting younger students to go deeper in the Word.  Instead of making preteens throw their cell phones in a box when they get to church, maybe we should teach a whole lesson on who to use them for our daily devotionals.

3. Mobile devices as “Bibles” can encourage preteens to more actively share their faith
Learning to interact with God’s Word on their cell phones can be a perfect avenue for preteens to share their faith with friends.  They can quickly navigate from passage to passage in the Bible app, and share the Gospel with a friend.  I encourage preteens to bookmark passages like the Romans Road in the app, so that they can easily share the Gospel at any point in their daily schedule.

What is your policy on using mobile devices in your ministry?

Considering the prevalence of mobile devices amongst preteens, what are some other ways that we can infuse God’s Word into their daily use of these devices?

Unclesamwantyou

Most of our churches follow the school calendar, which means a new year is right around the corner. The first part of that process is recruiting volunteers–hopefully we’re all done with that part.  We had great success this year with recruiting new volunteers and getting recommitments from existing volunteers.  Don’t get me wrong, we still have spots to fill but we are very thankful for the number of great leaders that we have.  If you’re struggling with recruiting or would just like to hear what we did, I’d love to share details.  You can email me or tweet me @Pastor_MattMo

The second part of the process is much more fun.  This is the time of year when we get to lead, inspire, and train our volunteers.  We are gearing up for a huge volunteer training event next week.  For those that joined the FellowShip Kids “TEAM”, they will get to take part in a huge pep rally style training event.  We will meet for a general session with all volunteers from nursery up to 6th grade.  This will give us the chance to introduce some across-the-board policies and also to cast a vision for the entire FellowShip Kids ministry. 

Following this session, we will break out into volunteer assignments by age group–preschool, 1st thru 4th Grade, 5th & 6th Grade, Surf Shack, Greeters.  Each staff member will get the chance to cast a vision for their specific area to those that have commited to serve in that area.  I have 80-90 volunteers who have committed to serving 1 year or 2 years with preteens.  I have a lot that I want to say, but I’m working to narrow it down to the “irreducible minimum.”  So, I need your help.  Here are a few questions:

If you were volunteering to work with preteens for 1 year, what would be the most helpful thing to hear/know/have?

or

If you’re a leader, what is the most important thing that you tell your volunteers that work with upper elementary or middle school students?

or

If you grew up attending church, who was the most significant teacher/mentor that you ever had and what made them significant? 

Comment below with your responses or send me a tweet with your ideas.

We purchased a house that needs some TLC, so life has been a little crazy. One of the tasks we needed to get done was to have the carpets replaced. We thought this would be a simple task, but not so.

We decided on a store and a carpet sample, then we scheduled them to do their thing. But after talking with an employee of the same store and an employee with another carpet store, we realized there were a few hundred dollars worth of hidden charges that we were not aware of on the front end of the deal. We felt tricked and very angry. Needless to say we quickly cancelled the deal and went with a different company.

In this process, I thought about how ministry volunteers must feel when they’re hit with the hidden costs of serving. I know that I’ve been guilty of sugar coating time commitments, understating expectations, and making a short list of duties while recruiting them, only to expect more after they’re onboard.

As we recruit ministry partners for the fall, are we being clear about the expectations, commitments, and duties? Are we setting the bar high enough to make it clear that their roles have eternal significance?

We’re asking more of our leaders in this coming year, and I want to be clear about those expectations so that no one feels tricked later. We may lose a few commitments because of the higher demands. But I think the strategy is worthwhile because eternity truly is at stake. In the end, no one wants to be tricked into serving. If we’ll cast a clear vision for how they can be a part of what God is doing, then they will be willing to pay the extra costs of serving.

One of the highlights of summer for me is getting to speak at children’s camps.  I love the energy. I love the worship times.  And I love talking with so many different churches and hearing what God is doing in their communities.

This past week, I was at a camp in Smackover, AR.  If’ you’ve never been through this booming metropolis, you’re missing out.  It has one stop-light that is anchored to a cement pylon in the middle of Main Street intersection.  It is definitely a site to see. 

 The town and most of south Arkansas for that matter has been hit really hard by the economic downturn.  And that has greatly affected churches.  But God is still doing some awesome things. As I went through the week, I noticed a few things that were very encouraging.

First, I noticed that these churches have instilled in their kids a high value for the Word of God.  These kids were quick to open to the Scripture that I was speaking from and they were eager to read along and make notes as we discussed.  It was awesome to see this generation so passionate about Scripture.

Second, I noticed that these churches are eager to minister to preteens.  Most of the churches in this region are rural, small, and old.  They average attendance is definitely well under 100, and most of the congregation is probably over 50.  Even if the majority is under the age of 50, the over-50 population is definitely footing the bill for ministry and thus making it tough to try new things.  But even still, these churches were open to new ideas and trying new methods to reaching the preteens in their community.  I sat down with the leadership of one church and discussed their ministry to preteens.  They wanted to ask me some questions and get some advice, but I definitely walked away feeling like they had taught me a thing or two.  Despite their size and their age, they had ventured into preteen ministry and were having huge success.  They were running a preteen worship service that was growing to be about 60% of their church population.  And they weren’t resting on that accomplishment!  Instead, they were asking “how do we take these kids and get them involved in Sunday School/Small Groups?”  It was awesome to see this passion for preteens.

And last, I recognized that God uses all ages to minister to preteens.  The awesome part of camp is seeing those that God has called into leadership at churches.  In one group you’ll have the 20-something college student who is full up bubbling energy that is like a super-hero to the kids, and in another group you’ll have the 80-something grandmother who is pouring out pounds of love on the kids in her group.  And God is using both of them to impact the lives of preteens.  I quickly realized that there is no “target demographic” when you’re looking for preteen leaders.  This age group responds well to young and old, and God will definitely use both to speak into their lives. 

I had an awesome time last week at camp.  I’m still recovering from the camp food, but I can’t wait to do it all over again next week!