11/14/12

Bibles on Iphones, Ipads, and other devices at youth group?

Are You Allowing Bibles on Devices at church or not? 
    
     It's no surprise to our friends and co-workers that this family loves gadgets. We are a Jesus and technology-lovin family. My husband has his Master's in Educational Technology and I have a Master's in Christian Education. What do you get when you combine the two? You get kids with God's Word accessible to them on every electronic device imaginable. We've got the Bible on our Ipads, our computers, Kindles, phones and Ipods. When we leave for church I award "Mom Bucks" for Bibles and tithe. "Mom, does my Bible on my Itouch count?" asks my brown haired,  blue eyed son Josh.
 I reply, "It's still God's Word, isn't it?"  Yup. Then YES of course. But this particular Awana* leader did not appreciate it too much. We received a phone call about it shortly there after.

     So here is the question, do you as youth leaders allow your students to use their devices during service to look up scripture? I sure do.* Why wouldn't I allow kids to use the Bible on electronic devices?  This is the "digital age," isn't it? Last I checked, we have not suffered a world wide power grid blackout and gone all pre-historic like on the new show Revolution.  Who has God's Word with them and accessible to use at ALL times?  Those students who have either gone all Book of Eli and memorized the whole thing, or the kids who have taken the time to install the Bible on their phones or other devices. The beloved  "always attached" to a teenager cell phone=always attached Bible app as well.

     Before you go all old school on me, let me tell you why I support letting kids use their electronic devices at church.

1) Brain Based Research demonstrates kids learn best when we integrate technology into the classroom. So why wouldn't this also apply to the youth room?

Technology is valued within our culture. It is something that costs money and that bestows the power to add value. By giving students technology tools, we are implicitly giving weight to their school activities. Students are very sensitive to this message that they, and their work, are important." - From article "The Effects of Technology on Classrooms and Students" 

2) They are on their devices anyways. You can monitor and police and take away...but wow that is exhausting. It's easier to allow the devices and set some ground rules and gasp in shock...kids will usually respect the rules you set.  When you show them enough trust to allow them the use of electronics, they will not want to lose the privilege.

3) I am training for real life. Our students do not live in a bubble void of Apple products.  When students leave our youth ministry, they will still be bombarded with technology and the distractions there of. I would rather train and equip my kids to be able to use technology effectively in and out of the church setting. I want my own kids to acknowledge and be prepared to handle the "temptation of distraction" of the devices in their possession. Isn't it better to be able to learn how to use technology to learn God's Word, as opposed to sneaking it under their jackets and running off to the bathroom to text? I want my kids to know that technology IS distracting, so how do we deal with it and turn it around for our benefit instead?

4) I want the challenge. If church is boring and kids are playing Star Wars Angry Birds during my youth talk, then I have not done my job of engaging them. Same holds true for big church. Like I mentioned in a previous post, people vote with their attention. When something is captivating, interesting and well executed  it commands attention. Like a movie or TV show that has won me over...I close my laptop when I am really engaged with what I am watching on TV. In church...I fiercely take notes on Evernote when it's "that good."

5) It levels the playing field. Yes, I am all for Bible literacy and for knowing how to actually use a hard copy Bible. We still play the books of the Bible song in the car on the way to school, so my kids are not ignorant of such things.  But we don't teach Latin anymore either. Is the only Bible on our shelves the Latin Vulgate?  We live in a new day, with the Bible available and accessible to us in so many wonderful ways. Why not embrace that reality and use it to help kids learn? Kids with learning disabilities or ADHD can often participate much more effectively when technology isn't banned from church. Some kids learn best with a hands on hard copy edition of the Bible. Some kids (and adults) do not. Technology can help kids who struggle. Many students will track with your lesson much more efficiently and accurately than without their devices. When a brand new kid walks into church and sits at my table, I hate seeing them feel dumb when they have no idea (because they are new to church) of how to look up a Bible verse. Everyone stares at them. They shrink in their seat and fumble through the pages. Instead, I can in 30 seconds install the Bible app for them on their phone, and they can easily navigate through that. And guess what? This un-churched kid now has an easy to use Bible in their possession that didn't cost anything from my youth budget.
Youth Group Sermon Notes
taken on an Ipad with the Penultimate App for Ipad 

     When my just- turned-11-year-old son got home from Awana last week, he told me that his Awana* leader was not a happy camper about his Bible being on the I-touch. "Mom, he sat behind me and glared over my shoulder the whole time" says my never wants to do anything wrong eldest child. As a youth leader, I make sure to applaud kids for even having the Bible on their Itouch. The bottom line is this...

Kids install what is important to them. I am thankful when God's Word falls into the "important enough to install" category. 

My husband who has all the research, education and 101 reasons why Josh should be allowed to bring his Itouch to Awana, took a phone call from Josh's Awana leader last night. Being gracious, all he said was "Sure, I will make sure Josh brings his hard copy Bible next time instead." We live in a world where old school and digital age collide, especially in a church setting.  I only have ONE  reason why Josh won't be bringing his Itouch to Awana next week....

 $199 is why. That's a lot to trust an 11 year old with.
  
My gadget lovin techy kiddos playing on
 Photobooth for Ipad

* This was my son's experience with one particular (and well meaning) Awana leader, and by no means a reflection of our amazing Awana program at church. He loves Awana and so do I!

*For the record these are my opinions only and do not necessarily reflect the opinions of the church that graciously employees me nor those I work for and under. 

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