Wednesday, October 30, 2013

TECHNO-FAITH - CURRENT GENERATION STEPS IT UP?


100 MILLION DOWNLOADS IN LESS THAN 7 YEARS. DEVOTIONALS, READING PLANS 
More and more people, (including yours truly) are reading the Holy Scriptures - the BIBLE - on mobile PDA's than ever before. The Word of God is reaching literally the ends of the earth faster than your local cable company can lay the fiber optics in the ground. There are more free downloads of the wildly popular YouVersion app around the world than Justin Bieber songs!

Just as an FYI, YouVersion was developed by a pastor with ties to Central Illinois named Bobby Gruenewald who in a long line at O'Hare airport in Chicago, wishing he had a small bible in his pocket to help him pass the time! One thing led to another and the idea to have a bible which anyone can access at any time, anywhere was born! Six years later, the 37 year old now innovation pastor at LifeChurch.tv has the most popular application in the world in over 600 versions and 375 languages! As of July 2013, there have been over 100 million free downloads of the app from iTunes and elsewhere. Apart from just the Biblical Text now, YouVersion is now offering manageable bible reading plans and free devotionals from Chris Tomlin, Casting Crowns and others among a myriad of other features.

Because of popular discipleship tools like this (YouVersion), Bible reading is now at an optimum! It is estimated that within twenty years, more people will be accessing the worldwide web (internet) via Tablet and/or Smartphone, than the old fashioned desktop computers! In fact, mainline computer manufacturers like DELL, Gateway and others are seeing their share of the market fall as iPad; Google Nexus; Kindle HD Tablet and others zoom in sales and popularity. As a future ebook publisher and current fan of ebooks, I can testify that an ebook is a lot easier and faster to read than a traditional hard or paperback book.
FREE APPS FOR YOUR SMARTPHONE & TABLET - LOGOS, GLO BIBLE ETC....
Here are some of the key findings just released by him in October 2013:
- 70% of church-going Millennials (those born around 1986) read the Scriptures on the screens of a smartphone or tablet and laptop.
- 54% of church-going Millennials watch teaching, music and other faith-based videos online "religiously"
- 56% of church-going Millennials use the web to research churches to determine their next Sunday morning destination or a future church home.
- 59% of church-going Millennials use the web to find resources and information on spiritual matters and to connect with various instruction. More and more, we find many are also joining discussion forums like Rapture Forum, Crosswalk etc to connect with others and discuss Faith.
- 38% of church-going Millennials check online for verification of what they hear immediately upon hearing it.
- If they are reached properly and approached about giving, 20% of church-going Millennials will donate to a church or faith-based organization via text or online.
This is all great news as more and more young people are accessing God's Word, both here in the USA and mainly in the Far East and eastern Europe where there is an availability of electronics. Here in the US, the Oklahoma based LifeChurch and others encourage congregants to tweet bible verses during the sermon or nuggets gleaned from the teaching. During the regular week, Twitter (and Facebook to a lesser extent) has become the popular repository of quick bible verses and online chats to share Scripture verses and other forms of Faith-based encouragement among believers.  All the user needs is a hashtag (#) to join the conversation of a certain group.

This is all amazingly encouraging stuff, until we discover that there is a disconnect between the wide distribution of the electronic Biblical teaching. This is not to put a damper on all this great technological advancement in the Faith. But the disconnect appears in the fact that only 9% of American Christians have a Biblical worldview! These are the latest numbers.  According to Barna, the numbers have gone from 7% in 1995 to 10% in 2000 to 11% in 2005 and now 9% in 2009! (The survey is conducted almost every five years). 

A Biblical worldview is defined by Barna for these surveys (and which have also been confirmed by the Pew Foundation) is "believing that absolute moral truth exists; the Bible is totally accurate in all of the principles it teaches; Satan is considered to be a real being or force, not merely symbolic; a person cannot earn their way into Heaven by trying to be good or do good works; Jesus Christ lived a sinless life on earth; and God is the all-knowing, all-powerful creator of the world who still rules the universe today...."


The best explanation I can offer for this kind of disparity in the massive influence of "techno-faith" and "true faith" is one word - DISTRACTION.  All of this wonderful activity has its place, its potential and its own power. But during a supposed time of worship, praise and preaching, taking one's focus OFF the Worship of the One True God to monitor your tweets and share thoughts on the message or the communion devotion online is almost, well, disrespectful to the Savior.

The Bible says "Be still and know that I am God (Psalm 46:10). The Book of Revelation in chapter 4:8 gives us the awesome picture of what true worship is in Heaven, RIGHT NOW and it says "And the four living creatures, each one of them having six wings, are full of eyes around and within; and day and night they do not cease to say, "HOLY, HOLY, HOLY is THE LORD GOD, THE ALMIGHTY, WHO WAS AND WHO IS AND WHO IS TO COME." No tweeting or IOS 7 here, just the 6 Creatures and the 7 Spirits of God in full blown unspeakable reverence before Holy God.

One factor added to the distraction away from True Worship - which is awe in the Presence of the Holy - is DISCERNMENT! The internet is full of distortion and even disinformation about the Lord Jesus and the teachings of the Bible.  Unless some of these websites visited for more information are well known and as tested and true as Answers in Genesis or Probe Ministries (apologetics), we must be EXTREMELY careful about some of the research and information gathered online!  Over 80% of what passes for biblical teaching online should be addressed with a grain of salt.

These are some of the issues which Millennials will face increasingly, as they move into mature adulthood with their tech gadgets. The daunting task facing our young people is not just the high cost of a smart phone data plans, but these major theological points - distraction and discernment - and how it all fits in with God's plan for our lives. Our task, as the generation which is passing the torch to the Millennials, is to mentor and disciple them on how to balance all of this advancement with the required reverence, repentance and relevance of honoring our Father in Heaven; listening to Him and completely obeying Him.
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