Wednesday, January 1, 2014

Mobile apps in Church?

Switch OFF Mobile phones!
The above sign is a common one in Churches nowadays. This has become necessary as mobile phone users disturb proceedings at Church with ringtones and other notification tones.
However, the ever increasing popularity of smartphones and mobile apps such as Bibles, make it difficult to enforce the 'switch off mobile phone' warning.
It is common now to hear Pastors say, "Turn your Bibles with me to ...", and find some members of the congregation rather 'querying' their Bible apps for the quotation given.
I should state here that, the Bible-app-querying trend does not happen (a negligible percentage do though) in the Catholic Church as the congregation do not read the Bible in Church, but rather listen to a Lector.
Now, the story is different in Catholic Churches, with the advent of the Catholic Hymnal mobile app. Some members of the congregation -- predominantly the youth enjoy singing hymns on their phones.
I asked some users why they enjoy reading the Bible on their phones and singing using the mobile app, and the commonest response is that, it is convenient. Some don't like carrying the 'heavy' paperback Bibles and hymnals. Another reason for convenience is that, most can't locate books in the Bible if they are asked to, so the mobile app comes to their aid.
Yes ke!
A pastor at one of the Churches I visited told the congregation, "Your phone is not a Bible, stop showing me your phone when I ask you to show your Bibles!"
Others do not like the idea of using these mobile apps inside the Church because of distractions. The thing is, some of the Bible apps that are out there (like YouVersion) require mobile data (access to the internet) to function. Once your mobile data is on, and your Auto Sync functionality is also on, you find notifications popping up, as and when they are received on your phone. This can distract the individual (the Church would only be disturbed if your sound profile is not silent).
A couple of tips on using mobile apps in Church:
  • Do turn off the volume on your phone. (Your sound profile should be silent)
  • Do switch off your Auto Sync feature so you do not get interrupted by notifications from other apps like Whatsapp and GMail.
  • Download Bible apps that do not require access to the Internet to function. Some examples are Olive Tree, Word of Promise apps.

Personally I don't think singing with the mobile app is a bother. I only pray for self control and discipline for users.
By the way, do you know the Catholic Catechism has been developed into a mobile app? It's in Italian now. Other language translations are coming soon.
I will like to know what you think about mobile apps being used during Church services. Do comment on this post. Thanks


  1. Great tips!

    If your phone dies, your mobile app dies with it o. So be prepared :-)

  2. Yes indeed!
    I remember a pastor asking his congregation what they would fight the devil with when they met him -- their Bibles or phones?

  3. if moble phones are used solely to assist in worship why not. it was "modern technology" when people were writing 1st on stones, then animal skins, hides , until paper was invented so the Bible itself was even in scrolls and not as we have today. Am sure some people protested when the Bible was printed in the format that we know today. If any of us should be permitted by God to see how the Bible looks like in about 500 years from now we would not have words to describe our reaction. I will support the use any technology that could be used to spread the gospel, make it easier and comfortable for church-goers to worship. It is the God of the Bible that we worship and not the media thru which we get information to worship him. I don't remember the last time i carried a "physical" Bible to church.

  4. I largely support the views of @Charles Arthur. The technology platform is merely the tool in the propagation of the gospel, so was printing and photocopying when they first appeared on the scene.

    However, I must hasten to caution making these gadgets a nuisance. I think one of the reasons why the Catholic Church emphasizes on listening rather than reading the bible along with the preacher is to avoid a situation where the congregation will have their attention turned away from the main points being hammered on. But some who may not understand such stands have critique this notion as Catholics not reading the bible.

    So here, I will agree with you on your advice in the post to keep notifications and popups either on silent or turned off to avoid being a nuisance to others and or yourself.

  5. Personally, i see nothing wrong with using the bible app during service. You rightly addressed the issues for concern. Should the précautions you suggested be heeded to i doubt there would be any room for misgivings.
    I'v heard some ministers vehemently opposé its use on the basis that some people use it just to show off. #sigh# (any comments on that?)

  6. It's debatable as to whether people use their smartphones to show off. But if the objective of the pastors/ministers/priests is to get the Word of God to people, I don't see why they should be agitated when people are getting access to the Word by other means.

  7. Yes Yaw, the misconception that Catholics DO NOT READ the Bible is unfortunate. I however belief that as a Church, the reading of the Bible by individuals has not really been encouraged.
    My Church in Tema has what is called Basic Christian Communities (BCCs) which affords Catholics and other Christians living in a community the opportunity to come together once a week to read and share the Bible. It is a rewarding experience.