We’re in interesting times when it comes to technology. Whether it’s the constant barrage of new devices and platforms or news of privacy leaks, technology seems to be moving faster and faster. Yet with that speed of new technology is the nagging sense that something isn’t right. While all of this technology was supposed to make us more connected and informed, we’re feeling more isolated than ever before. On top of these feelings of isolation, we’re dealing with constant flood of information at an unsustainable pace. It’s everything from social media updates, news alerts, text messages, emails, and all-day binges on Netflix shows. Now, when you combine this feeling of isolation and information overload, you get a human brain that is overwhelmed and not equipped to deal with this new reality. So, if this is the new reality, how should the church respond?
The church’s typical response to technology is to talk about the dangers of the content that lives on those platforms. Whether video games or movies, we typically fall into our culture warrior patterns and talk about how these things can be harmful to a believer. However, that’s only part of the right response to this problem. The other part of the problem is much bigger. The church has to begin to recognize that devices and platforms are not neutral. They aren’t just simply small computers in our pockets or in our homes. These devices are designed to rewire the way we think and act. They are just as much of the culprit as is the content that they carry. If you don’t believe me, walk into any restaurant in town and find a party of three to four people sitting around a table. More than likely, they will be eating their food and staring at their phones. You can do this experiment in almost any public setting. When you do, you inevitably come to this conclusion—we’re addicted to our devices.
1. Our devices have trained us to no longer be fully present.
Are you attending a kid’s soccer game? Get on your phone and answer some work emails. Are you in a worship service? Scroll through Instagram to see who liked your latest post. Being present, attentive, and engaged in each moment is now overshadowed by a veil of tweets.
2. Our devices have altered our ability to think deeply about the things of God.
This rewiring of our brains has circumvented our ability to think deep and reflect. No longer can we sit in silence with God’s Word or spend time listening to the Holy Spirit. The constant nagging feeling that something on our devices is more important or calling for our immediate attention diverts our focus from Him.
So, there has to be a solution, right? The solution is that we have to radically rethink the way that use our devices.
3. We must intentionally change the default state of our devices from “on” to “off.”
For example, when you’re with your family eating a meal, turn the phone off. When you walk into a worship service, turn the phone off. In fact, you would be better off leaving your devices powered off and only turning them on when you need to use them for a specific task, then immediately turning them off when the task is complete.
To be clear, this is asking a lot of you. Why? Your world has been engulfed by devices since the early 2000s, and those devices have been engulfing your mind. We’re talking about rethinking the last twenty years of human progress. However, whatever progress we’ve made from technology is dwarfed by the spiritual growth that is being stunted on a daily basis. Spiritual growth that is not only affecting you, but also your family. So, take the time to evaluate how your devices are changing you and take the steps necessary to get yourself back to place where God, not your devices, is changing the way you think.