encouraging a unified worship experience

Yes, we have no (leather) bibles…

Photo credit Declan Fleming

"Turn with me in your bibles to..."

"It's always great to hear the pages of scripture turning as people are finding the passage..."

"To find Proverbs, go to Psalms in the middle and take a right..."

"It's great to see folks with their bibles in church..."

What are these quotes from you may ask? These are quotes from pastors I have heard over the years as they announce the scripture passage for the message. These same pastors would talk about the importance of bringing your bible to church. Debates were spurred as to whether pew bibles would prevent congregants from bringing their own bibles and thus becoming lazy. I remember growing up in a fundamentalist, "King James Only" church where it seemed the larger the leather-bound Scofield, the more spiritual you were. I even had one of those great bible covers with the retractable handles to keep mine safe (burgundy of course)!

However, today the quotes above don't have the same effect as in the past. Is it that people don't read scripture anymore? Not necessarily  Today more and more scripture reading is being done on mobile devices instead of hard-copy, print bibles. As I have mentioned previously, our church is reading through scripture in 2012.  I have been surprised to learn how many of our congregation are reading online. For many, it is simply out of convenience. I personally do my daily reading electronically either on my MacBook or my iPad. I also read scripture and take any notes during worship services on my iPhone.

Looking back, I am reminded of a healthy debate in a seminary class regarding this very subject. There were some who felt it was perfectly fine to read scripture on a handheld device while others believed that one must have a physical copy of scripture in hand. The reasonings for both ranged from "convenience" to "carrying the bible is a good witness". Personally, I am a fan of convenience. Not simply because I don't have to carry around a bible, but because I always have scripture at my fingertips. A great benefit of electronic scriptures is that I can search anywhere at anytime. Should I be sharing with someone and a scripture comes to mind, I pull out my iPhone and read it verbatim. If I am having a friendly theological debate over lunch, I can turn on my iPad and find the discussed scriptures. If I am doing my daily scripture reading and have a question about a word or a particular passage, I have Greek and Hebrew transliterations at my disposal. What used to take shelves and shelves of books can now be accessed on one simple, pocket-sized device. However, I realize that for some there is nothing like holding a bible in hand and I am fine with that. Just make sure you are OK with the person next to you having a phone or tablet device for scripture reading.

Ok, these are my thoughts. Sound off below with your views. Is it ok to read scripture electronically or should a hard-copy be brought to worship?

What say ye?