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If Jesus Had a Smartphone




Ever since I purchased (Sheri made me!) a smartphone, I feel smarter… and dumber. I’m smarter because I have the Internet and information access 24/7. I’m dumber because I rely less on conversation and personal interactions that I used to.

In an interesting commentary in Leadership Journal (Winter, 2015), David Kinnaman gives a unique perspective. Enjoy!



Pastor Duane

“If Jesus Had a Smartphone”
Making disciples after the revolution. 
Commentary by David Kinnaman

The knowledge revolution is upon us. As with most revolutions, this one comes with a promise for the masses – a better life. In this case, the hyperlinked life: constant access to customized, personalized, on-demand information, what we want to know, when we want it.

And we are grateful for this. In research Barna did for our FRAMES project, three in 10 U.S. adults surveyed reported feeling that extra information gives them a sense of greater control over the decisions they make (29%). And even more said they have greater confidence in their decisions with this kind of access (41%).

Even our faith journeys have benefited. People now have instant access to information that can help them grow spiritually: devotionals, sermon notes, Bible translations and expositions, podcasts, worship music, and so on.

But, as with all revolutions, the knowledge revolution comes at a cost. Seven out of 10 U.S. adults say they are overwhelmed by the amount of information they need to stay up to date (71%). Even then, they do not wholly trust the information they find – a majority admit to believing only about half of what they read online (55%) more than half (54%) think they have actually too much information, and one in six says all that information hinders making a decision, instead of making it easier.

Then, of course, there is the ever-present smartphone, the absence of which causes great angst. About one-third (34%) say they get anxious when their phone’s battery dies, and nearly half (46%) would struggle to go without the Internet for longer than a day. More than one-third of all adults (35%) and almost half of those under 40 (47%) admit their personal electronics sometimes separate them from other people.

Still, three in 10 Millennials (30%) say they love their phone. Talk about an intimate relationship with our devices!

Every revolution offers promises. Every revolution makes demands.

How does the hyperlinked life jibe with the abundant life Jesus promised? We certainly have lives full of information, but our daily lives – our time, our intimacy with God and with others, our time to just think and be – seem to be depleted.

All revolutions are meant to change the world, and the knowledge revolution has done that. Now we must work hard to live faithfully in this new world.

We must begin by enlarging our definition of stewardship. We talk about stewarding time, treasure, and talent. Let’s add technology to that list. Today’s digital world drives how we spend our time, how we use our money, and what we make (or don’t make) of our talents.

One aspect of this stewardship – and a critical one, particularly for those leading churches – involves recognizing the significance of parishioners who work in information and technology industries.

This include print, digital, and broadcast journalism; arts, entertainment and media; computer and software companies; writing, research and analysis; and other sectors of today’s economy and culture. Everything we watch, read, or hear is a form of digitized information. A video game is a type of information content. Music and movies are, too.

To equip people to follow Jesus in this new hyperlinked world, we must provide them with a broad understanding of stewardship. How can you help people make sense of the information barrage? How would Jesus use a smart phone? How can we make technology a useful servant than a cruel master?

We need to prepare a generation of “knowledge workers” for lives of purpose in these and related fields, and empower them with a sense of the importance of their vocation. 

DAVID KINNAMAN is president of Barna Group and co-author of The Hyperlinked Life (Zondervan, 2014).