Some friends of mine once discussed the merit of teaching their young children how to tell time on an analog timepiece as opposed to a digital watch. The premise of the argument assumed that kids in the future would not need to know how to read an analog clock because soon all such devices would display time digitally. That was over 30 years ago.
A similar conversation emerged a few years ago when Velcro® found a home on kids’ shoes. Why teach a child how to tie her shoes if all she has to do is draw them tight and fasten them in seconds? The kids I teach at church still wear shoes with shoelaces.
Time has proven both issues irrelevant. However, the leap from these two discussions to the following question is logical: “Why should we teach kids how to use print Bibles when digital Bibles are conveniently located on their phones, e-readers, tablets, and other mobile devices?”
- Children who learn to use a print Bible can easily transfer those skills to a digital Bible. The skills employed to tell time and tie shoes are transferrable to other tasks. The same is true with the Bible.
- Print Bibles reinforce visually that the Bible is one big story of God’s redemptive plan, not just an isolated passage displayed on a screen.
- Concrete and logical learners discover how the Bible is organized—Old and New Testaments, divisions (Law, History, Gospels, etc.), books, chapters, and verses—when they can see and hold a print Bible.
- Once a child learns basic Bible skills with a print Bible, he will discover the value of using a digital Bible to study the Scripture passages in multiple translations.
So, should we allow kids to use their Bible apps at church? Yes! If we want kids to learn how to use the Bible anywhere and at anytime, then we need to encourage them to access the Bible in whatever format is readily available.
There is a time and place for our hands and electronic displays, shoelaces and Velcro, and print and digital Bibles. In the end, we want preschoolers and elementary kids to cherish God’s Word, regardless of whether they are reading from a well-worn print edition or on the latest tablet.
Landry Holmes is the Manager of LifeWay Kids Ministry Publishing, Nashville, TN. A graduate of Howard Payne University and Southwestern Baptist Theological Seminary, Landry served on church staffs before coming to LifeWay. He is a church leader, writer, workshop facilitator, and publisher. Landry also teaches children at his church in Middle Tennessee. He and his wife Janetta are the parents of two adult sons and two daughters-in-law.