When Kindle™ Comes to Church

Sam Rainer

February 20, 2008

I’m honored that my father, Thom Rainer, has allowed me to post the following article. It will soon be released by LifeWay, but you get to read it here first.

In this new phase of my ministry and life, I am able to spend a bit more time listening to someone else preach sermons on Sunday. On those special occasions when I am in town, my wife and I sit in the pew and listen to the message of our pastor, Mike Glenn, at Brentwood Baptist Church. When Mike began to read the biblical text for his sermon recently, I did not turn the page to the scriptural passage. Well, I didn’t turn the page in a paper Bible. But I did push a button and the electronic version appeared magically on the screen in my hands.

I had the new Amazon Kindle in church. In less than 60 seconds, one can download books, magazines, newspapers, or blogs. The device weighs just over 10 ounces, and the screen is as clear as the page of a paper book. The first book I downloaded was the Bible, the Holman Christian Standard Bible translation of course.

My wife, Nellie Jo, was somewhat concerned that I might push other buttons and read the Wall Street Journal or the latest biography of Benjamin Franklin during the sermon. I assured her that Pastor Mike and his message would have my complete attention. I was never tempted to wander from the sermon or the text.

I absolutely love owning a Kindle. I no longer take three of four heavy books when I travel. I download them on my Kindle at a cost much less than the paper versions. I also like the ability to change the font size as my boomer eyes weaken with age.

But this article is not a promotional piece on the Kindle, though I have done a decent job of lauding the device. My purpose instead is to focus on that which really matters in our churches.

The Kindle is a means of delivery. It is a preference of mine about how I like to acquire and read books, including the Bible. But it is not the most important thing about church, not even close. What is important is the Word of God, the exclusive message of the gospel, the evangelization of the lost, the discipleship of the saved, the priority of prayer, and the Christ-like love we demonstrate toward others.

I hope no one at Brentwood Baptist minds that I bring a Kindle to church. If they do, I will simply stop bringing it. It is just not that important. But many churches have great dissension over similar issues of relative unimportance. Some members fight and fuss over the non-essentials and neglect the essential. So we have worship wars, pastor critics, and whiners of all stripes. And the world around us goes to hell while many of us fail to demonstrate Christian love with those who need to know Him.

I really like my Kindle. But I love Jesus more. And I love His Word more. I pray that I can become the type of Christian and church member who focuses on that which really matters. “He said to him, ‘Love the Lord your God with all your heart, with all your soul, and with all your mind. This is the greatest and most important commandment. The second is like it: Love your neighbor as yourself’” (Matthew 22:37-39).

That’s what really matters.
Pretty important words.
I read them on my Kindle.

What do you guys think? In what ways has the church discouraged or encouraged a new means of delivering the timeless gospel message?

7 comments on “When Kindle™ Comes to Church”

  1. kdb1411 says:

    Great post! I see too many church members who are more concerned about their own preferences than reaching and loving those outside their walls. Wouldn’t it be great if every church member had to spend several hours in prayer and share the gospel with three people before they were allowed to make one critical comment about the pastor or the church?

  2. Sam Rainer says:

    kdb1411 – great idea! I’ll run it through our next business meeting!

  3. I think the church does well when it realizes that methods can change, but the message never does. The Church has done poorly when it bludgeons churches that practice innovation in sharing the gospel.

    I remember talking with a pastor (more like standing listening nodding my head) railing against the use of video during sermons. I was thinking “are you kidding me?”

    Sacred Cows get in the way of the gospel. I like slaughtering them, other people not so much. I remember being read the riot act by the AWANA commander of a previous church I served when I suggested bringing visitors into a seperate room to hear the gospel probably wasn’t the most effective means of evangelism. It probably did more to assure that they won’t come visit again.

  4. forthekingdom says:

    Very insightful post. I wish every church member would see the need to put others and the church before their own preferences and desire.

  5. Kirby Andersen says:

    Enjoyed hearing someone’s personal experience in using the Kindle. Love the idea. Wish had better design. Actually would love to hear more from you about it. Thinking that some may have a problem with bringing the Kindle to church is foreign to me. But I’m a tech-loving pastor also. I’ve been using my iPaq and now my iPhone for years as I travel to view the Bible in services. I’ve made wireless throughout our church a priority so people can use their tech toys. As long as there’s no distracting noise, etc., I say go for it! Of course, I’m assuming they’re using for Bible reference, etc. Great post.

  6. Mark Collier says:

    I too can not imagine what type of church would even think about a Kindle being inappropriate…

    I love my Kindle and take it with me everywhere! Sadly, the only thing that really translates poorly on the Kindle is… the Bible. Most of the Bibles available for the Kindle have “red letters” in the NT and they are quite hard to read in gray scale. It baffles me why the publishers would not catch that. Sigh.

  7. Gene Roncone says:

    Like you I love the Kindle. As a matter of fact, I no longer use a pulpit or notes. Just hold my new Kindle DX in my hand and get up close and personal with the crowd. Lovin it.

    gene roncone

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