by Preston Stewart
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I have been in the process of going paperless in my ministry. Not an easy feat as I have all my sermons, notes, ideas and more on paper. In the process, I came to a perplexing decision to make; do I go paperless as far as my Bible as well? Many people are going to Bible apps so I thought I should at least give it a try. I spent a few months with the Bible app to see how it stacked up to my hardcopy Bible. In the end there was a clear winner for me, I hope this will help you decide as well
Most Bible apps are free with possible in app purchases. Paper Bibles are certainly not free. Depending on what Bible you purchase, paper Bible can get quite expensive. I have a Bible that I paid over $200 for, but I also have a few that I paid as little as $15. However, nothing beats free.
I received a Bible from my church on Pastor Appreciation Day, and it meant the world to me. It was made of calfskin, had my name imprinted and the presentation page was nicely filled out commemorating the day. That Bible is so special to me, and I reserve using it for special occasions. I have a journaling Bible with many drawings by my family that is very special to me.
One of the most appealing things to me about the Bible app is the ability to make legible notes that can be as long and detailed as I want. I can listen to a teaching and can take notes right on the Bible app, even my own sermon notes can be pasted right into the Bible app. With a paper Bible, you only have so much room in the margins unless you get a wide margin or journaling Bible (and that’s usually at the expense of some other great features). However, the one issue I have with some Bible apps is that once a note is typed, it’s not right there, there is nothing showing you that you have put a note on that passage. You may forget you ever typed that note and never see it again because its out of sight and therefore out of mind.
It’s sad but true, most people leave their paper Bible in their cars, at home and I can’t tell you how many are sitting in our storage at church from congregants leaving them after service, but we don’t dare do that to our phones. If we leave our phone at home, we will be late to work to go back and get it. I have had people return to church after service to look for a phone they left, but not once has anyone ever came back for their Bible. The point is, most people always keep their phone on them, and if using the Bible app, they have their Bible with them as well. The Bible app is more convenient to carry around and not leave behind. Speaking of convenience, many Bible apps have commentaries, dictionaries and the like within the app. You are essentially carrying around possibly hundreds of books in your device, not to mention every translation in multiple languages, I certainly like that feature!
Something I noticed as I used the Bible app is the quality of my study time was not as good. My study was interrupted by text messages, social media notifications and phone calls. Typically, when I’m in my Bible study I silence all devices and put them away; that’s not possible with the Bible app.
I read my Bible a lot. Many times, when I am waiting on my kids at an event, sitting at the doctors office or at the beach I am reading my Bible. It has been a witness to others who see that. My kids see me reading my Bible and I believe that is important for them to see their father reading Gods Word often. However, when you are reading the Bible on your phone it can be misleading. Most people will assume your texting or on Facebook. I am not saying we should read our Bible in public just so people will see it, but when you see someone reading Scripture outside of church it is a powerful witness.
After it was all said and done, I’m staying with my paper Bible. I’m willing to pay the cost to have a Bible that is mine, meaningful and without the worry of low batteries, storage space and technical difficulties. I am going to keep the Bible app on my phone. I really like having some of the reading plans and devotions it offers; it just will not be my primary Bible. My hard-copy Bible will be what I study out of and use most of the time.
If you are facing the decision of what Bible format to use I hope this was helpful. One thing to keep in mind, no matter what Bible you use, it’s still Gods Word, He can still transform you through whatever method you go with. Subscribe to my blog, my next post is on Bible translations and which one you should use. So, if you are planning on a Bible purchase soon, stay tuned…
Did I miss something? What are your thoughts on the topic? I would be interested to hear what you use and why.