There’s way too much Christian negativity surrounding technology. All we seem to think and read about are the dangers and difficulties of the digital revolution.

But how about some balance? How about recognizing and appreciating the amazing technological gifts that God has blessed our generation with?

I recently linked to How Technology Made me a Better Mom, and I thought, “Why don’t Christians write pieces like this?” Then, “Why don’t I write a piece like this?” So here goes with “How technology made me a better Christian.”

Affordable resources
I would not have half the books I have without the advent of Logos, Ages Software, eBooks, Kindle Daily Deals, etc. How impoverished my life and ministry would be without these resources! Then add all the blogs, websites, online sermons and videos, podcasts, and it’s almost too much of a good thing. Where do you start? Enter reliable online curators like Tim Challies and Justin Taylor to help us find the best treasure.

Searchable books
When I began my ministry in the mid-nineties, I started an elaborate and time-intensive index card reference system for everything I read in books, magazines, journals, etc. Yet even that often failed me as I stood in front of my tiny library and wondered, “Where did I read that quote? Which book deals with this verse or doctrine?” Now I can search Logos, my Kindle, Evernote, Dropbox, etc. and find them with a few clicks. This has not only saved me oodles of time, but has enriched my life and ministry immeasurably.

Economy and clarity of words
I got through Glasgow University and my first year of Seminary without a computer. I wasn’t a Luddite. It’s just that personal computers were still quite rare (and expensive). My first computer was a Packard Bell and it had a 200mb hard-drive! Yet even that made a huge different to the sermons I was beginning to preach. I still have the ten or so handwritten sermon notes of my first efforts. I remember there were times when I wanted to cut, edit, or re-arrange a section and yet just didn’t have the time to write everything else out again. My PC’s cut-and-paste made me a better preacher by helping me compress, clarify, and simplify my language. I so much wish John Owen had lived in our day.

Current comment
Until the advent of the Internet, if there was some moral crisis or worrying spiritual development in the church or nation, it would take a month or two for Christian periodicals to cover it and publish on it with comment and guidance. By then, the issue was often long gone and the debate had passed. Now we have the best minds and writers in Christendom able to comment and guide us through extremely treacherous moral and spiritual times and trends, and to do so virtually in real time!

Christian fellowship
Yes, I believe Christian fellowship has increased rather than decreased with the advent of the Internet. Through blogs and websites, “ordinary” Christians are sharing their faith and their spiritual experiences in ways that bless and encourage hundreds and sometimes thousands of other Christians – and non-Christians too. So much that would have been kept private and untold is now public and shared. Isolated Christians, Christian seniors, Christians with special needs, Christian homemakers, etc., have access to other Christians in unprecedented ways. And it’s not all digital. Most of my online friendships have developed into face-to-face friendships. Christians find it easier to open up and share in their local churches too because they’ve been “practicing” online.

Christian diversity
One of the richest aspects of online life is learning about other Christians from other backgrounds and cultures. Pre-Internet I might have seen them from a distance, and judged adversely on the basis of outward appearance. But as I read their blogs, listen to their sermons, and interact with them on Twitter and Facebook, etc., I hear and see their hearts for Christ and I’m better able to see past outward differences, love them, and be immeasurably enriched by them and their witness.

Outreach and Mission
It’s incredible how easy and inexpensive it now is to produce ministry resources and send them around the world at the click of a mouse. Churches and seminaries in third world countries are better equipped and educated than they’ve ever been. Classes and lectures are beamed into deserts, slums, and jungles. Missionaries connect with their families and churches at home via Skype. The Christian message is reaching countries and places no Christian can.

Usability of biblical languages
Logos, Bibleworks, NET Bible, etc., have helped me to continue, maintain, and improve my biblical languages. Like most pastors, when I came out of Seminary, my Greek and Hebrew began to slip and fade. However, when I discovered Logos in the late nineties, with easy-to-use parsing guides, word study tools, lexicons, etc., my biblical languages began to resume an important place in my sermon preparation. Without the time-saving digital tools, I know I wouldn’t have had the time to incorporate them into my weekly study.

Digital sanctification
This list is getting way too long already, and it could go on even longer, but let me wrap up by emphasizing that all these things and many more have made you and me better Christians. The digital revolution has increased our theological knowledge, our cultural engagement, our ministry reach and effectiveness, our evangelism and apologetics, our love for one another, and our holiness.

And who cannot worship God more when they sit down every day with an Apple!

In what ways has technology made you a better Christian?

  • http://adam4d.com Adam Ford

    I was thinking about this recently in the midst of the uproar over the media’s silence on the Gosnell trial. The uproar is basically a digital grassroots march on the media. And it’s working! God has given us technology to use for His glory, and speaking up for victims of injustice who cannot speak for themselves is one way of doing just that.

    • http://headhearthand.org/blog/ David Murray

      Good point Adam. We can add the benefit of a less monolithic media.

  • Melissa Yakes

    Nice! I’m glad you took the time to write this article. My friend that works on houses once said that having an ipod with sermon podcasts and good music all day has been such a help to him, that he thinks ppl may be in sin when they refuse the technology that is right at our fingertips. Ha, I don’t know about that, but we can at least see how much technology meant to his personal walk with the Lord.

    • http://headhearthand.org/blog/ David Murray

      Yes, I love my iPod too. Wouldn’t go as far as your friend though!

  • http://homeschoolonthecroft.blogspot.com/ Anne

    AMEN!! I can *not* imagine living my life without technology … Picture the scene: homeschooling mum, 25 miles from the next homeschooling family, and NO homeschooled kids AT ALL around the ages of our older kids within hundreds of miles, living on an island in a nation where homeschooling is still a peculiarity, and where the homeschooling materials I want are simply not found.

    Now add the internet: all the homeschooling resources I could ever want – at my fingertips. All the encouragement I could ever hope for from other mums who’ve ‘been there and done that’ on a screen in my living room. All the sermons, lectures, talks corresponding to my different needs as a mum, wife, homeschooler, Christian in the 21st century, right there, at the press of a button. Daily communication with others who have needs/desires/hopes/difficulties like my own is now possible because I can talk/type with others who are like-minded and in similar life situations to my own.

    This has been my *lifeline*! I have met folks online and these ‘meetings’ have led in some instances to face-to-face meetings. others I’ve spoken with on the phone and built up real and precious friendships. And others, I will only meet in heaven, but for now, our daily or weekly keyboard chats adds much to my life.

    And most of what is added is very, very good :)

    • http://homeschoolonthecroft.blogspot.com/ Anne

      … and what I’ve written (above) only touches the surface of the benefits technology has brought to this family’s life …

    • http://headhearthand.org/blog/ David Murray

      You’ve summed it up perfectly, Ann.

  • Matt

    This seems incredibly naive. Wishing John Owen had had the internet? Tell me of a contemporary pastor who’s produced something even close to the output of biblical and theological material, of similar quality? With computers, iPhone, all the technology at your disposal?

    Do you think the modern Reformed pastor more or less disposed to prayer than his 19th or 16th century predecessor?

    Does the average pastor’s knowledge of Scripture seem more or less wide and deep than the Reformed pastor of 200 years ago (or 75 years ago) before all of the “helps?”

    In seminary, as Moises Silva looking at all of the young seminarians with their Mac laptops and Accordance programs, he regaled us with stories of FF Bruce in Manchester, who had the entire Greek NT committed to memory (or something close to it) without any electronic technology.

    I use technology and “like” it… I just don’t think I’m better for it. I might be more informed, but less wise. Less patient. More quick to assume. Less oriented to be outside. And so on.

    Matt

    • David Murray

      Phew, Matt, I’m glad that the whole point of my post wasn’t that Christians are always seeing only the downsides of technology ; )

      Seriously though. I’m sorry if your experience has not been as positive as mine. I do see dangers (I actually made a film about it!). That’s life I suppose – we’re all so different. I don’t think any the less of you for that. Like, I don’t think you’re naive or anything.

      BTW the comment about Owen was nothing to do with his productivity – more his accessibility. I’ve never met anyone who’s not wished Owen had written with more brevity, clarity, and simplicity. Unless I just have.

  • Flora Compton

    When I came to Canada over forty years ago long-distance phone calls were an expensive luxury saved for emergencies. I can now communicate with family all over the world and it’s all free. I can talk to my sister who is a missionary nurse in Chad and my daughter in Kenya daily. I recently complained to my daughter that she would probably never live in Canada again and her response was, ” Mom, you should be so thankful for Skype and email -missionaries did not have that in the past.” Indeed they didn’t and family had little contact. You are right – we are so very blessed by the technology we have and often forget to thank God for it.

    • http://headhearthand.org/blog/ David Murray

      Yes, Flora, Skype is a godsend to exiles everywhere.

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  • Matt

    David,

    I’m typing this from a computer, so I’m obviously not opposed to all of technology. But I don’t believe that having a computer (or my iPhone) has made me a better Christian.

    Nor do I not see a place for such technologies. But just like having a dishwasher in my home allows for some things (in theory, more free time to ‘important’ things), it takes away others. Like my children don’t REALLY know how to wash dishes that well. And, we miss valuable family time, working alongside one another. And, we had to pay for the thing – which costs me work.

    And calling the statement naive, David, isn’t saying that I think you’re naive (in every way, all of the time). It may well be this is the only naive thing you’ve ever said.

    There is a lot of thinking – not just Christian, by the way – which is highly skeptical of the “technology is always making our life better” mantra that we here by marketing gurus (and parroted by many in the church).

    If I think the statement “My iPhone has made me a better Christian” is naive, it’s not an assault on your character. If it were, could a Christian ever use the word of anyone or anything? I’m simply not at all convinced. Especially when long-range consequences (something, ironically, not reinforced with most electronic technologies today) are considered.

    Matt

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  • http://jeremysarber.com Jeremy Sarber

    I made a rather bold statement at my church recently when I remarked that perhaps we (at least some of us) know the Bible better today than previous generations. I attribute this to technology and the vast resources at our fingertips. I just imagine, for instance, not having the simple concordances (digital or otherwise) to easily cross-reference terms in the Bible.

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