By his divine power, God has given us everything we need for living a godly life. We have received all of this by coming to know him, the one who called us to himself by means of his marvelous glory and excellence. ~2 Peter 1:3
by Toni Birdsong
This letter is to the Church; to pastors, bishops, elders, deacons, youth pastors, and anyone accountable for leading and discipling God’s people.
A recent Barna Group study reveals striking new data on how the digital age is shaping parent-child relationships. For us, the study begs the question: Why isn’t the church taking a stronger lead in teaching proper technology use in families?
We believe the study should compel church leaders everywhere to find the resources to equip their congregations in this area. In addition, this focus needs to take place immediately—not worked into a five-year plan.
- Surprisingly, parents are just as dependent on technology as are teens and tweens—there’s no gap.
- Most family members say technology has been a positive influence on their families; 55% of parents are relatively unconcerned about technology in the home.
- Very few adults or youth take breaks from technology. Just 6% of kids and 10% of parents try to shut off technology once a week. Regular habits include: using the phone while eating and checking email or texts in bed.
- Families experience conflict about technology, but not in predictable ways. One in four parents and kids admitted tension or conflict over technology. Parents welcome technology without suspicion.
- Few families have experienced—or expect—churches to address technology. However, 42% of parents and 33% of kids say they are interested in learning the Christian perspective of how to use technology in the family.
Thank you, Mr. Kinnaman
We applaud that along with the study, David Kinnaman, president of Barna Group adds critical commentary at the end of the study:
“Technology is shaping family interactions in unprecedented ways, but we seem to lack a strategic commitment to the stewardship of technology. The Christian community needs a better, more holistic understanding of how to manage existing and coming technological advances. Parents, tweens and teens need more coaching and input in order to face the countless choices they make regarding how technology affects their attention, interests, talents and resources.”
We address this issue in depth in our book @stickyJesus and on this blog daily. And there are others—many others—faithfully waiting for the Church to take a lead and impact this conversation for the Kingdom.
We cheer on the churches that have made digital strides and especially those who have been passionate about and successful in equipping their flocks—to any degree—to thrive in this space. Sadly, a deep void of church leadership in this area still exists.
This study reveals to us that parents and families are essentially not talking about the boundaries of technology and God’s expectation (and sanctity) of a healthy Christian family. We are texting while eating and checking email in bed, bringing our work home consistently, and there isn’t a role model in the home monitoring the incoming influences. Because of this we believe the family—and the church—is in true peril.
We implore the church to use the resources available. Teach individuals how to balance technology and protect the family relationships that make up the present and future church, and, most importantly, that bring glory to God.
This is not a cultural issue; it’s a discipleship issue, which is the lifeblood of the church.
We close with our @stickyJesus agenda to you: In equipping families to use technology properly, we challenge you to also get serious about training them how to reflect Christ and share His message with the world via thier online channels.
As we state in our book, “there is no need to renounce your residency in The Land of Shiny Things [the digital age] or mask the evidence of your connected life. There’s no shame. This is the hour to which you’ve been born—so by all means, power up! Just power up the way God wants you to. That means with God-breathed strategy; Holy Spirit power, and divine discernment.”
Please, we implore you Church, carry this torch, lead the way, equip your people. We must survive and thrive in this digital age—with our families and faith in tact.