NASHVILLE, Tenn. (BP)–With the announcement of the iPad 2, Steve Jobs gave some very clear statistics that herald our move into the post-PC world: more than 200 million iTunes Store accounts, 15 millions iPads sold in 10 months, and more than 65,000 apps available. These are touch points for just one company; it doesn’t include all sorts of gadgets and applications that are coming out from Google, Microsoft and the hundreds of companies we’ve never heard of from other countries.
The speed of technology adoption is moving faster than we can comprehend; it’s moving so fast that we’re not even seeing it even though we’re a part of it. Amazon recently announced that they are selling more Kindle books than paperback books; before the end of the year we can likely expect them to announce that they are selling more Kindle books than physical books total.
Features are being added to devices at an incomprehensible rate. Do you remember your first cell phone? Children under the age of 5 likely won’t remember their first video call on a cell phone. They won’t remember using devices that didn’t have 3D screens. They won’t remember using screens they couldn’t touch.
But here’s the good news: we, as the church, are not being left behind. We are at the forefront of the digital revolution, and we are creating new technologies and finding ways to help the Gospel reach the world like it never has before.
Some key stats you might be interested in:
— NIV Bible BibleReader by OliveTree was in the Top 5 iOS grossing apps as listed by Apple for much of 2010.
— TheNextWeb.com, a leading tech blog, covered the YouVersion app in November 2010 when they saw it had crossed 10 million downloads in 2 years and growing at a rate of 1 million users a month.
— Churches are growing rapidly on Facebook, with large churches ranging from 10,000 likes to nearly 70,000.
— Social media uses have ranged from simple prayer requests to spreading the word of Christians being tortured and abused in closed countries for their faith.
Here is the beauty of technological advances: they provide us with the perfect means to disciple and love on the rising generation of believers and disciples in our churches. If you are reading this, by the very fact of its origin, you are unlikely to be a teenager. And yet, they are the natives that can help us navigate the technological shift we find ourselves in. Not because they know more about it than we do, but because they don’t know anything else. This world of tech that moves faster than we can discover is all they know — it is their life.
We grew up on clipart; the rising generation has grown up with Adobe Photoshop on their computers. We grew up with VHS tapes; the rising generation has been posting videos to YouTube from their cell phone since they were 13. We grew up hiding our sins and secrets; the rising generation has been posting them on Facebook and other websites for all to see.
So when we need the new design for our church website, where do we turn? When you needed to set up a Twitter account for your church announcements, who did you ask? When you couldn’t get the download to work for your small group, what did you do?
The rising generation is desperate for a calling. They need to know that life is about more than just change and the newest gadget. They need to know they have a place in our church, or they will leave. Can we be so bold as to ask the rising generation to teach us their ways? To let them lead? And, in doing so, in those times when we ask them the seemingly trivial questions of why did you choose that color, what software is best for this, perhaps we can stop and teach them the value of prayer, share a verse we’ve memorized — and why we memorize things instead of just Googling them — and take a moment to ask how their day was.
Aaron Linne is executive producer of digital marketing for the B&H Publishing Group of LifeWay Christian Resources of the Southern Baptist Convention. He writes a monthly technology column for Baptist Press.