Screen Time & Finding God
While creating things for church, much of the time we’re looking at screens: our phone screen, our desktop, our iPads, ProPresenter, a screen in the auditorium. This fact isn’t uncommon to those around us; today, screen time is increasing at a more rapid rate than ever before. However, in the context of ministry, we must ask the question: where are your eyes fixed and what are you looking for?
With screen time increasing so rapidly, it’s subsequently being regulated more consciously. The most recent Apple iOS update for iPhone records and reports users’ time spent looking at their screen and correlated statistics such as the apps ‘Most Used,’ the average time one spends on their phone and it’s individual apps (measured both daily and weekly), the total amount of times your iPhone has been picked up and what apps were opened, and the total amount notifications you’ve received. This Screen Time feature also provides users the option to add limits. Of course, options to implement limits like these and ‘parental blocks’ have existed on computers for quite some time, but these limits are now being placed before our fingertips as though asking to be put in place. The availability of this option reveals how individuals are concerned with where they are investing their attention and why they’re investing it in the apps they are.
In the North American church sphere, Instagram has become a hotspot for churches and their creative teams. On it, we see church social media representation, digital formats of the Word and sermons alike, churches’ creative teams, photographers, worship leaders, graphic designers, and media specialists all of whom share their work often for others to access. Our screens have become an effective, intuitive resource to gain inspiration from. Of course, the God Who meets us where we are uses something as practical to us as technology to communicate to us, but there is a maximum capacity to our usage. There are limits. Our screens are a resource for inspiration and understanding, but, they are not the source.
God is your source. The Maker of the Heavens and the Earth has equipped you and filled you with His creative nature to do exactly that: create. Think about what media you’re creating and utilizing in your services. It is likely an aspect of communication contributing to something bigger, something so much more beyond your screen, beyond the intrigue of your screen and the rest and information you’re looking for it to provide. Our screens are but a monitor that play a role in the much wider invitation to encounter the living God.
While objectively we do require screens to complete our tasks, consider the condition of your heart as you turn to them. Why are you turning to your screen? What are you looking for? Are you looking for satisfaction or relief? Do you feel tapped out of creative inspiration? You might be shocked if you look at something like the Screen Time feature on an iPhone to see you’ve picked up your phone and opened Instagram 50 times today.
Embrace the arms of your loving God Who is here for you evermore. He is just as—and in fact, more—accessible than your screen. God is not battery powered. There is no operating system that will crash with Him. Turn to Him. Cultivate this space in your heart where you meet with Him. With God being the God of the practical, too, we can ask Him questions. What does He want your church to see? What does He want your church to hear? What does He want your church to understand? How can you build your creativity from His Word? Ask for creative inspiration that is lasting. God is all around. He is within. He goes before you and behind you.
Then, after this encounter, go out. Go to your community, your surroundings, and your screens alike, refreshed and renewed, remembering your need to return to Him again and again.