Technology makes life easier. It brings people together through the power of instant communication, helps us perform our work more efficiently, and allows us access to information like never before. Because of this, the world is rapidly changing.
This includes the world of religion. Whether you know it or not, your tech has impacted your faith. Whether that impact is positive or negative, however, is up to you. Technology isn’t inherently good or bad—it’s an enhancer, taking existing practices and making them faster, more effective, and easier.
Because of this, technology has the potential to make your faithful habits more productive, but it can also distract, enable immoral behavior, and connect you with faulty information that can lead you away from the teachings of your faith.
So, it’s becoming increasingly important to ask the question: is your tech hurting your faith? To find out, let’s look at the faith-based risks and the benefits of technology, as well as how you can use your tech to get the most out of your religious experiences.
How Tech Can Hurt Faith
To guard against the dangers tech can pose to your faith, you need to familiarize yourself with the risks.
One of the biggest ways technology can be detrimental to your faith might, at first, seem benign, but it is the biggest drawback to our always-on, always-connected era.
That drawback is that technology is distracting.
Right now, you’re probably thinking, “well, duh,” as you read this article, play a mobile game on your phone, and steal glances at another article about abandoned train stations all at the same time, but this problem is bigger than you think.
A constant stream of small distractions can rob you of something very important—purpose.
Consider this. Instead of dwelling on the direction of your life during your morning walk, you’re on Facebook. Rather than listening to your pastor on Sunday, you’re browsing Reddit. And rather than praying at night, you’re streaming Netflix.
Over a lifetime, this can lead to spiritual stagnation. You never progress in your faith—or, for that matter, in many other areas of your life. You never fulfill the purpose your faith is supposed to help you find. You’re paralyzed because you give in to every one of the countless distractions which surround you in our high-tech world.
That’s a huge problem.
Distraction aside, technology also connects us to, quite literally, everything—including the immoral and the misleading. You no longer have to leave the house to grab a risqué magazine. The cult leader no longer has to come to you. Everything is instantly available.
Because of this, all of the traditional dangers to faith are amplified, but there’s still much you can do to make sure you stay true to your faith.
What You Can Do
If you want to keep your faith alive and strong, despite technological temptations, you need to learn how to manage your time. Set aside a little slice of each day where you vow to be distraction-free. Use this time to focus on the development of your spiritual life, whether that means prayer, reading your Bible, or conversing with a spiritual mentor.
Your time is your most precious resource. Guard it well, or it will slip through your fingers—and your faith, with it.
You must also learn how to live in the moment, not allowing any piece of technology to become an all-consuming idol in your life. If you’re in church, keep your phone in your pocket, or limit yourself to leafing through your electronic Bible. If you’re praying, stay off the internet. Devote yourself to the moment when engaging with your faith, and you’ll soon find that your spiritual life is all the richer.
And when it comes to temptation and misinformation, discernment is key. If you’re regularly engaging with your faith, you know what’s acceptable and what’s not. Start applying that to your online life.
This means critically evaluating the information and media you consume rather than accepting it at face value. If it honors God, make use of it. If it encourages sin, don’t. If you find false teachings, however persuasive they may be, ignore them. Learn how to take the best of the unlimited information of the internet, while leaving the dregs behind, and you’ll have a powerful, faith-affirming tool at your disposal.
Making the Best of Tech
Whatever risk the world of tech might pose to that of faith, the advantages are just as powerful. Religious organizations are rapidly finding that they can reach far more people through tech. Faith leaders now have websites, blogs, and social media feeds. Churches can send out calls to prayer over email and text. Church groups can meet online to chat about their beliefs. It has never been so easy to reach so many.
And just as the printing press allowed for the mass production of Bibles in the 16th century, the web is revolutionizing faith by providing adherents with massive amounts of faith-based knowledge and interpretational texts. The opportunity to understand one’s faith in a deeper way has never been greater.
And just as importantly, never before has there been such an opportunity for believers to connect with one another. The religious techie can organize charity drives, church meetings, and prayer groups with a few button presses, putting faith into action, instantly.
At the personal level, you can take advantage of all this by taking the time to consider the tools at your disposal, and how they might fit into your life. For instance, do you find yourself forgetting about prayer time? Put it in your phone’s calendar. Do you have unusual insight into your faith? Start a blog, podcast, or YouTube channel and spread the wisdom. The possibilities are limitless—you just have to be willing to see them.
As long as we remain discerning, technology has the potential to change the world of faith for the better, giving us the tools to learn, connect, and practice our faith in better ways.
A Stronger Faith
Human beings were created with minds capable of improving the world, and technology is just one of the ways in which we do that. Don’t be afraid to embrace each technological advancement as a gift that can enrich your life and enliven your faith in ways you never thought possible.