NASHVILLE — In this new phase of my ministry and life, I am able to spend a bit more time listening to someone else preach sermons on Sunday. On those special occasions when I am in town, my wife and I sit in the pew and listen to the message of our pastor, Mike Glenn, at Brentwood Baptist Church.
When Mike began to read the biblical text for his sermon recently, I did not turn the page to the scriptural passage. Well, I didn't turn the page in a paper Bible. But I did push a button and the electronic version appeared magically on the screen in my hands.
I had the new Amazon Kindle in church. In less than 60 seconds, one can download books, magazines, newspapers, or blogs. The device weighs just over 10 ounces and the screen is as clear as the page of a paper book. The first book I downloaded was the Bible, the Holman Christian Standard Bible translation, of course.
My wife, Nellie Jo, was somewhat concerned that I might push other buttons and read the Wall Street Journal or the latest biography of Benjamin Franklin during the sermon. I assured her that Pastor Mike and his message would have my complete attention. I was never tempted to wander from the sermon or the text.
I absolutely love owning a Kindle. I no longer take three or four heavy books when I travel. I download them on my Kindle at a cost much less than the paper versions. I also like the ability to change the font size as my boomer eyes weaken with age.
But this article is not a promotional piece on the Kindle, though I have done a decent job of lauding the device. My purpose instead is to focus on that which really matters in our churches.
The Kindle is a means of delivery. It is a preference of mine about how I like to acquire and read books, including the Bible. But it is not the most important thing about church, not even close.
What is important is the Word of God, the exclusive message of the Gospel, the evangelization of the lost, the discipleship of the saved, the priority of prayer, and the Christlike love we demonstrate toward others.
I hope no one at Brentwood Baptist minds that I bring a Kindle to church. If they do, I will simply stop bringing it. It is just not that important.
But many churches have great dissension over similar issues of relative unimportance. Some members fight and fuss over the nonessentials and neglect the essential. So we have worship wars, pastor critics, and whiners of all stripes. And the world around us goes to hell while many of us fail to demonstrate Christian love with those who need to know Him.
I really like my Kindle. But I love Jesus more. And I love His Word more. I pray that I can become the type of Christian and church member who focuses on that which really matters.
"He said to him, 'Love the Lord your God with all your heart, with all your soul, and with all your mind. This is the greatest and most important commandment. The second is like it: Love your neighbor as yourself'" (Matthew 22:37-39).
That's what really matters.
Pretty important words.
I read them on my Kindle.
Dr. Thom Rainer is president of LifeWay Christian Resources of the Southern Baptist.