A Commitment to God honoring technology use
An Open Letter to the American Church
Dear brother or sister,
I write to you because American Christianity is in a crisis of discipleship. We have become a people who give far more of our attention - and thus far more of our heart - to screens than to Jesus Christ and his Word.
This crisis is the root of the symptoms we now witness daily: deep isolation, politics as religion, major disagreements on plain facts, unbridled conspiracy theories, chronic mental illness, and degrading church membership. The list goes on.
No one set out to be this way. But our silent adoption of modern technology habits ensures that we will remain this way.
This is devastating to our life and witness. How could we possibly be people who learn to pray, to read scripture, or to discern the Holy Sprit’s voice if we do not know how to look away from our screens. How could we possibly learn to love God with all our heart, when our heart is so captured? How could we possibly learn to love our neighbor as ourself, when we are digitally trained to either ignore or hate them?
If you keep a bottle of whiskey in your pocket, and sipped from it all day, no one would disagree you had a problem. But we collectively sip from the flask of smartphones by the minute. Both of the above problems change our mental health, alter all our relationships, dull our discernment, and render us incapable of discipleship. However, only one is recognized.
It is time that we realize that we are functionally being disciplined by technology and media companies who could care less about us, though we are called to be discipled by the Lord Jesus who gave his life for us.
In short, we must control our use of technology - or technology will control us. Here is one step in that direction. I invite you, your church, and your friends are invited to take this pledge, and hold each other accountable to it.
This is not just for you. Consider this: What if one of the main ways the American church became a light to our culture was because we used technology so differently?
Let us live into that call. Let us love like Christ did and be his light.
Justin Whitmel Earley
By Gods grace, I humbly commit that:
1. I will make a habit of attending church in person, not virtually. Hebrews 10:25
2. I will seek vulnerability, intimacy and friendship primarily in person, rather than online. Acts 2:42
3. I will discipline my habits of news media by: (i) avoiding news websites with clickbait, (ii) seeing seeking multiple sources from differing perspectives, (iii) by not posting something I have not read, (iv) and by not spending more time a week in front of cable news or social media than I do in small groups, church services, prayer times, scripture reading times, and in-person conversation with friends.
4. I will honor the 9th commandment not to lie by seeking the truth in online information, not pretending to be an expert on issues I do not understand, not casting doubt on facts unless I can present better facts or ask constructive questions, and by fighting misinformation and conspiracies knowing that “the truth will set us free” even when it is inconvenient truth. Exodus 20:16
5. Because everyone online is an image bearer of God, I will not call people names online or make ad hominem (“against the person”) arguments. Nor will I participate in cancelling anyone. I will not shame anyone. Instead, I will humbly call others to correction in grace and truth.
6. I will not text or message to resolve a conflict when I should call or speak in person. I will not unfollow or block someone when I should speak to them personally. Hebrews 10:14
7. I will honor the tenth commandment by not give my clicks, my attention, or my money to porn. Rather I will pray for the end of porn in my generation. Exodus 20:17
8. I will try not to scroll mindlessly on any site or app, but I will only visit websites for a purpose, set time limits for entertainment, turn off auto play and choose my content carefully.
9. I will not hide online by using secret accounts or privacy windows to hide my internet activity, but instead will have at least one person who is allowed to see everything I do online. Proverbs 27:17
10. I will spend at least one hour a day away from all screens, and I will discuss other healthy screen limits with friends. Together, we will humbly teach our children, praying that a new generation will be a light to the world in our use of technology.