Jesus is taking up too much space on my phone.

I already had a Bible app, an Instagram feed full of artsy shots of my morning devotions, and a few worship music playlists when the Proverbs 31 women’s ministry launched an app with a daily morning devotional. I downloaded it, and encouraged my Bible study and freshman mentees to do the same. A few days later, my university introduced an app for our Wednesday night services. My storage is plummeting enough that I considered deleting my email and weather apps to keep up with the onslaught of holier options.

There’s a reason “there’s an app for that” took off among the church as well as the culture at large. Through these icons on our phones, we can access helpful resources easily, quickly, and mostly for free. I downloaded Proverbs 31’s “First Five” because I knew and loved the ministry that created it, and I struggled to find ways to support the women in my Bible study that had difficulty maintaining a daily quiet time.

But with each new app to download, I began to wonder about the downside of the convenience demanded in almost every area of our lives. Innovation has come through again and again on its promise to make our lives more efficient. But with our high-tech expectations, has convenience become an idol?

On our smart phones, our devotional activity evolves just like the way we order food or stream videos. It’s quick—carefully timed and curated for us. Audio features may even read a Scripture passage to you. You don’t have to leave your bed, open a Bible, or spend more than five minutes to check your daily devotions off your to-do list (which is probably also on your phone).

We see the church pushing for convenience in other areas: online giving, church-based social networks, sermon podcasts, streaming services, and more. There are clear perks to these methods, including the ability to reach people across the globe. And perhaps the efficiency of these methods frees up Christians to go deeper into Bible study and evangelism. But I worry that our motivation at times is not ministry or mission, but convenience itself. Are we actually trying to make Christianity as painless as possible?

Jesus told large crowds of people: This is going to be hard. In Luke 14, he warned his followers to “count the cost” of being a disciple. They had to decide for themselves if it was worth it, because it cost something. We can’t expect his truth to impact our lives if we try and minimize our time and investment in discipleship. When people asked Jesus what they needed to do to follow him, he pointed them to the cross. He told them to give away everything they have, embrace homelessness, hate their family, and give up their very life. (For comparison: We now need an alarm to remind us to read a ready-made Bible commentary for what might be the only five minutes we devote to God all day.)

Our lives will obviously look different than the 12 men who followed Christ, but we can at least strive for the right motivations. Stewarding our time well, and using it to God’s glory, requires us to make choices based on convenience or efficiency. It’s not wrong to choose the easier or quicker option. But just like dry shampoo and mini toothbrushes, there are “convenient” options that pale in comparison to the real thing. These aren’t meant to be full-time replacements. In the same way, we can use technology and convenience in addition to the day-to-day work we do to follow God and his commands.

For me, scrolling through an online devotion pales in comparison to pulling out a Bible, feeling the weight of it in my hands, turning the pages, scribbling thoughts in the margins, and watching it fill up with my own notes, church bulletins stuffed between pages. Watching an online church service can’t compare with reaching out and shaking hands, hearing voices both melodious and discordant saturate the room, and sacrificing time for the fellowship of others.

And yet there are obvious benefits to utilizing technological gains for advancing the Kingdom. It’s the story of all creation: God creates good things, sin distorts them, but there is always hope for redemption. Instead of letting technology shape the way we think about the world, we should let the way we think about the world shape the way we use technology.

Using apps aimed at streamlining our lives could cause us to view our time with God as yet another intrusion. Or we can deliberately resist that mindset, and realize our time with the Lord and Savior is different, even when on our screens. We can linger and savor our devotions, rejecting the allure of efficiency for the sake of communion with God… and with each other. For the women in my Bible study, my hope is that these apps can equip us to better serve each other and build our real-world relationships, rather than lead us to believe we can grow in Christ on our own, just us and our iPhone screens.

Kaitlyn Schiess is a senior at Liberty University. She is planning on attending seminary after graduation. Kaitlyn serves as spiritual life director for the Liberty Debate Team, works for the social media team in Liberty’s Marketing Department, and regularly blogs at

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