Well I just finished leading a session at the “Future of the Church Summit” with Exponential and I wanted to share one idea I shared there. In fact, it’s one that I’ve been thinking about for the last 18 months.
…but before I get there, let me set the stage about where our ever-increasing-digital-world is.
This is the current digital terrain we live in:
- People spend an average of 37.8 hours a week on a smartphone
- The average person consumes roughly 100,000 words a week from reading social media feeds (that’s the equivalent of like a 500 page book!)
- 1/3rd of Millennials have a medically diagnosed anxiety disorder linked to social media activity (PS: The oldest Millennial turned 40 last year!)
- 79% of North American self-diagnose as “addicted to their screen”
It takes roughly 10 years to get research back on the long-term affects of a new technology, so we’re just seeing the first wave of results about how we relate to smartphones and what they do to us over time. And folks…it’s catastrophic.
Here’s the point: Christian or not, it’s not whether or not people are being discipled. They are! And their most active discipler is the little device they hold in their hands.
What we are talking about is full-blown addiction.
Now in the 1930’s, there was another kind of addiction that finally got some breakthrough: Alcoholism.And through the inspiring work of Bill Wilson and Bob Smith, Alcoholics Anonymous was born. Today, more than 130 million people found freedom from an addiction they just couldn’t break. But even better? Scores of people encountered God and came to faith in Jesus Christ.
So what’s the big idea I’ve been thinking about for the last 18 months? There will be leaders who press into this opportunity to get people freedom from screen addiction. It’s hard to explain the ways in which there is a looming catastrophe on the horizon (if you haven’t watched The Social Dilemma on Netflix, it’s worth the watch). But as with all things, this presents a gospel opportunity for the people of God. Not only do we get to demonstrate what freedom from addiction looks like, we get to share stories of hope and a process for that breakthrough.
I believe getting people this level of freedom presents a generational opportunity for evangelism and discipleship. The question is this: Who will start working on it now?
I think Andy and Amy Crouch have done some great preliminary thinking on this with My Tech-Wise Life and The Tech-Wise Family. I know both of those books have been helpful in how my wife and I are discipling our kids (and ourselves!).
My crazy prayer I’ve been praying all week? Maybe the Lord is spurring one of the readers of this article, or one of the listeners at Exponential, to start the next AA.