As mobile software becomes more a part of our lives, whether on smartphones, PDA’s, or other devices, these applications bring us into contact with each other more than ever before. I can keep up with my congregation through their Facebook pages and Twitter posts and know what’s happening with them as it happens. Through email, I can have lengthy, researched theological discussions. And in forums, I can discuss the Faith with total strangers all over the world.
But is there a need for a “Christian” mobile application, or does the current crop of more general purpose apps lend its use to specifically Christian needs, or even religiousneeds in general? Is there a need for a mobile “discipleship” application? I can already send prayer requests and responses through Twitter, Facebook, or the rest, but could new software do a better job? Let’s take a look at a handful of needs and consider some possibilities.
The most important aspect of a mobile discipleship application is, as I see it, keeping the mind on God throughout the day, keeping the focus and perspective that all we do comes under God’s Kingdom. One way to do this would be through some kind of daily devotion. While free daily devotions abound on websites, rss feeds, and email subscriptions, giving the Christian quick, easy access would be handy, not to mention encouraging personal “time with God” and spiritual growth. In a mobile app, I see no reason to reinvent the wheel. Simply offer a list of devotions that are available via RSS feed, and allow the user to choose 1. Also allow custom entry in case the user prefers a different feed. Daily Bible readings should accompany this as well, but are probably less prevalent. I’ve already compiled a “verse of the day” database but would recommend a “passage of the day” database instead.
Mobile Bible Reading
Speaking of Bible reading, a mobile Bible index would be handy as well. Olive Tree Software makes a great app for Palm, PocketPC, and other apps. While this feature could easily be separate from the rest of what I’m proposing here, several Bible apps already exist for iPhone/iPod Touch and most mobile platforms, often for free, plus a license fee for certain translations.
Prayer needs in a mobile app fall into several categories: requests, suggestions, and instruction.
First, imagine being able to post a prayer request, either on this app or using a web form, and suddenly, hundreds or thousands of people are praying for you or your loved one. In your personal prayer time, do you wonder what to pray about or whom to pray for? This would offer a running list. Depending on popularity, the list of prayer requests could get long, so you could just look at the list while praying and for as long as you pray. Consequently, not every person will be praying for every request. While this could potentially lead to gossip, those posting requests would be encouraged to submit only a first name. (God knows who we’re praying for, even if we don’t.) It would also need some kind of moderation or filtering to prevent trolling and spamming.
Besides the live feed of personal requests, suggestions for prayer could also be included, such as prayer for the government, families, churches, the lost, and many more. Psalms would also work well, given that they are inspired prayers.
Finally, many don’t know how to begin or may feel insecure about approaching the Almighty. Some instruction may be helpful. I would suggest starting with the Lord’s Prayer, but other suggestions include a daily prayer thought, like, “God listens to our prayers, not because we deserve to be heard, but because Jesus earned the right for us.”
Sites like fshbwl offer a great place for theological discussion in a daily life sense, bouncing ideas around and applying the rubber to the road. I know of no existing app except something like Twitter, but in order to have a decent discussion, you absolutely need more than 140 characters, so some kind of chat or forum functionality would be important to provide spiritual growth through iron sharpening iron. Again, spam filters would be necessary, and this would likely attract trolls at some point, but a proper community should be able to handle trolls.
Teaching the basics of the faith and expanding on them would not so much be a separate function, but a running theme throughout the application. I see this, though, as something that needs to be intentionally integrated wherever possible.
Here’s an area I’m wondering about. How could this application provide, enhance, or augment personal or corporate (presumably small-group) worship? Maybe it would provide liturgies for personal devotional times or small groups. Maybe music enters in here somewhere. Leave a comment below to offer suggestions.
What else am I missing? What wouldn’t be necessary? How do you envision such an app, or do you see it as unnecessary? Post a comment, and join in the discussion.