A few weeks ago, a prominent youth ministry blog suggested that youth pastors should all get smartphones because “apps were the way to go”.  The conjecture that seemed to come from that blog was if a youth pastor doesn’t have a cell phone, that person can’t be effective in ministry.  That really seems to irritate me.

Grant it, it seems through my days, there are some things that really help make the administration of ministry easier (LCD projectors, laptops, etc.).  However, are they all essential?  Is a smartphone essential?  Right now, I’ve got a Samsung Propel that I’m able to utilize to do what I want it to do.  I’ve played around with smartphones before and they are really convenient, but my cheap side says 1. relatively expensive to get and 2. if I break it (which could happen given how I abuse phones) it’ll be much more expensive to replace.  I am fighting the urge and “societal pressure” that says, “You must get a smartphone.”  I see many of my colleagues with similar gadgets/toys and wonder, is it worth it all?

I wonder if at times we sync too many of our resources into stuff like this.  Would we be able to minister in a very limited tech-enabled world (I challenge myself with this as well)?  The fact is, at the end of the day, many of these tools are useful, helpful and convenient, but they ARE NOT a necessity in life, much less in ministry.  The fact is, perhaps we have become too dependent on these tools, maybe even made them idols themselves (I remember when the iPhone 4 came out, the Apple worshippers all gathered with their hundreds of dollars waiting to sacrifice it before the blue-shirted priests of Steve Jobs) (maybe that’s too far).

This year, in our CBOQ Youth winter retreats, we’ve challenged each other to be more creative in carrying out effective ministry but not breaking the bank to do so.  Anyone can spend money to look good.  But using our resources in ways to the “best bang for the buck” I think is a way of stewardship, thus redirecting other resources for far more pressing issues.

Perhaps a smartphone, or any technology for that matter, isn’t necessarily a necessity of life.