Christians and Screen Time

by Chris Skinner | Nov 27, 2019 | Articles

You’re probably reading this book review on a screen. You’ve most likely looked at screens for several hours today and will check your smartphone over seventy times. For young adults, these numbers are even higher.

If you compare that amount of time and the information consumed with the number of hours you’ve devoted to reading your Bible, Christian fellowship, and prayer, you’ll understand the importance of David Kinnaman and Mark Matlock’s new book, Faith for Exiles: 5 Ways for a New Generation to Follow Jesus in Digital Babylon. The authors summarize the enormous influence and power of screens in two words: screens disciple.

Navigating Tech as a Parent

How do we, as Christians who are looking to raise the next generation of Jesus-followers, navigate this landscape? That’s the focus of this book. The authors work with Christian-based research organization, Barna Group, to identify five practices that make followers of Jesus what they call “resilient exiles.” Kinnaman and Matlock focus on the example of Daniel and his friends who were exiles in a foreign land but resisted the pull of the culture away from God and followed him faithfully. Christians who would be “resilient exiles” are Christians who do the same in today’s culture, which they term “digital Babylon.”

As a parent, I’ve spent plenty of time thinking about the influence that screens have on my children. I often wonder if a video game, a YouTube video, or a social media feed has more influence over them than the gospel does at any time. But this book is not just for those who are parents or actively discipling young people. It will challenge any adult to take a look at their own practices and ask if they’ve done what’s necessary to ensure they’re living as a “resilient exile.”

Resilience: Christianity and Screen Time

To become a resilient exile, consider how you might implement the following:  

  1. Experience intimacy with Jesus
  2. Develop cultural discernment
  3. Forge meaningful, intergenerational relationships
  4. Train for vocational discipleship
  5. Engage in countercultural mission

All of these practices run counter to the climate the authors describe as anxious, mistrusting, complex, ambitious, entitled, and self-centered.

The book provides details for developing these practices in your own life. Each suggestion is biblical, well thought-out, and compelling. Although many Christians have known these practices for years, Kinnaman and Matlock expertly weave them into today’s context.

Faith for Exiles makes a compelling case for winsome concern about the influence of “digital Babylon.” It also delivers a well-researched plan for living a life that is an influence on the culture for the glory of God. As “resilient exiles” in a foreign land, we can be encouraged that our God is with us and just as he strengthened Daniel in Babylon, so too he will strengthen us.