Nearly every week, I hear from pastors, ministry leaders, or parents about the ethical challenges they face as they encourage those under their care to love God and love neighbor (Matt. 22:37–39). Many of these questions center on the digital advances of our day—especially social media.
As we enter another year, here are three truths to equip yourself and your people to wisely follow Jesus in a digital age.
1. The Christian ethic is more than sufficient for our day.
We tend to believe we’re facing novel issues the writers of the Bible didn’t foresee and couldn’t address. While it’s true these writers never talked about social media, algorithms, or ChatGPT, the assumption that the Bible is insufficient for the challenges of our day is misplaced. It’s driven by thinking of the Christian ethic as a set of rules rather than as a rich framework for pursuing wisdom no matter what comes our way.
Many, if not all, of our current ethical issues are rooted in deeper questions of what it means to be human and from where we derive our ethical norms. For those underlying theological and philosophical questions, the Bible is more than sufficient. God’s Word is true and profitable (2 Tim. 3:16–17). It’s a steadfast guide to living in an increasingly digital society in light of who God is and what he’s accomplished through Christ on the cross.
2. Technology is connected to every part of our lives.
Many leaders feel overwhelmed by the sheer number of issues to address with our families or churches. But technology isn’t a separate issue—it’s connected to nearly everything we’re already seeking to address with the Christian ethic. How we think about biomedical advances, the rise of powerful artificial intelligence, and the latest social media platform is informed by our understanding of concepts like human identity, dignity, and justice.
God’s Word is true and profitable. It’s a steadfast guide to living in an increasingly digital society.
Technology doesn’t require asking new or novel questions but asking old questions in light of new opportunities. As the possibilities expand, there are new ways for our fundamental vices to be magnified. We’re always seeking to center the world around ourselves rather than around God our Creator.
So while you need to address the challenges of technology head-on, you don’t have to preach a whole series on technology or even add these issues to the ever-growing list of discipleship topics. Instead, address them through your regular teaching of God’s Word, making connections between biblical truth and the world your people inhabit. Over time, you’ll cultivate biblical wisdom in your people and help them develop lasting habits.
3. Technology is a big issue that should be addressed with small steps.
One of the most damaging myths about technology is that it’s simply a neutral tool we can use for good or ill. While this view reminds us we bear moral responsibility for how we develop and use technology, it fails to acknowledge that digital tools are created for specific purposes and with certain values—which may not always align with the Christian ethic.
We’re all discipled daily by something or someone (Rom. 12:1–2). The question isn’t whether you’re discipled by technology but how and for what purpose.
The question isn’t whether you’re discipled by technology but how and for what purpose.
Given how subtly technology shapes us and our view of the world—including the nature of truth, responsibility, and even our identities—we need to see that five easy steps or a neat little checklist aren’t going to fix our relationship with technology. The challenges we face are too deep and ingrained to be remedied overnight. A quick-fix mentality reveals we’re trying to wrestle down our technological temptations and sins with our own strength.
Yet taking steps is still helpful. It’s the small decisions we make each day that disciple our hearts and bring lasting change in our relationship with these tools. Commit to the daily work of asking the Holy Spirit to renew your mind as you seek to follow Jesus in a digital age. Out of that will grow convictions about which tools to use, when, and for what purpose.
Lead Them to Scripture
As a pastor, you should talk about the proper use of technology. As a parent, you should lay down rules for how your children use social media or video games. But more importantly, point your people to a daily diet of Scripture reading and prayer. Regularly emphasize God’s perfect standards for our digital behavior, our inability to meet them on our own, and the beautiful grace offered to us by Jesus on the cross. Pray with and for your people, encourage them to memorize Scripture, and openly delight in their everyday walking with the Lord.
As you do, remember that not a single technological development has ever surprised our God or caught him off guard. We need not be naive optimists or detached pessimists. Biblical wisdom calls us to be rooted in the reality of how technology is shaping us but also to live in light of Christ’s victory and the new life we have in him.