Tuesday, May 16, 2006

God's Call Comes by Cellphone

Bible verses on a BlackBerry, sermons on an MP3 -- an explosion in digitalized spirituality is making true believers of online e-vangelists.
By Stephanie Simon, Times Staff Writer
May 16, 2006

A recent national poll found just 17% of adults view the local church as essential for developing faith.

Small wonder.

Sitting in a pew on Sunday morning seems almost embarrassingly old-fashioned in an era when you can watch a video recreation of the Last Supper on your Palm or get God's word text-messaged to your cellphone.

Bored with your pastor's ramblings? Select a peppier sermon from among hundreds of "godcasts" online. Just pick a topic: Christian dating? Old Testament prophets? Then download it to your MP3 player.

Finding the old leather-bound Bible a bit cumbersome? A quick download from Olive Tree Bible Software and you'll be able to search Scripture on your BlackBerry.

"At first blush, it may seem a little peculiar to connect with God on your cellphone," said Christopher Chisholm, a TV-executive-turned-digital-evangelist. He recently helped launch FaithMobile, a service that will send a daily Bible verse to your cellphone for $5.99 a month.

In this harried age, he asks, how else are you going to "get in touch with the Word?"

The explosion in digitized spirituality might seem likely to make the traditional sanctuary obsolete. But pastors are not giving in. They're fighting back with some high-tech tricks of their own, turning to the Internet to save souls, renew faith, inspire hope — and, not incidentally, to fill their pews.

Read the rest: God's Call Comes by Cellphone


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