3 Lessons Church Leaders Can Learn From the Emoji Bible
The King James only crowd is finally cool again. Well at the very least, they have emojis. Earlier this week, the very first emoji Bible was released on ITunes. And it’s based on the KJV. How cool? As the anonymous translator told one newspaper,
“I think if we were to fast-forward 100 years, an ‘emoji’ Bible of some kind would exist, so I thought, ‘Why not try and make it?
In short, the latest attempt to produce a contextualized translation of the scriptures that today’s adults can relate to has popped out an emoji Bible. If you want to try it out for yourself: click here to turn your favorite verses into the emoji translation.
While I do not think anyone has to switch over to the Emoji Bible, we do need to realize what it signifies. It signifies that our world is changing. If we hope to reach the next generation with the scriptures, we Christians must be willing to embrace social media, emojis, and whatever else comes next. Believe it or not, the Emoji Bible is targeting people between the ages of 17-35. If Millennials are speaking emoji, what will their kids be speaking?
Now, I do not think we need to embrace emojis as a major form of biblical communication. The written word carries power that pictures cannot. The medieval church found this out the hard way. All those beautiful stained glass windows were placed in Cathedrals to help the poor understand the Bible. But those pictures lacked the gospel inspired insight of the Holy Spirit. Even today, millions of people interact with those pictures and have no clue what they really mean. God’s word is the power to salvation. No picture or group of pictures can take the place of the words found in Genesis, Psalms, Isaiah, Matthew, or Romans. In many ways, appealing to emojis is not so much a leap into the future as a step back into the past. (Nothing new under the sun). We already tried the picture book approach and should stay with the written word. But at the end of the day, I am not too concerned about the Emoji Bible’s effect on biblical translation. As Christ said, in Matthew 5:18,
4 truly, i say 2 u, until ✨✨✨ & 🌎 pass away, not an iota, not a dot, will pass from the law until all is accomplished.
The Emoji Bible represents that our culture is reachable if we are willing to be fluid and creative. Again, I am not talking about doctrine or about the scriptures. God’s word is God’s word in every age.
Jesus Christ is the same yesterday and today and forever – Heb. 13:8.
I am discussing our methods of communication. Here our three things the Emoji Bible teaches us:
1. We can connect with our culture
Did you notice that Emoji Bible was not published by Lifeway, Zondervan, or Crossway? It was self-published. The days of taking years and months to respond to change are over. Anyone can communicate at any time. As the church, we need to embrace our technological world. We need to blog, host video conferences, and tweet. We need to be willing to quickly and thoughtfully engage our culture. If we wait till Sunday and Wednesday to influence people, we will reach fewer and fewer men and women. We need to be ready to spontaneously connect with the world around us as needs arise.
2.We need to be embrace to change
As I said earlier, I do not think the Emoji bible is a huge step in the development of Bible translations. But it is a great attempt at going with the culture. And we need to learn from its author. We need to seek to reach people where they are and with their language. If everyone is on Instagram or Snapchat, then we should go to Instagram and Snapchat. If people start communicating primarily through Facebook live streaming, then we should start live streaming. The Emoji Bible is showing us that we need to be willing to let the tools of yesteryear fade. Instead pridefully clinging to what has worked, we need to embrace the spontaneity of this generation and our kids’ generation. We need to be willing to change.
3.We need to be creative
I know the Emoji Bible is not a great work of art. I know it’s not going to be placed in the Louvre anytime soon. But it is super creative. People are talking about it because it represents out of the box thinking. It represents creativity. It represents something new. We and the people in our churches need to be creative. We need to be finding new ways to communicate the amazing story of the gospel. It’s not boring. Our God’s not boring. We need to reflect God’s character when we communicate the word.
I do not know what language our kids will speak. But I am sure of this: to reach kids, to reach this current generation of millennials with the gospel, we must embrace the methodology behind the Emoji Bible. We must seek to reach our culture by being willing to change and by embracing creativity!