Pastor Judah Smith of The City Church in Seattle, Washington, is known for fostering relationships with Millennial celebrities like Justin Bieber, Russell Wilson and Ciara.
But despite his success and his deep connection with one of America’s most tech-savvy generations, Smith told Faithwire he’s preparing to trade in his iPhone for a traditional, old-school flip phone — a move that might seem shocking to some of his fans.
“I’m getting a flip phone and my phone will only text and call,” he said during a recent visit to the Faithwire newsroom. “I have faith for it … I just felt this was the right thing to do for me.”
Smith said he’s that guy who can’t resist going on Snapchat or heading over to TMZ if access is so easily available, and so he’s taking the step in an effort to rid himself of that temptation and the resulting distractions. He revealed his decision while responding to a question about the intense division raging in American society these days.
“I think a lot has been perpetrated by the technological age. I don’t know if we were designed for this much data and innovation of information,” he said, going on to explain a hypothetical example of him trying to shop at the store with his kids while seeing overwhelming alerts come across his phone.
Smith continued, “All of the sudden, on my news feed, here comes six naturally disasters, four social injustices — and now I’m literally trying to reconcile my 10 year old who’s grabbing Lucky Charms again — and I’ve told him no 12 times — and I’m trying to process that, in Africa, there has been this horrible genocide.”
In the end, Smith said he’s not sure the “human condition was designed for that,” and pointed to the contentious 2016 presidential election as a potential byproduct of this informational influx.
“The extreme narrative and the provocativeness of this election — I wonder if it’s because it’s what we’ve become accustomed to and it’s what we’ve digested,” he said. “It’s what we’re feeding on and we have an appetite on it.”
Listen to his comments below at the 1 hour 11-min mark:
While Smith said he’s by no means on a campaign to try and convince everyone to abandon iPhones and smartphones, he’s hoping people will at least think a bit deeper about what they’re consuming.
“Would you at least consider the intake, consider the inundation, consider the information that you are being bombarded with?” he asked listeners.
Smith also discussed a variety of other subjects, including race relations, his new book, “How’s Your Soul?” and his friendship with Bieber.
“Justin is extraordinary. He’s grown so much as we all need to,” he said. “We talk nearly every day and I’m so proud of the young man that he is. I think I’ve learned more from him about life and living than he’s ever learned from me.”
He continued, “I think he’s lived the life of about 20 people … he’s a philosopher of sorts … the depth within him is extraordinary.”
As for the increase in divisiveness that has seemingly been raging of late, Smith encouraged people to “elevate the conversation” and to more fervently consider the pain that others feel.
“I wonder if Christians are known for listening very well,” he said. “I listen to reply, particularly as a pastor, but do I listen to understand? I look at the life of Jesus. He was extraordinaty when it came to his social experience. He moved toward the pain, whether it was the pain of women in his day or the pain of Samaritans in his day.”
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