Now there is an "app" for Catholics aimed at helping them prepare for confession, and it is aptly titled "Confession: A Roman Catholic App."
App is short for application, a small computer program that can be loaded onto an iPhone or other smartphone. Apple, the company that introduced the iPhone nearly four years ago sells apps - 300,000 of them - on its online iTunes store. Other smartphone brands have their own versions of the apps.
Confession caused a bit of a stir upon release because some Catholics presumed it meant the app provided a private, do-it-yourself way to circumvent the confessional booth and priest. But the app's developers debunk that notion, saying the confession app facilitates a "personalized examination of conscience for each user, password protected files and a step-by-step guide to the sacrament."
The Vatican was quick to issue its own clarification on confession. "One may not speak in any sense of confessing via iPhone," Rev. Federico Lombardi, director of the Holy See Press Office, said. In other words, the iPhone app is not able to forgive sins.
Developed by a pair of tech entrepreneurs with the help of two priests and the blessing of a bishop, the app features a questionnaire of sins and is promoted as a tool to revive interest in the sacrament of confession and to help Catholics prepare for the sacrament.
It is impossible to know whether this app will catch on among Catholics, but it is getting a good bit of press. Reaction from the Vatican naturally adds to the awareness among the Catholic faithful.
Baptists could benefit from an app that encourages confession. One pundit suggested such an app might be better named iConfess. It might help Christians just to have the iConfess icon sitting on the screen of a smartphone. The drawback of keeping a list of sins of course is that - once forgiven - they need to be forgotten.
But there are other possibilities for apps that Baptists might purchase or, better yet, download for free. Bibles in almost every translation already are available, some with reading plans, as are various apps to help track prayer and remind people to pray.
Here are some ideas (some better than others) for some Christian apps that may or may not already exist in some form:
iCovered Dish (or maybe iPotluck)
This app could include sample assignment sheets, suggested food combinations, recipes to share. It might include a method of tracking what a person or family has most recently provided for church potlucks. Some would suggest it should not include a calorie counter.
iTithe (or perhaps iGive)
An app like this could help a family track undesignated and designated gifts through its church, not to mention other non-profit pledges and commitments. Like iConfess, just having this one showing up on the phone will be a good reminder to give.
iSurrender All (or maybe iWitness)
Decidedly evangelistic, an app like this might appeal to seekers or it might be an app believers could recommend to their unchurched friends or even use as a witnessing tool. It could include answers to common questions about faith in Christ as well as steps to help people make a faith commitment (like the Roman Road) or to locate someone who could help them.
Some other ideas for apps that might especially be helpful among believers could have titles such as iRepent, iBelieve, iMinister, iCare, iForgive, i'm Available (for ministers between churches), iEmpathize, iLast Things (for getting one's affairs in order), etc.
There is every reason to utilize popular tools like apps to enhance kingdom business.
Bill Webb is editor of Word&Way.