Church’s Bible App Reaches 10 Million-Plus Users

by | Nov 18, 2010 | Charisma Archive

LifeChurch.tv never set out to be a
leader in the app world—it simply wanted more young people reading the Bible.
Yet Tuesday the Edmond, Okla.-based church celebrated reaching an astounding 10
million-plus users with a smartphone application that remains one of the
world’s most popular.

YouVersion, the free
online and mobile Bible LifeChurch.tv launched as an app in April 2008,
includes 41 different translations in 22 languages. According to Bobby
Gruenewald, LifeChurch.tv’s innovation leader and the app’s developer, someone
new installs YouVersion every 2.8 seconds, while in the same time span 12
people open the Bible app.

“When we set out to
find a way to help people engage with God’s Word and to have a deeper
relationship with Christ, we never realized that God would use one idea in such
a way that could change so many lives and draw people closer to each other and
closer to Him,” Gruenewald said during a webcast on Tuesday.

Gruenewald recounted
how in 2006 the innovative multisite church wanted to find a way to spark a
revolution in Bible engagement using today’s technology. It launched an online
version in 2007, yet when church leaders saw more than 60,000 downloads during
YouVersion’s first three days in an app store, “the Bible app went from a side
project to a main project.”

The app’s reach
continues to expand at an alarming rate, with more than 100,000 people
installing it last weekend and more than 1 million in the last month alone.
Users have spent a combined 3.5 billion minutes engaging with Scripture on
YouVersion.

“I love the access
that YouVersion gives me to God’s Word,” said Stephanie Mielke from Owatona,
Minn. “It allows me to read His Bible, His Word, wherever I’m at or whoever I’m
with when I need to share something.”

Many users report
having never read or understood the Bible until they downloaded the app, while
others have made decisions to become followers of Christ through the smartphone
tool. In countries where Bibles are illegal, users report they now read the
Bible on public transportation since the government sanctions the use of
phones.

“People can have the
Bible with them all the time,” said Kevin Thomas, senior pastor of CCCLiVE.TV in Queensland, Australia. “They can engage
when they’ve got a moment during the day. They can integrate with each other by
Facebook or Twitter to share what God’s saying to them. Make no mistake,
YouVersion is transforming the way we do discipleship in the 21st century.”

For those behind
YouVersion, however, the aim is still the same as when it first launched. “Our
emphasis is not our apps,” Gruenewald said. “The Bible is what we’re passionate
about. Whether it’s our apps, another app, or the Book, we want you to be
engaged with God’s Word.”

During the Nov. 16
webcast, LifeChurch.tv also announced that YouVersion will release topical
Bible reading plans in December. Gruenwald hopes this will motivate users to
read even more and explained that users can read through more than one plan at
once. Some reading plans can be completed in only three or four days, which
Gruenewald hopes will help users establish daily reading habits. YouVersion
currently offers 23 reading plans and will add a Christmas plan later this
week.

YouVersion’s developers
also announced a new note-taking feature on all mobile platforms that allows
users to journal thoughts privately or make public contributions viewed by
other users. The church is working to add more audio and video features so
users can save audio or video thoughts as well. YouVersion has partnered with Faith Comes By Hearing to include audio in multiple
languages on the YouVersion website.

With the ongoing
success of its app, LifeChurch.tv has issue a new challenge to users: Spend 1
billion minutes reading the Bible in one month. Starting in December, the
church will implement several strategies—including an initiative to share the
Bible on Christmas Day—to spark users toward engaging with the Bible more
during January.

“There’s natural momentum for Bible reading that
begins in the New Year,” Gruenewald said. “People are thinking about making New
Year’s resolutions. Even those who aren’t Christians consider reading the Bible
this time of year.”

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