CLICK, SWIPE, TAP and TYPE.
Eleven years ago those words would not have been related to reading and studying God’s Word. Everything changed in 2008 YouVersion released its free Bible app. Perhaps you’ve noticed a trend in your church where fewer people carry leather-bound paper Bibles, and choose instead to be connected electronically. You may like the sound of flipping pages because it means people are engaged.
Consider how YouVersion changed the world.
Bobby Gruenwald of Life Church founded YouVersion, and its phenomenal success could never have been imagined. Just one of 200 free apps when the Apple store opened, people downloaded YouVersion 83,000 times in the first three days alone. Today, YouVersion says its Bible apps reside on more than 300 million unique phones and tablets including Apple, Android, Blackberry, Windows and Amazon devices.
In the last 10 years, YouVersion Bible app users have read more than 70 billion chapters, listened to 12 billion chapters, and made 4 billion highlights, bookmarks, and notes. Scripture has also been shared 950 million times to social media like Facebook, Instagram, and Twitter. Because of partnerships with publishers and Bible societies, God’s Word is currently available in more than 1,700 versions and more than 1,200 languages.
Why are these statistics important?
Consider this: In 2016, Barna Research reported a disturbing trend. From 1991 to 2009, 45-46 percent of American adults reported reading the Bible at least once a week. Since 2009 that percentage has plummeted to about 33 percent. This alarming decline is perhaps due to the number of Millennials who are now becoming adults. Within this group, only 24 percent claim to read the Bible at least once a week.
Most Millennials may not have been raised in church with a Bible in their hands. But, they have certainly been acquainted with technology for as long as they remember. Reaching this generation requires Christians to rethink their approach to witnessing and sharing truth. So, why not use the technology that rarely leaves their hand, purse or pocket?!
Despite those discouraging statistics in our younger generation, there is some great news – YouVersion is not the only developer helping to influence the hearts and minds of people for Christ. Today there are 12,000 Android apps and nearly 6,000 iOS apps with the word Bible in them. Not all of these are the Holy Bible, but it gives you a sense of how rapidly Scripture has permeated the digital world.
Take advantage of this in your worship service.
Provide free Wi-Fi. Share sermon notes online. Guide new app users to become better acquainted with sharing their faith using technology. With over 5 billion copies sold, the Bible is still the world’s most-read book. How it will be read in the future is already rapidly changing. Don’t be left out!