SAN DIEGO, August 14, 2013 – The Bible is the world’s best selling book, with an astonishing six billion copies sold since its first official print publication date.
So perhaps it shouldn’t be a huge surprise that one of the best selling smartphone apps of all time is also based on the Good Book. The Bible App by YouVersion has made history, reaching 100 million downloads. It’s been among the top 100 free apps for three consecutive years according to Apple’s iTunes charts.
The Bible App was among the first 200 apps to launch on iTunes. Today it’s available for virtually every mobile device.
Every second, 66,000 people are using this app. Sixty percent of users say they access the Bible app during church services. The top verse shared through the app is Isaiah 53:5, “ But he was wounded for our transgressions, he was bruised for our iniquities: the chastisement of our peace was upon him; and with his stripes we are healed.” The most popular and most accessed verse overall is Psalms 37:4, “Delight yourself in the Lord and He will give you the desires of your heart.”
Pastor Bobby Gruenewald of LifeChurch.TV in Oklahoma is the person who came up with the idea of using technology to make the Bible more accessible via smartphones, and then tables like the iPad. “This is not a story about an app as much as one about a global mission to share the Bible—from publishers and Bible societies offering 500-plus versions of the Bible for free in 300 languages to the assistance of hundreds of committed volunteers that enable our staff members to provide world-class customer service for an app at no charge,” said Pastor Gruenewald.
Pastor Gruenewald initially hoped for 80,000 downloads in the first six months, a number surpassed during the first weekend the Bible App was released.
“Never before could you compare multiple translations of the Bible in an instant. In the past, it would have taken an entire room of Bibles and weeks, if not months, to do so,” said Pastor Gruenewald. “Now when you don’t understand a particular phrasing, it’s easy to check out another translation for clarity.”
Among the app’s fans are NFL players on the Super Bowl champion Baltimore Ravens such as Bobbie Williams and Sam Koch, and San Francisco 49ers players Brian Jennings and Kyle Williams, and the longtime chaplain of the Indianapolis Colts, Ken Johnson. Bobbie Williams said, “It keeps me connected when I’m on the go. Instead of carrying my old Bible which is a little big, you know when I’m on the bus ride from the plane, or going to the plane, I pull up the Daily Verse, or you can bookmark verses in there.“
The company’s tracking learned that people love to share Bible verses. In 2012 alone, there were more than 31 million shares of Bible verses via Twitter, Facebook, email, and text. Chaplain Johnson sends one out to 250 players each day.
“Building on this research, we’re currently launching a new social feature of the Bible App that will advance the Bible-reading experience in the context of trusted relationships and community,” according to Pastor Gruenewald.
The new feature allows readers to form a group of close friends and interact with them about the Bible—learn from what their friends are learning, discover new insights, and explore what passages mean in conversation with people they are close to.
Among the new initiatives planned now that the Bible app has hit the 100 million milestone:
- Adding the New American Bible Revised Edition (NABRE), for the 77 million Catholics in the U.S. alone, one of the most popular Catholic versions of the Bible and approved by the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops. In recent years, the Vatican has encouraged greater church efforts to teach Catholics about the Bible, equipping them to read it and pray with it more. Archbishops Charles J. Chaput of Philadelphia and Cardinal Francis George of Chicago joined others in the Catholic community applauding the move.
- Plans are in development for a new Bible app for children ages 4 to 10 that includes an interactive experience with games and stories.
- A new one-year devotional from the Rev. Billy Graham, which joins hundreds of other reading plans already available for tackling everything from relationship woes to life.
There are even plans for reading the entire Bible—another goal many people have achieved thanks to the accessibility of the app.
Gayle Lynn Falkenthal, APR, is a veteran, award-winning print and broadcast journalist. She is President/Owner of the Falcon Valley Group in San Diego, California.
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