Wow — amazing — the YouVersion Bible app now has more than 100 million downloads worldwide. I’m one of them. I love reading the Bible on my iPhone. And this is a cool story in the New York Times in how a hunger for the Bible is spreading across the world!
Given our recent Epicenter Conference focus on “The Power of the Word” — and messages on people like King Josiah rediscovering the Word of God and being changed by it; and Ezra the Priest reading the Word of God to the people of Israel and the nation being changed by it — I thought you’d like to read about this positive story of how the Lord is using technology to reach people with the message of the Bible.
In the Beginning Was the Word; Now the Word Is on an App
By Amy O’Leary, New York Times, July 26, 2013
(Edmonton, Oklahoma) — More than 500 years after Gutenberg, the Bible is having its i-moment.
For millions of readers around the world, a wildly successful free Bible app, YouVersion, is changing how, where and when they read the Bible.
Built by LifeChurch.tv, one of the nation’s largest and most technologically advanced evangelical churches, YouVersion is part of what the church calls its “digital missions.” They include a platform for online church services and prepackaged worship videos that the church distributes free. A digital tithing system and an interactive children’s Bible are in the works.
It’s all part of the church’s aspiration to be a kind of I.T. department for churches everywhere. YouVersion, with over 600 Bible translations in more than 400 languages, is by far the church’s biggest success. The app is nondenominational, including versions embraced by Catholics, Russian Orthodox and Messianic Jews. This month, the app reached 100 million downloads, placing it in the company of technology start-ups like Instagram and Dropbox.
“They have defined what it means to access God’s word on a mobile device,” said Geoff Dennis, an executive vice president of Crossway, one of many Bible publishers — from small presses to global Bible societies to News Corporation’s Thomas Nelson imprint — that have licensed their translations, free, to the church….
The Gutenberg behind YouVersion is the church’s 36-year-old “innovation pastor,” Bobby Gruenewald, whose training was in business, not religion.
Mr. Gruenewald grew up in Decatur, Ill., in an evangelical church, where as a teenager he started a Christian rap ministry. Later, he moved to Oklahoma to join his sixth-grade crush, now his wife, who left Illinois to study at Southern Nazarene University.
Here at the church’s headquarters, Mr. Gruenewald wears the same tennis shoes, slouchy jeans and T-shirts that suited him as a Christian rapper and small-time entrepreneur who bluffed his way into building Web sites, then ran a Web hosting company out of his dorm room and later sold a pro-wrestling fan Web site for $7 million….
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