EDMOND, Okla. - What happens when modern technology and the Bible collide? One church in Oklahoma is calling it a revolution that has more people reading the Bible now, than perhaps ever before.
In today's world your cell phone is so much more than just a phone; it's your Internet, your television, your video game. And now... it's even your Bible.
In 2008, the folks at Lifechurch.tv in Edmond, Okla. created a free Bible application called YouVersion that you can download to your iPhone, Blackberry, or mobile device.
Developers had expected around 70 to 80,000 people to sign up in the first year. Instead, they got 80,000 people in the first three days!
"Quickly, we looked at those results and said, 'Okay, God's definitely up to something here,'" Bible app creator Bobby Gruenewald said.
Bible App Revolution
Today, more than 19 million users have downloaded the Bible app to their phone or mobile device. More than 3.7 million have installed within the last 60 days.
Gruenewald said that the Bible App is doing for the Bible what the printing press did 500 years ago.
"I try to not use the word revolution lightly, but with seeing how God has used it over the last few years, I can honestly say we're in the midst of a revolution as it relates to scripture engagement," Gruenewald said.
"And what we found is that if we can just make the Bible free, easy for people to read, and easy for people to share, via Facebook and Twitter and these social networks that are on line, that it's very very viral," he continued. "And people love to engage with the Bible and share it with others."
How It Works
To download the Bible app to your iPhone, users can just go to app store on iTunes or wherever you can download apps.
Type in Bible and you'll see the icon that looks like a Bible.
Once you've downloaded the Bible app, you can jump to any book of the Bible. You can even decide which Bible reading plan you want to participate in.
You can also choose which version of the Bible you like. As of now, there are 50 versions available, from King James to The Message.
People CBN News spoke with who use the YouVersion Bible app say it's completely changed the way they read the Bible.
"Just a few weeks ago I was standing in line at Walmart and I thought this is the perfect opportunity for me to go ahead and do my Bible reading," Sheila Vance said. "So I sat there and read it right there in the Walmart line."
"I'm really big into social media," Bible app user Phillip Singleton said. "So really, YouVersion has become part of my testimony because I'll take my daily reading and I'll share it."
"And I'll get responses from friends or maybe even people I don't know because of a re-tweet or something like that," he said.
"My relationship with God has just been able to come first, I can just carry Him with me, His word is just always with me," another user Stacy Rosete said.
"I was on a reading plan and I'd fallen off, hadn't read it in a couple of days," Jason Marshall explained. "So, I got an email from YouVersion saying, "Come on! let's pick it back up, you can do it, you can even start over if you'd like."
"It's a really cool feature and has really impacted me from a consistency stand-point," he said.
Reversing Bible Illiteracy
Gruenewald said that with the Bible now as close as your phone, he's hopeful this new technology will help reverse the trend of less Bible reading.
"My perspective is not that we can just turn the tide a bit on that trend, but I actually believe it's possible we can have the most Bible engaged generation in history," he said.
Currently, the Bible app is in English, Spanish, and Norwegian.
"No, I'm not Norwegian," the blonde Gruenewald joked. "But we have partners in Norway that helped us who were passionate about bringing it to their language."
"But this year, we are looking at adding eight major languages in addition to those three." he added. "They will also be adding to their small staff to help service the current 19 million Bible app users worldwide."
Engaging with Scripture
Gruenewald said he's humbled by the great success God has given them and excited about the future.
"But now that we've seen what God's done with it, from taking it from its humble beginnings to 19 million people that are actively engaged and reading God's word on a daily basis, our eyes and our faith are set on what could be," the Bible app creator said.
"Could we see a half billion people, could we see a Facebook size generation of people that are engaging with scripture and not just trading photos and posting on each other's walls?" he wondered. "Is that possible to see today? And we really believe it is!"