A few years back, Bobby Gruenewald was standing in a TSA checkpoint in Chicago’s O’Hare International Airport. He, along with the rest of the massive line, was busy filling the time checking their cell phones…then he had an epiphany: in this world of highly personal entertainment in the form of cell phones and PC’s, could there now be an opportunity for an equally personal presentation of the Gospel and Biblical values on the internet? He says, “right there in the airport I had an idea at first for a website. Most people today that know about YouVersion or the Bible app know it as an app for their phone or tablet, they don’t know it was [emphasis added] a website.”
But the website was a total failure.
Gruenewald still possessed the notion, however, that if technology could be leveraged correctly with the Bible, millions upon millions of people could be reached with the Good News.
So, in a last-ditch effort to resurrect his failing website, Gruenewald and his team developed a Bible app for the BlackBerry smartphone…and it was successful:
“It really changed how we personally were engaging in the Bible. We found…in different places throughout the day that we hadn’t engaged with Scripture before, we were very naturally doing it [now].”
So then Gruenewald and LifeChurch.tv launched an app for the iPhone. The Android platform came next. Fast-forward a few years, the app is in its 5th iteration, and the Christian Post reports that the YouVersion ministry has “grown to 30 full-time employees and budgeted for more than $6 million this year…”
The YouVersion Bible app is unique in that it merges a social media feel with the Bible; users can ‘friend’ other users and share Scriptures that are on their heart.
The app has audio-Bible capabilities built in, and Gruenewald says that in the near future, a video visualization of certain parts of Scripture will be added to the app as well. But, Gruenewald says, a social media-esque atmosphere and newer and better capabilities won’t detract from the app’s true purpose:
“The app is not only designed to be only something that you read, but rather something you can read or listen or watch or share Scripture. It’s really designed to integrate the Bible into our lives in a way that fits with today’s culture and the technology we have available.”
The app is popular worldwide, consistently in the Top 100 Free Apps on the Apple App Store…but the app is not just for Christians:
Bobby Gruenewald joined Faith Radio Mornings to talk more about the amazing impact his ministry has had on the landscape of Bible- and faith-based apps:
Bobby Gruenewald oversees the LifeChurch.tv Open, Network and United operations as well as the Communications/Public Relations and Digerati teams. His focus now is completely on LifeChurch.tv and the incredible things that God is doing in lives of people through the ministry each day.