Bible reading is booming due to a new app which allows people to access it in digital format.
YouVersion Bible App hit 100 million downloads the first Sunday in July. It lets people read verses on their Smart Phones, tablets and computers.
The app, called YouVersion, is built by LifeChurch.tv, a leader in technological advancement among evangelical churches in the U.S.
It is part of what the church calls its "digital missions," The New York Times reported.
The church is connected with the Evangelical Covenant Church, which gives operational freedom to its 850 congregations. It has 50,000 attendees in 16 locations, most of them in Oklahoma.
LifeChurch.tv began in 1996 in Edmond, Oklahoma.
YouVersion was created by Bobby Gruenewald, a former Internet entrepreneur and the church's "innovation" pastor.
He began offering a limited release of YouVersion in 2008 as the first Bible in Apple's App Store.
The website of LifeChurch.tv says that Gruenewald " is passionate about exploring new ideas and finding practical ways to leverage them for the global Church."
The technically savvy pastor oversees the Digerati, Media Design, and Communications teams as well as LifeChurch.tv Open, Network and United operations.
INCREASING BIBLE READING
Gruenewald explained to Anna Kooiman how YouVersion is causing a huge increase in Bible readership.
"For years many people expressed a desire to read the Bible," he said. "Yet, for the last several decades fewer and fewer people are actually reading the Bible.
"They might bring it to church with them on Sunday, but they wouldn't read it throughout the week. Our app is really helping people read the Bible every single day.
"We've made it really easy for it to become a part of their daily lives because it's on a device that they have with them at all times," said Gruenewald.
He said it is also very common for people to use YouVersion in church.
New York Times reporter Ann O'Leary noted that the app is downloaded hundreds of thousands of times on Sundays.
"On Sunday mornings, as pastors around the country preach from iPads while congregations click on Corinthians, YouVersion's servers track more than 600,000 requests every minute," she reported on July 26.
On August 10 downloads surpassed 104,292,200.
OFFERS HUNDREDS OF VERSIONS, AND LANGUAGES
The app makes the Bible available in over 600 versions and over 400 languages.
"It allows you to kind of compare versions, switch between versions, highlight, bookmark--a lot of the things you can do with the printed Bible," Gruenewald said on Kooiman's "Fight for the Faith" segment, a part of Fox's early morning offerings.
He noted that one of the popular functions of YouVersion is to use it to share verses of the Bible on Facebook and Twitter and said that people are sharing verses online more than 200,000 times day.
O'Leary noted that the app has become a platform for evangelical leaders like Rick Warren to reach millions of people with custom reading plans
Billy Graham is the most recent addition.
Gruenewald told Kooiman that the app has hundreds of reading plans and daily devotionals.
"Many of them are topical," he said. "So if you are looking for something on depression are a particular issue you are struggling with or going through, you can go and have like a 14 day reading just dealing with that one topic."
It's very, very popular. We've had like 10 million of those plans completed by people that are just interested in learning about a particular topic."
NOT REPLACING THE BIBLE
Gruenewald said that many people like to use both the paper version of the Bible and the app.
"I tell people it is not replacing the Bible because it is the Bible," he told Kooiman when she asked him if there were critics of the app." It's just in a different format.
"Anytime anything new comes, there are always some people who are a little bit critical of it. But for the most part we have really seen pastors and the Church as a whole really embrace the Bible app as a new tool that's able to take this generation into God's Word."
Gruenewald said that the app is free. It can be obtained at Bible.com/app.