Life Church announced on Wednesday, Nov 10, 2021, that its popular Bible app, YouVersion, has been downloaded over 500 million times.
The announcement was made in conjunction with its verse of the day:
“For the Word of God is living and active, sharper than any two-edged sword. it penetrates even to dividing soul and spirit, joints and marrow; it judges the thoughts and attitudes of the heart.” (Hebrews 4:12)
Life Church based in Edmond, OK was founded by Pastor Craig Groeshel, and launched the app in 2008.
In an interview with the Christian Post, Bobby Gruenewald, who was behind the app’s development, said that their goal was to increase the Bible’s availability to people and hopefully increase people’s readership.
But it was a journey.
In 2005, Gruenewald, who is a pastor at Life Church, was standing in a security line at Chicago’s O’Hara airport when he came up with the idea of using technology, such as a website, to promote Bible reading. He also came up with a name, and by the time he was ready to go on his plane, he had registered the domain name, youversion.com.
He approached Pastor Groeshel about the Bible reading website, who immediately agreed with the idea, and they started development of the site. However, they had no idea how to do this, but God provided both the people and expertise to develop the site.
This included receiving permission from Bible publishers to allow their versions to be included on this website. Though most were not interested, one publisher was, and this was all they needed.
However, the website was not proving to be as effective as they desired. But they noticed that the website was very popular on Blackberry phones and when Apple announced that it was setting up an app store for its iPhones, this was the direction they wanted to go.
They weren’t really sure what an app was, but had an 18-year-old boy who was keen to find out.
And on the very day Apple launched its app store in 2008, YouVersion was one of the first 200 free apps available on the site.
Gruenewald said within three days, the app was downloaded over 83,000 times. But more importantly, they noticed that people were regularly using the app.
The influence of the app has broadened worldwide since its initial launch, when it was only available in English and Spanish. Today, it is now available in nearly 1,800 languages.
The Bible app is being used in every country of the world, including those with some of the most repressive regimes such as North Korea and Gruenewald adds he has heard that it is even being used off this world, on the International Space Station.
In a celebration service broadcast on YouTube, Gruenewald said :
“Don’t let anybody tell you that that people don’t read the Bible anymore. Don’t let them tell you that the Bible is somehow less relevant, or that this generation is turning away from the Bible because that is simply not true at all and we have 500 million reasons to tell you why it is not true.“
Why, because on an average day, YouVersion has the equivalent of over one hundred million Bible chapters being read and over 25 million audio chapters being listened too.
In an average second, Gruenewald says:
- 2 Bible apps are downloaded onto a device;
- 228 people open the Bible app;
- 1,171 people download a chapter of Bible text;
- 227 start playing a chapter of audio text;
- 4 people start a daily Bible plan;
- 36 people finish their Bible reading for that day;
- 65 people highlight a passage;
- 15 people start watching a video on the app;
- 1 person adds a prayer request, and five people pray for someone, and
- And while this happening, 135,000 people are already doing one of those activities mentioned above.
And the momentum is building.
In October 2021, YouVersion recorded one billion more chapters of Bible text being read than in the same month in October 2020.
It took 13 years for the app to be downloaded a half-a-billion times, but Gruenewald expects the next target of one billion downloads will happen much quicker.