Christian worship in the smartphone era


The Verge, on the popularity of Christian apps:

The YouVersion Bible app is on 197 million phones and is available in 799 languages. Backed to the tune of $20 million by Oklahoma City-based Life.Church (a megachurch that streams its services online), YouVersion features reading plans, goal-setting abilities, and a built-in social network.

Tamás Kádár, a 26-year-old Hungarian IT consultant living in Sweden, uses YouVersion to follow along in church and “whenever I need to look up something, especially with different translations, in different languages.” Within the app, you can overlay Bible verses on top of nature images and share the resulting meme with your Twitter followers, Facebook friends, or on the app’s home feed. The YouVersion Bible, also comes stocked with hundreds of reading plans, from the devotional to studies for the family to topical studies, like “Find purpose in your work.” These plans often come at the result of partnerships with other apps or publishing houses, which can feel a little sponsored. For instance, the iPhone game Gun Bros once featured YouVersion as an app that players could purchase to gain more in-game currency.

I’m also a YouVersion Bible user. The app is very polished, intuitive, and packed with useful features – on top of all the translations it offers. I’d say the $20 million was put to good use.

Also makes me think of worship service these days. Does your pastor and church leaders encourage social media use during the sermon? Does s/he want to friend you on Facebook and follow you on Twitter or Instagram, and vice versa? There are many churches now that extensively use technology and non-traditional media. Not just having a presence on social networks, but also putting out songs/albums on iTunes (or other online music stores), live streaming worship services, and accepting offerings online or via SMS.

I think it’s great but I’ll admit it’s not for everybody. The most important thing remains: how a church proclaims God’s glory and advances His kingdom, with the latest technology or not.

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