In fact, technology is changing the face of Bible study, says associate editor Michael Foust. He cites pastor Dennis Newkirk at Henderson Hills Baptist Church in Edmond, Oklahoma.
“While ‘open your Bibles’ may have been sufficient a decade ago,” writes Foust, “Newkirk also encourages members to ‘open’ their iPhones, iPads, smartphones and tablet computers.
It seems that when it comes to the Bible, there are plenty of “apps for that.”
“At first when the iPhones and iPads came out, people were hesitant to bring those into church because people kind of looked at them like they were text messaging during the service,” Jeff Wilson, communication and innovation pastor at Henderson Hills, told Baptist Press. What Newkirk has done is “he has legitimized what we’re trying to do. It’s given the people the freedom to be able to go through and open that and do that without having any type of negative connotations.”
The monthly apps column will be compiled by Aaron Linne. This month, he’s featuring the “YouVersion” Bible, the “Olive Tree” Bible, the “Read the Bible for Life” Bible reader and the “ESV” Bible.
The “YouVersion” downloads for free and works on iPhone, iPad, Android, Blackberry, Palm web OS and the Windows Phone 7.
Developed by a multi-campus congregation known as LifeChurch.tv, it includes multiple translations and allows users to search the Scriptures by keyword and to bookmark verses. It also allows users to post verses on Twitter or Facebook, and to take notes directly on their device. It also includes several Bible reading plans.
“Olive Tree” has a free version and another that costs 99 cents. It runs on iPhone, iPad, Android and Blackberry. Linne says it advertises itself as a way to “carry your Bible study library with you wherever you go.”
“It is intended for serious Bible study and can be personalized with hundreds of free and paid downloads,” notes Linn. “By itself, the app is mostly a Bible, but with the downloads, a user can study the Bible’s original languages, read commentaries and dictionaries, and view maps.
The “Read the Bible for Life” Bible reader only works on the iPhone and iPad. It’s free and was developed by LifeWay Christian Resources. It works without an Internet connection.
“Users can search the Bible for keywords,” writes Linn. “It also includes suggested plans for reading through the Bible in a year, and a sample of the book Read the Bible for Life by George Guthri, which can be purchased through the application for $9.99.
The “ESV Bible” is free and works on iPhone, iPad and Android. It includes the entire English Standard Version of the Bible and does not require an Internet connection to read. Users can search the Bible, take notes and send verses to friends via Twitter, Facebook and email.
Many churches and Christian ministries have their own apps, notes Foust.
Thomas White, vice president for student services and communications at Southwestern Baptist Theological Seminary in Fort Worth, Texas, has a smartphone and tablet computer and said he uses the free Logos Bible Software app, a popular app that contains not only the Bible but also allows users to sync their previously purchased Logos commentaries and reference books.
“Apps give me information and resources at my fingertips,” Wilson said. “I am always going to have my phone with me.”
Last Christmas, several musicians at a church in Georgia did what may be the first known “special number” for Sunday morning church on their iPads, iPhones and laptops in a video that you can enjoy here: