NASHVILLE – Innovation leader Bobby Gruenewald of LifeChurch.tv, who is co-creator of the highly successful Bible app YouVersion, told those attending the National Religious Broadcasters (NRB) convention that incorporating more video, such as footage from "The Bible" TV series, is the next phase for the application.
Gruenewald spoke with The Christian Post during the first day of the 4-day convention in Nashville on Saturday and said that he is excited to see how the pairing of YouVersion with the content of the 10-week docudrama will help further the Gospel. The series is created by producers Mark Burnett and his wife, Roma Downey,
Our interview with the pastor from LifeChurch.tv is below.
CP: Tell us a little bit about the partnering with "The Bible" TV series.
Gruenewald: We are privileged to be a partner with "The Bible" series and in particular we are the official Bible app of the series. That means that we will be incorporating content from the series into our app. We are trying to encourage all of our community to watch the series because we really feel it's a great visualization of the Bible and really help people engage in God's word. They (producers of "The Bible") are also going to try to help people connect to the app who are watching the series because we think it's a natural outcome of people that are curious and maybe come across the History Channel and see this. They may want to have an app on their phone or their tablet that gives them access to God's word. Our partnership is a mutual promotion, but we're really excited about promoting the series as well as incorporating some content from the series.
CP: How closely do you work with the tech industry, including big companies like Google and Appple?
Gruenewald: For the first few years of the Bible app we really didn't have a lot of [tech company] relationships, especially in Silicon Valley. In some ways that's God showing that it's really something that he's doing and not necessarily just the result of just a bunch of smart people because it's clearly been a work of God. In recent years, and in recent months, we have developed some great relationships with people in Silicon Valley that are Christians who are excited to help us, they use the Bible app every day, and some of them work for Google and some of them work for Apple. So, although we don't have formal relationships with all of those companies, we definitely have relationships with people who are a part of those and they are very, very helpful.
CP: Is 'The Bible' series YouVersion's first venture into video?
Gruenewald: The feature that we are adding to the app is brand new with video. It will incorporate other video content besides "The Bible" video, including the The "Jesus" Film video, but it's our first effort to really help people see the Bible in a visual form. We've had other things like video devotionals and things of that nature, but not a major feature of the app that is designed for people to watch video and then see the related passages.
CP: During your talk this morning at NRB you mentioned that (hopefully) YouVersion will change before it becomes obsolete. Can you elaborate more?
Gruenewald: I think it's important for any of the particular tools that we are using to try to engage people in the Bible to recognize that those will need to change over time. So, if we are simply relying on the way that we engage with people for the last four years then we will probably very much become obsolete. We have to continue to take a look at how people are using their mobile devices, if they are even using their mobile devices or using some other device, or how they are connecting with information – what's the best format for us to make the Bible a part of people's everyday life? We are always evaluating that and that's why we continue to support more phone platforms and always look at what people are doing not only in the U.S., but internationally, and trying to do our best to learn where we should be investing our resources to continue to grow. We want to make sure that we are connecting with people right where they are.
CP: What else do you plan to do in regards to integrating other media?
Gruenewald: We currently have a couple different ways we integrate media. One is through our devotionals and reading plans. We have several Christian music artists, for example, that have done video devotionals and it allows them each day to have something they say on video to the people that follow that reading plan or devotional that's become really popular. What we are doing now with this Bible content is allowing people to experience the visualization of scripture via The Bible series or The "Jesus" Film, and when people are watching this then we have the related scripture that they can go and read after. So, it's more of a video to text type of approach verses a text to video approach and that is something we are really excited to see what God does with it and how people use it.
CP: What do you look forward most in 2013?
Gruenewald: We are definitely looking forward to "The Bible" series and how that does over the next several weeks and how that does over the next several weeks and beyond. We also will have several new features, including features that focus on the ability for you to experience the Bible with other people that you trust within the context of trusted relationships. There will be a lot of features that focus on that type of interaction, that type of engagement. It will not be something that happens all at once. It will be something that happens throughout the year. It will be a progressive set of features in that direction.
CP: Anything else you would like to add?
Gruenewald: Our passion is very simply to engage people in God's word. We are grateful for all the partners we have in that effort. We are also grateful for people like the Christian Post who inform people what our efforts are with our ministry and help connect more people to God's word.