LifeChurch.tv is over 15 years in the making but the tech-saavy leaders of the megachurch have no qualms about giving away their hard-earned innovations for free.
Ever heard of the YouVersion Bible app? LifeChurch created that. A team of developers at the church launched the app, which allows users use their smartphones as a digital Bible, in 2008 and to date have given away over 22 million downloads. LifeChurch pastor and innovation leader Bobby Gruenewald was even named one of Fast Company’s 100 Most Creative People in Business for his work in creating the app.
Craig Groeschel, lead pastor of LifeChurch, told congregants in a sermon earlier this year that he has received offers to monetize the smartphone app but turned them all down. As reported by The Christian Post, he explained that since the first Bible he received was handed out for free by a Gideons evangelist on his college campus, he wanted to pay that gesture forward.
"My Bible is not for sale," said Groeschel.
The multi-site church, based in Edmond, Okla., also gives away most of the resources created at its website and platform for its online services, LifeChurch.tv.
On Monday, leaders at LifeChurch announced the launch of a brand-new version of OPEN.LifeChurch.tv, a resource website featuring the church’s sermons, transcripts, kids materials, student materials, videos and artwork that are available to other churches for use at no cost.
The upgraded website has a new social networking aspect to help churches see how others are using the resources.
Since the church launched its OPEN.LifeChurch.tv site five years ago, over 70,000 church leaders have downloaded more than 2 million resources to use in churches and ministries in 100 countries around the world.
Usually, when churches become big and popular, they partner with publishers to sell their sermons in DVD kits and offer their kid materials in Sunday School packages.
LifeChurch has over 30,000 members, at least 13 campuses, and pastors who not only author insightful books but also create viral apps.
So why just hand out resources for free?
It’s part of the church’s DNA, according to its lead pastor.
“We're passionate about working together to lead people to become fully devoted followers of Christ,” Groeschel explains in a video announcement posted Monday.
This year, LifeChurch also plans to take its sharing to the next level.
In an interview with The Christian Post in April, Groeschel said the church is working on giving its online platform away too.
“We’re actually trying to take our church online platform (which is quite expensive and not easy to do) and make it available for other churches for free,” the Oklahoma pastor told CP.
Groeschel, who writes in his latest book Weird that Christians should take unconventional approaches to live as God intended, has even given away book royalties. He acknowledged to CP that his generosity has those around him confused but indicated that he has no plans to change.
“I’ve got family members who say why would you do that. I’ve got mentors that I respect and love that say we should charge something for the resources because people will value it. You’re criticized if you sell it. You’re criticized if you give it. I’d rather be criticized for giving it.”