Leaders of one of the top 10 largest churches in America announced Tuesday that the Bible app YouVersion has surpassed all expectations and now has 10.7 million users.
YouVersion began as a simple and small dream to make the Bible more accessible and get the younger generation to be more Bible literate. Leaders of Oklahoma-based LifeChurch.tv launched the smartphone app in 2008 with the hope that it would have 60,000 to 80,000 users over the course of a year.
But in three years, YouVersion has exploded to be one of the world's most popular apps with over 10 million users. Every 2.8 seconds someone new installs the app and during that same period 12 other people are using it to read the Bible.
"Could we be a generation that actually turns the curve and says, 'We don't just want to express we love the Bible and think the Bible is something we should read, but we actually want to be a generation that engages the Bible as part of our everyday lives,'" asked Bobby Gruenewald, innovation leader at LifeChurch.tv, in a webcast Tuesday.
Just over the past weekend alone, there were more than 100,000 downloads of the app, the YouVersion team shared.
LifeChurch.tv, known for its innovation and ability to connect with the younger generation, first launched the YouVersion for online users in 2007. The idea was in response to statistics that show that despite the ease of Bible distribution and the many languages it is available in, each generation is becoming less Bible literate. About 20,000 users downloaded the program in the first few months of the online version.
In 2008, the team launched the mobile version for phones and saw the traffic rise. They decided that this is where God is moving and put more resources behind developing YouVersion for smartphones.
The free YouVersion app is now available on nine different platforms and in 20 different languages. The most popular platform by far is the iPhone, but the fastest growing one is the Android. Users can read the Bible in its entirety, search for passages based on certain criteria, and choose reading plans. There are 23 different reading plans readers can choose from.
By this Friday, a note feature will be available on YouVersion.com. And by next week, notes will be available on mobile platforms, starting with the Blackberry. The iPhone will be the last platform with note feature because the approval process takes longer.
Next year, the YouVersion team plans to add audio and video notes to the features available on the app. Notes can be selected to be private or public, and any note can be tweeted or put on Facebook.
"What we see with the app and the number of people talking about it and sharing it with others is we are really seeing what I think is the beginning of a revolution," said Terry Storch, who leads the digerati team at LifeChurch.tv.
Gruenewald noted that some churches use YouVersion during their Sunday services and some Christians now use the app instead of bringing a hard copy of the Bible to church.
The YouVersion team's goal is to have users read 1 billion minutes of the Bible in the month of January 2011 alone. For comparison, they said it took 18 months to reach the first billion minutes.