“The Bible in a Year (with Fr. Mike Schmitz)” podcast has taken the top spot in Apple’s All Podcasts list, beating out news, commentary and other mainstream podcasts.
The Bible study podcast, run by the Catholic group Ascension Presents, landed at No. 1 in the United States, becoming the most popular podcast for Apple users at the start of this year.
Podcast host Friar Mike Schmitz, is a well-known Catholic priest who's in charge of the young adult ministry in the Diocese of Duluth, Minnesota. Listeners of the 25-minute podcast can hear the minister read Scripture and then share his own theological and historical context of the teachings.
“The Bible in a Year” podcast began in 2020 with three episodes but officially kicked off in 2021. Apple users have already explored the first few chapters of Genesis and as well as some passages in Psalms and chapters in Job and Proverbs.
The faith-based podcast also beat out The New York Times' podcast "The Daily" which landed at No. 2, along with popular political commentator Ben Shapiro and "The Joe Rogan Experience."
Another Bible-based podcast by D-Group(a discipleship group), landed at No. 33 on the same list of most popular podcasts. Titled "The Bible Recap" this listening experience primarily consists of summaries of Scripture rather than reading the Scripture text itself. This podcast is only six minutes in length.
"So many of us are hungry for more than the news, for rest within a world fraught with division, National Review reporter Alexandra Desanctis said of the reason people are tuning in to the Bible podcast. “People long for clarity beyond the sound bites, for a reality that is meaningful and soul-filling, for an answer to the ache we feel for peace and stability amidst suffering and turmoil."
In 2020, searches on the popular YouVersion Bible app increased by 80%, to nearly 600 million.
A report released by the app revealed that Isaiah 41:10 was the verse that was bookmarked, highlighted and shared the most.
“Don’t be afraid, for I am with you. Don’t be discouraged, for I am your God. I will strengthen you and help you. I will hold you up with my victorious right hand,” the scripture reads.
Some 43.6 billion Bible chapters were read and 7.5 billion audio chapters played, YouVersion said, revealing that it “saw its highest levels of global Bible engagement in app history.”
The increase of Bible reading and faith-based podcast listening is linked to the uncertainty in the world.
“This has been a challenging year with many people facing devastating loss, loneliness, and fear,” said YouVersion founder Bobby Gruenewald in a statement. “While 2020 is a year so many say they’d like to forget, we see it as a year to remember how God used the Bible App to help so many people who are searching for answers. Through every hardship, people continue to seek God and turn to the Bible for strength, peace, and hope.”