Lysa TerKeurst, bestselling author and Proverbs 31 Ministries president, wants her First 5 app to get Christians into the habit of reaching for the Word before giving the world their full attention — and it seems many women are eager to do just that.
"When social media and email are the first things we look at in the morning, our hearts get set on busyness and wrapped up in the shouts of the world. I want to equip women to truly put God first — to truly give Him the first moments of their day — through this app," TerKeurst said in a statement shared with The Christian Post.
The First 5 app triggered more than 100,000 downloads within the first two days of it being made available and "hit (No. 2) in the Lifestyle app category in the Apple store," according to a representative for TerKeurst's nonprofit women-focused Proverbs 31 Ministries and Crowd Hub, the California tech firm that helped bring the free devotional app to life. CP was informed that First 5, available since July 20, had been downloaded more than 200,000 times as of Monday afternoon.
The Proverbs 31 Ministries app takes readers through the entire Bible, beginning with the book of John. "From there, we'll go through Genesis and as we study together, we'll unpack each book using one verse per chapter, per day. So, instead of your verse of the day being random, you'll start to sense real progress in your understanding of the Bible by using First 5 for just 5 minutes each morning," the app promises in the "Welcome to First 5!" message on its news screen.
When users open up the First 5 app (available via both Google Play and the iTunes store), they are greeted with a message tied to the day's devotional theme written by TerKeurst, or another member of the writing team.
On Monday, the day of the app's premiere Bible study, the First five message was "Jesus Thought of You," which was centered on the first chapter of the Gospel of John and also referred to verses from Genesis 1. The devotional links Jesus being "with God in the beginning" of creation to God's "intentionality" and "purpose ... woven into every created thing." The apparent takeaway: God has a purpose for everyone.
When users get to the end of the brief devotional, they are then prompted to "Go deeper with today's First 5 by writing in your Study of John Experience Guide." If users do not have one, they can click on a link that takes them to the Proverbs 31 Ministries book store where The Book of John Experience Guide can be purchased for $13.
Users are also prompted to say a brief prayer in alignment with the day's devotional message and to click on "read more" to navigate to a "More Moments" brief commentary about the book of the Bible being discussed, in this case, the Gospel of John.
Interaction in the app happens if users choose to leave a comment, and others "like" it by clicking a heart-shaped icon. When The Christian Post scrolled through the comments on the premiere Bible study, there were responses from about two dozen women, including a recent one from TerKeurst. Readers can also engage each other, and make friends, by exchanging messages after establishing a user account. The "My Moment" question — currently, "What is one way God wants to use you today?" — prompts users to jot down private notes about the day's entry.
The First 5 app runs smoothly for the most part, although load time can lag (perhaps depending on the user's phone type and/or its software platform). Some users might also find the alarmed notification slightly annoying as the buttons to choose to either "snooze" or "cancel" the alarm were very slow to appear when CP tested that function several times. Other users who have downloaded the app also noted functionality issues with the alarm feature.
The app appears to be much more popular with Apple users than those using Android devices, and overall, early reviews for First 5 were mostly positive.
Phone users who have the habit of reaching for their devices first thing in the morning might find First 5 to be just the thing they need to get their mind centered on God before rushing into the day's activities.
An added bonus? — First 5 might help increase the number of Christians who spend time engaging with the Bible, although a majority of readers prefer the printed Word, according to a 2015 study by Barna Group and the American Bible Society. The 2015 study found that 76 percent of readers prefer printed Bibles versus the 11 percent that access Scripture via a smartphone or app. However, those numbers do not necessarily translate into actual reading of the Bible, especially for churchgoers.
A study from LifeWay Research found that only 45 percent of those who regularly attend church read the Bible more than once a week, while nearly 1 in 5 churchgoers said they just don't read the Bible at all, according to a June article by Ed Stetzer, a church planter, researcher and missiologist.
Learn more about First 5 by watching the video below: