It happened in the last three months or so. Neil Ahlsten didn't even know it was a "thing." Single Christian women having a hard time dealing with their status have been flocking to his new meditation app called Abide to find solace.
"It's been really fascinating, I didn't know that that really was that big of a thing," said Ahlsten, who is CEO and co-founder of Carpenters Code which created Abide. Carpenters Code creates apps that "inspire deeper connection with Christ and community."
His team includes current and former Google staffers who are believers who "really wanted to figure out a way to use our skills and experience in technology to positively impact people's spiritual life and connecting with God," said Ahlsten.
"We started out actually more fellowshipping together, hanging out together and talking about ideas and eventually it was only when we saw how powerful that these audio meditations could be that we decided to move forward in forming a company and actually launching a product," he explained.
Abide resurrects the ancient tradition of Christian meditation that has been around for "thousands of years," said Ahlsten, a former Google business development manager.
"It's something a lot of people find hard to practice and as they do practice we're seeing amazing things in terms of not only connecting with Christ, which one expects, but lower stress, less anxiety, just a lot of emotional and mental health benefits meditating on God's words," he said.
The app has been through several unsuccessful versions in the last few years. Its most recent version, launched in early 2015 with audio-enhanced guided meditative steps, however, is developing a following.
Some 4 million people have consumed content via the app and just under 500,000 people a month are doing regular meditations through it.
While there are other apps that can be used for Christian meditation such as the already popular Bible app, Ahlsten explained that Abide provides a much more simplified and tailored experience.
"I think the way we differentiate ourselves is in having a very focused experience. There is a lot that you can do inside of the Bible [app] and a lot of people find that intimidating .... For us, being able to say we can simplify that process for you by designing content and an experience that is going to really help you meditate on God's word and you have choices within that but we're gonna make the choice real easy so that you don't have to spend your time trying to figure out what to do with it," he said.
"We will give you guided plans that are really simple and focused and meditative in the sense that they are reflective. We're not focused on teaching. This is time where you are actually spending quiet time with God and so that's really elevated," he noted.
When users sign up to use Abide, they have to answer a series of questions that helps the app tailor their experience to fit individual spiritual goals. Content is then suggested from partners like Saddleback Church. Users can also opt to access premium content at a cost.
About 75 percent of the app's users are women, said Ahlsten, and about three months ago he and his team noticed that one of the most popular guided meditations among women has been how to cope with singleness.
"One of our most popular guides over the last three months has been 'Singleness: A Guide for Women.' It's just fascinating because so many women have written into it and said, 'I am single and the church doesn't speak to me well. I don't know how to deal with it,'" Ahlsten said.
"And we're just able to meditate on scripture to say, here's what God says about being a woman and here's women who have been single in the Bible and what their life was like ... So many women have either never found the right man or found the right man and divorced ... so we specifically tailor content to what people expressed they have need for."