The rise of the e-Bible

Steve Kryger

The Bible has never been more accessible.

At least in the West, literacy levels are high, and the growth of cheap publishing and the proliferation of smart phones has had a staggering impact on the number of Bibles people own (or install). For example, the YouVersion app has been downloaded more than 50 million times! (NB: Obviously, having a Bible doesn't mean that you read the Bible. In fact, research suggests that most Christians (80% in fact), don't read the Bible regularly. This is a big challenge for pastors to think through).

The growth in 'platforms' to read the Bible presents some great opportunities. For example, there are some great resources for spending time in the Bible each day, and the Bible Society will be tapping into these with their upcoming '25 words' campaign.

Churches are now facing an interesting question, that was discussed in an article in the USA Today earlier this week. Here's the introduction:

Not too long ago, the sight of someone using an electronic device during a worship service might lead an observer to assume that person was not fully engaged. But not anymore. Reading the Bible used to mean reading a book, but increasingly, people are getting the Word on smartphones, iPads and other electronic devices.

Personally, I love reading the Bible on my iPad. It's easy to read, easy to highlight and bookmark, and easy to take notes. Amidst the benefits though, there's a risk. Because it's not just a Bible, there's always the temptation to exit the Bible, and start checking email, or look at Facebook, or any number of activities I can use the iPad for.

I'm interested to hear from you. Do you use an 'electronic' version of the Bible? What has your experience been - are you able to stay focussed on the Bible, or do you find yourself drifting off to other apps and activities?

There's another cultural challenge too that exists for preachers. As they look out on their congregations and see them on their iPads and other devices, they might be tempted to think "Are people reading the Bible and taking notes, or playing Angry Birds?". Perhaps this is where love comes in - assuming the best of the listeners! Perhaps this is an encouragement to remain engaging?! Either way - it's a new view that preachers will need to get used to. 

But then again, more preachers are preaching from the iPad, so it may be too late for them to complain! 

On the subject of iPads, I've recently written about our approach to setting up an iPad kiosk in church to collect information, sign-ups, etc. Has your church tried this? I'd be interestd to hear of your experiences. 

Feature photo: liewcf