NYT front page discovers the most popular Bible app

Hey, guess what? If you want to read the Bible online, there’s an app for that.

I know this because I saw it on the front page of today’s New York Times.

Sorry, but I couldn’t resist poking a little fun at the Old Gray Lady for discovering an e-trend that’s old news to millions of Bible readers.

The story caught my attention because it’s datelined Edmond, Okla. — my neck of the woods — and involves a church that I’ve written about for The Oklahoman and Religion News Service, including a 2005 feature on the spread of satellite churches.

My teasing aside, the Times story is actually quite informative and interesting.

Let’s start at the top:

EDMOND, Okla. — More than 500 years after Gutenberg, the Bible is having its i-moment.

For millions of readers around the world, a wildly successful free Bible app, YouVersion, is changing how, where and when they read the Bible.

Built by LifeChurch.tv, one of the nation’s largest and most technologically advanced evangelical churches, YouVersion is part of what the church calls its “digital missions.” They include a platform for online church services and prepackaged worship videos that the church distributes free. A digital tithing system and an interactive children’s Bible are in the works.

It’s all part of the church’s aspiration to be a kind of I.T. department for churches everywhere. YouVersion, with over 600 Bible translations in more than 400 languages, is by far the church’s biggest success. The app is nondenominational, including versions embraced by Catholics, Russian Orthodox and Messianic Jews. This month, the app reached 100 million downloads, placing it in the company of technology start-ups like Instagram and Dropbox.

“They have defined what it means to access God’s word on a mobile device,” said Geoff Dennis, an executive vice president of Crossway, one of many Bible publishers — from small presses to global Bible societies to News Corporation’s Thomas Nelson imprint — that have licensed their translations, free, to the church.

Alas, the story sputters in a few places and makes me think that maybe Mollie was right when she joked that the Times should hire someone who has been to Vacation Bible School.

The first sputter:

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