The Bible can seem like a pretty daunting thing to get into. It's a rather large book1, and it comes in so many translations. Which should you choose? Dost thou goeth with ye olde King James? Or something a bit more modern like the NIV? The options are endless.
I happen to like to read a few different versions to get a better idea of what is being said. I find the different viewpoints to be helpful in forming a more complete picture. The problem here is that I don't really care for having a few copies of the same book sprawled out. And I certainly don't enjoy carrying around a large book.2
That is why I have been a longtime fan of YouVersion's Bible App. It collects a metric ton of different translations into one app on your iPhone, iPod touch, iPad, or Android device. And my iPhone is a lot lighter than a book.
Today YouVersion introduced Bible App 5. It has a great new interface across the board, and even though the same interface is shared across iOS and Android, it looks right at home on iOS 7.
The best part is that the Bible App is taking the focus of the app from being solely on you and branching it out to being part of your own community of friends. The folks you add as friends can now comment and like on your notes, highlights, and bookmarks (you can choose to make any of those public or private). Here is what YouVersion says about the new focus of the app:
Up until now, the Bible App was designed mostly around you as an individual—you reading or listening to your Bible, adding your personal notes and your insights. While many people have told us that this kind of personal experience has helped them grow closer to God through His Word, we think there’s still more we can do—a lot more. The all-new Bible App 5 transforms the way you experience Scripture…from “me” to “we.”
Historically, people were only able to experience the Bible in community. Before the printing press, very few people had personal copies of the Bible. But movable type changed everything. For the first time in history, anyone who could read could experience God’s Word with their very own printed Bible. In more recent times, audio Bibles in several languages invite even more people to enjoy God’s Word by listening—even if they can’t read.
Bible App 5 was designed from the ground up to bring the best of all these things together again. It draws the Scriptures back into community, without sacrificing personalized access. You can keep enjoying your own Bible, just as you always have. But now, for the first time, you can also easily experience it within the context of close, trusted friendships.
No matter what your view on the Bible is, it is amazing that a text as old as it is has transcended so many mediums throughout history. From scrolls that were largely shared verbally and copied by scribes to the printing press and to the digital age.
Over the years I have found that the best part of my church is the community. Yes, the worship service and my pastor's sermons are important, but the real growth happens in small groups, with people coming together and sharing their views.
While likes & comments in an app is not a replacement for that in-person community, I think it is a great way to keep your small group connected between Sundays.