INTERVIEW: BRIAN RUSSELL – Executive-Diretor of YouVersion’s Bible App
BIBLE APP AND BIBLE APP FOR KIDS
To get acquainted with the Bible App, who’s better than it’s Executive Director to answer our questions? Biblion shows what you need to know to fully use this important tool – for personal use, at church and with children.
We will begin work on Portuguese (European) soon and plan to release that app version in the first half of 2018.
[ ABOUT THE BIBLE APP FOR KIDS ]Brian Russell
The YouVersion Bible App has achieved astounding numbers: 280 Million downloads, more than 1.500 versions, translated into almost 1.100 languages. At a time when people worldwide have adopted the smartphone as their handy device, what can new users expect to find and how can they better explore the content found in this application?
YouVersion is a Christian ministry with the mission of helping people engage with the Bible, which is why the Bible App offers Scripture to readers for free through any smartphone, tablet, or computer. The app helps people with busy, on-the-go lifestyles read the Bible at any time and in any place, making it easy for people to integrate the Bible into their everyday lives.
In the Bible Reader, people can personalize their reading experience with different font options, adjustable text size, and a dark mode perfect for reading at night. Many versions of the Bible are also available for download to use offline in airplane mode or when there’s not a reliable internet connection. Having the Bible in a digital format also allows people to search for keywords or names of biblical figures and easily find the related Bible references.
Just like with a printed Bible, people can Highlight or Bookmark verses and create Notes in the Bible App for reference later – or even share insights with friends. The Bible App allows people to connect with friends and interact with Scripture by experiencing encouragment, conversation, and growth—all around God’s Word.
We continue to improve the search function, both within and outside the app. For example, the YouVersion team has recently developed a Messages plugin and iOS Keyboard that allows users to search for Scripture by emotion within the Messages app and text it to friends.
Besides the Scripture, what other additional resources are being published in YouVersion’s app?
Using keywords,people can easily search through thousands of Bible Plans in various languages. Through these plans, users may engage in daily selections of Scripture paired with devotional, audio, or video content. This feature helps users get into the habit of more consistently reading the Bible.
There is also the option to turn Bible verses into images to share with with friends and family on social media using predesigned artwork or personal photos.
Offered in a limited number of languages are videos, including Lumo, Jesus Film, and Life of Jesus, that show the message of the Bible in action.
More and more churchgoers have adopted a digital version of the Bible as their daily and Sunday service companion. Can it be a useful tool for congregation leaders to interact with church members, pastors and study teachers? And how may one take full advantage of it?
Church leaders can connect directly with their congregations through the Events feature on the Bible App, which serves as an enhanced paperless bulletin and sermon guide. Attenders can follow along during a church service, engage with Scripture, take notes, and even save their own personalized copy for future reference. Church leaders can include message outlines, announcements, links to online giving, and any other important information.
Small groups, teen and youth ministries, even outreach programs can benefit from the Bible App widely usage. For those skeptical leaders, still delaying to embrace digital tools, how can they maximize and smoothly integrate the Bible App features into their activities?
One easy way to try out digital Bible content through the Bible App is to subscribe to the Verse of the Day. A passage of Scripture will be delivered to your device each day at the time you choose and in the Bible version you prefer.
The Bible App also allows people to easily read Scripture in different versions at the same time by using the Compare feature. So if someone is studying in their print Bible and want to see how other versions translate a verse or passage, they can use the Compare feature to pull up the same selection in many different Bible versions. With more than 1,500 versions and 1,000 languages in the Bible App, there are plenty of options!
Leaders can also encourage people to dive further into the Bible by recommending free Reading Plans and Devotionals in the Bible App that will keep the community connecting with Scripture all week long.
A hurdle for Portuguese people to accept Christian literature, either in physical or digital formats, is to read them in Brazilian-Portuguese, specially during one’s formative stages of life. You are doing a great effort to provide as much native-Portuguese content as possible to the kids’ app. What amazing features and content is already available for our children?
The Bible App for Kids was made available in Brazilian-Portuguese in Dec. 2014. At the time, it was the fifth language added to the children’s app in addition to English, Spanish, Chinese, and Korean.
When a child opens the app they now have a between 28 different languages. All audio will play in that language, and any text throughout the app will appear in that language as well. We will begin work on Portuguese (European) soon and plan to release that app version in the first half of 2018.
The children’s content includes 41 of the “big” Bible stories to help kids understand the overall story that the Bible is telling. Kid-friendly navigation helps them find and select whichever story they want, then reads it aloud to them them in a friendly narrative style. Throughout each story, fun, interactive animations keep children engaged, and some stories even include games designed to help them learn, understand, and retain important Bible story concepts.
This is very likely to be the most engaging resource to keep kids following the biblical stories. In a world filled with so many interactive distractions, how can parents and teachers integrate the app’s features into their activities?
The Bible App for Kids has free companion resources in English like coloring pages, activity sheets, 30-minute Bible App for Kids video episodes, and a 400-page companion Bible that makes integrating the app’s features easy for parents and teachers.
There is a two-year companion curriculum available in a limited number of languages for churches worldwide. We also offer Parent Guides (in English) so they’re equipped to reinforce lessons and memory verses at home through the Bible App for Kids. These Parent Guides provide parents with multiple opportunities to experience the Gospel story along with their child using additional activities, verses, and engagement questions.