September 28th, 2012
09:35 AM ET

Need a bit of Bible? There’s an app for that

By Jessica Ravitz, CNN

(CNN) - Onlookers might think you're checking stocks, watching clips of "Honey Boo Boo" or reading news out of Libya. But on the subway, in the doctor’s office, under a beach cabana – with the right gadget, God’s word can be with you.

Making the Bible accessible and shareable is what YouVersion’s Bible app is all about. About 300 versions of the Bible can be downloaded for free to smartphones and tablets, allowing people speaking 144 different languages to get their fix of Scripture.

“A lot of people in the U.S. have six or seven Bibles in the house and never use them,” says Bobby Gruenewald, 36, the man behind this mobile Christian mission. “Our goal was to help people engage with the Bible.”

If numbers are any indication, mission accomplished.

The app, also available at Bible.com, has been downloaded 65 million times and counting, Gruenewald says. Users can highlight verses, do searches and read devotionals.

If they see something they want to share, enter social media tools. They can sign up for daily reading plans (9 million have subscribed to this free tool so far), earn badges of recognition for meeting goals and bookmark their virtual good books.

As of Thursday morning, a running tally on Bible.com showed that since the app’s 2008 inception, users have spent more than 31.5 billion – yes, billion – minutes using it to read the Bible.

The same tally showed that by Thursday morning, 620 Bible searches had been completed so far that day in Malaysia, 93 chapters had been listened to in Jordan, and Bible versions or translations had been "switched," or compared, a whopping 6,706 times in South Africa.

Each day, with YouVersion's help, thousands on Twitter share biblical love. “Direct my footsteps according to your word; let no sin rule over me,” Evette Elbrecht typed recently.

“I just finished day 73 of the Come Drink Live 365 Bible reading plan from @YouVersion,” boasted newdave.

The app means that gone are the days when peering down at a phone while in the pews is a no-no.

At a recent Fort Worth, Texas, church service, 31-year-old Bruce Turner marveled at how times have changed. He remembers once spotting a pastor looking at his phone and thinking to himself, "He can't do that in church. He can't do that. And now I look back and think, I am doing that. People are doing that. ... It is common now."

Beyond church, the app comes in handy for Paige Johnston, 22.

"I love the real thing. I love having the real Bible with me," she said. "But you can't necessarily bring it everywhere. My purse is only so big."

Congregants said the app has allowed them to go deeper, feel more connected and better able to apply the Bible's teachings to their lives.

This summer, Appsfire recognized the Bible App, ranking it No. 3 for the iPad and No. 9 for the iPhone in the non-game category.

The success exceeds what Gruenewald, an entrepreneur who once ran a professional wrestling website, ever thought possible. Since 2001, he’s been a pastor, and the force behind technological developments at the Edmond, Oklahoma, headquarters of LifeChurch.tv.

The global Christian church community reaches tens of thousands of people each weekend by way of  Church Online and in 15 U.S. locations, primarily in Oklahoma but also elsewhere - including the Fort Worth service CNN visited.

More than 100,000 pastors and church leaders use their free resources, including videos to teach children, graphics and outlines for sermons, Gruenewald said.

Gruenewald came up with the idea of using technology to change Bible engagement in 2006, when blogging was new, as he stood in a security line at Chicago O’Hare International Airport. By the time he got to his gate, he’d registered the domain name of YouVersion.

Early attempts to make inroads had some success. But it wasn’t until the spring of 2008, when Apple invited developers to make apps for the iPhone, that his team really took off. When Apple's app store launched in July 2008, the Bible app was among the first 200 apps offered. Gruenewald said he was hoping they’d get 80,000 downloads by the end of the year. The first weekend, it was downloaded by 83,000 people.

“What was a side project on Friday became someone’s full-time job on Monday,” said Gruenewald, who now has more than 20 full-time employees, as well as several hundred volunteers providing tech support in a multitude of languages.

He and his team are now looking ahead and thinking bigger. They've helped people personalize their Bible experience, but next they want to help them socialize it by building communities and conversations. They also want to find ways to give children, who can't yet read but can benefit from technology, better access to the Bible.

Right now, some 65 million people are using this app to connect with Christian teachings. Gruenewald hopes some day that number will soar to the hundreds of millions.

CNN's Dan Merica contributed to this story.

- CNN Writer/Producer

Filed under: Bible • Christianity • Technology • Trends

soundoff (325 Responses)
  1. Science

    Free speech helps educate the masses................POLITICIANS too !

    Where do morals come from?

    By Kelly Murray, CNN


    Gravity is not up for debate ! ............E = mc2..........(U–Pb).................two math formulas..........that do not lie or sin !!!..........

    BY the way ...................Splat goes a fairy in the sky !...............bye bye tinker bell !

    Einstein's Gravity Theory Passes Toughest Test Yet

    Apr. 25, 2013 — A strange stellar pair nearly 7,000 light-years from Earth has provided physicists with a unique cosmic laboratory for studying the nature of gravity. The extremely strong gravity of a massive neutron star in orbit with a companion white dwarf star puts competing theories of gravity to a test more stringent than any available before


    Hey James Madison................religion has none it looks like.............with the comments on this blog.

    The Big question is ETHICS ! does religion have any ?

    The Ethics of Resurrecting Extinct Species

    Apr. 8, 2013 — At some point, scientists may be able to bring back extinct animals, and perhaps early humans, raising questions of ethics and environmental disruption.


    April 30, 2013 at 4:16 pm | Report abuse |

    May 1, 2013 at 12:42 pm | Report abuse |

    Dinosaur Egg Study Supports Evolutionary Link Between Birds and Dinosaurs: How Troodon Likely Hatched Its Young


    And NO ANGELS the pope KICKED them OFF the TEAM last year !

    From Soup to Cells—the Origin of Life


    the wrong path is Adam and Eve !

    Human Y Chromosome Much Older Than Previously Thought

    Mar. 4, 2013 — The discovery and analysis of an extremely rare African American Y chromosome pushes back the time of the most recent common ancestor for the Y chromosome lineage tree to 338,000 years ago. This time predates the age of the oldest known anatomically modern human fossils.


    No god(s) needed or required to graduate from public schools in the US

    Remember : Adam had to POKE himself hard with his OWN BONE to create Eve.

    No god(s) needed................... Old. DNA works..................also catches crooks !

    Ancient DNA Reveals Europe's Dynamic Genetic History

    Apr. 23, 2013 — Ancient DNA recovered from a series of skeletons in central Germany up to 7,500 years old has been used to reconstruct the first detailed genetic history of modern Europe.


    Ca-nabis and Cannabinoids (PDQ®) – National Cancer Insti-tute


    Mar 21, 2013 – [1,2] These plant-derived compounds may be referred to as phytocannabinoids. ... have a protective effect against the development of certain types of tumors. ... In lung cancer cell lines, CBD upregulated ICAM-1, leading to ...

    Good stuff !

    The fact...............the earth is to old for this nonsemse ! Time to EVOLVE !

    Ancient Earth Crust Stored in Deep Mantle

    Apr. 24, 2013 — Scientists have long believed that lava erupted from certain oceanic volcanoes contains materials from the early Earth's crust. But decisive evidence for this phenomenon has proven elusive. New research from a team including Carnegie's Erik Hauri demonstrates that oceanic volcanic rocks contain samples of recycled crust dating back to the Archean era 2.5 billion years ago. Their work is published in Nature.


    For what...................... ? Make sure to read what the pope said !

    Where do morals come from?

    By Kelly Murray, CNN


    Learning is fun with facts.......................... and facts work when teaching children.

    Atheist Prof. Peter Higgs: Stop calling Higgs boson the ‘God particle’

    Professor Peter Higgs said recently that there is no God and so people should stop referring to the theoretical partial that
    bears his name as the “God particle.”


    Pope praises science, but insists God created world updated Thur October 28, 2010
    Stephen Hawking is wrong, Pope Benedict XVI said Thursday – God did create the universe. The pope didn't actually mention the world-famous scientist, who argues in a book published last month that the laws of physics show there is no need for a supreme... \



    Heaven is 'a fairy story,' scientist Stephen Hawking says updated Tue May 17, 2011
    By Dan Gilgoff, CNN.com Religion Editor The concept of heaven or any kind of afterlife is a "fairy story," famed British scientist Stephen Hawking said in a newspaper interview this week. "I regard the brain as a computer which will stop working when...


    April 7th, 2012

    08:32 PM ET

    The Jesus debate: Man vs. myth


    Make sure to read comments

    April 18, 2013 at 3:10 pm | Report abuse |

    Breaking News

    NASA: Three planets found are some of best candidates so far for habitable worlds outside our solar system.


    NASA: Mars could have supported life

    Star Dust we are


    Holy Hallucinations 35


    The ORIGIN story is bullsh-it...............so is the bible............... nasty !

    From Soup to Cells—the Origin of Life


    Scientists have unearthed the first direct signs of cheesemaking, at a site in Poland that dates back 7,500 years.

    Human Evolution


    BBC. Planet of the Apemen. Battle for Earth 1. Ho-mo Erectus


    BACKFILL on E =mc2.....

    Einstein letter, set for auction, shows scientist challenging idea of God, being 'chosen'

    By Jessica Ravitz, CNN

    Decades before atheist scientist and author Richard Dawkins called God a "delusion," one world-renowned physicist – Albert Einstein – was weighing in on faith matters with his own strong words.

    “The word God is for me nothing more than the expression and product of human weaknesses, the Bible a collection of honorable, but still primitive legends,” Einstein wrote in German in a 1954 letter that will be auctioned on eBay later this month. "No interpretation no matter how subtle can (for me) change this.”


    May 4, 2013 at 6:47 am | Report abuse |

    Cheech & Chong's History of 420


    All cults...........creationists, ID believers and devil cults.................

    The fact...............the earth is to old ...........time to EVOLVE !.

    Ancient Earth Crust Stored in Deep Mantle

    Apr. 24, 2013 — Scientists have long believed that lava erupted from certain oceanic volcanoes contains materials from the early Earth's crust. But decisive evidence for this phenomenon has proven elusive. New research from a team including Carnegie's Erik Hauri demonstrates that oceanic volcanic rocks contain samples of recycled crust dating back to the Archean era 2.5 billion years ago. Their work is published in Nature.


    Dover Trial Transcripts............................................. FACTS.

    Below are the complete transcripts from the Dover Trial. Thanks to our friends at the National Center for Science Education for helping us fill in the missing transcripts.


    Education works for children

    Earth From Space

    Detailed satellite images reveal the web of connections that sustain life on Earth. Aired February 13, 2013 on PBS

    Program Description

    "Earth From Space" is a groundbreaking two-hour special that reveals a spectacular new space-based vision of our planet. Produced in extensive consultation with NASA scientists, NOVA takes data from earth-observing satellites and transforms it into dazzling visual sequences, each one exposing the intricate and surprising web of forces that sustains life on earth. Viewers witness how dust blown from the Sahara fertilizes the Amazon; how a vast submarine "waterfall" off Antarctica helps drive ocean currents around the world; and how the sun's heating up of the southern Atlantic gives birth to a colossally powerful hurricane. From the microscopic world of water molecules vaporizing over the ocean to the magnetic field that is bigger than Earth itself, the show reveals the astonishing beauty and complexity of our dynamic planet.


    February 16, 2013 at 7:18 am | Report abuse |


    May 5, 2013 at 8:38 am |
  2. King James Bible Society

    The King James Audio Visual Bible is available for PC and SmartPhones at http://kjavb.com

    October 17, 2012 at 12:04 am |
  3. ElGiblet

    Just wanted to throw this out there for anybody on Windows Phone 7... there's a free app called, 'Bible Reader' that also works offline, so, if your internet is not so good in church, this one still works 🙂 Lord bless!

    October 9, 2012 at 3:36 pm |
    • Kailene Robinson

      Thanks. I have a windows 7 phone.

      November 6, 2012 at 6:34 pm |
  4. Jaimie

    I have tried to read the Bible before - twice - but I simply lost motivation both times. However, once I got my first smartphone - iPhone - I wanted a Bible app because I wanted to easily skim verses at any moment. YouVersion is perfect, and the plans give me a goal. There's always time in the day - even with high school - to read. I wanted to read the Bible, and I'm nearly done; I'm so glad "there's an app for that." 😀

    October 7, 2012 at 10:57 am |

      Good for you, Jaimie! You are a smart person for believing in God. You will go far in life! 🙂

      October 8, 2012 at 11:27 pm |
    • Tom, Tom, the Piper's Son

      Oh, sure. Because so many believers are enormous successes...

      There are only a few who live in homes with wheels, while wearing flip-flops and Daisy Duke shorts.

      October 8, 2012 at 11:31 pm |
  5. Bill W

    CMN ... I applaud you for publishing this article.

    October 7, 2012 at 10:34 am |
  6. Jonno Jones

    I have been using YouVersion Bible since 12 months now, and I use the NIV84 I just couldent be without it. Using it daily is so refreshing – Love It.

    The book of John 3:16 sums up the Bible...

    For God so loved the World that he gave his one and only Son, that whoever believes in him shall not perish but have eternal life.

    I love you... YouVersion.
    Jonno 🙂

    October 7, 2012 at 9:43 am |
    • N.Eman

      i am glad there is YOU VISION and the e bible. the predictions of CHRIST are coming to be,
      to read in the bible gives me a sens of being,
      God Bless the Workers behind this project,

      October 14, 2012 at 11:04 am |
  7. Atheism is not healthy for children and other living things

    Prayer changes things

    October 2, 2012 at 4:34 am |
    • bob

      get a life dude, your the proof it make people less intelegent

      October 8, 2012 at 7:53 pm |
  8. I don't think so

    Also available:

    Snow White and the 7 Dwarfs
    Little Red Riding Hood
    The Night Before Christmas

    October 1, 2012 at 2:14 pm |

      As the Bible would you>>>>you are a FOOL.

      October 8, 2012 at 11:30 pm |
    • sam stone

      i believe: and you are a snivelling, grovelling slave. back on your knees, b1tch

      October 9, 2012 at 8:28 am |
  9. Good News

    Need a real bit of Bible
    that will save you forever?
    Here it is:
    You have never seen and will never see again anything like this
    till the Day of Resurrection:


    September 30, 2012 at 11:54 am |
    • sally

      If the 19 harvest has a lot of fiber and whole grain, I might try it out, otherwise I'll just stick with Yoga bread or the stuff from Whole Foods.

      September 30, 2012 at 9:42 pm |
    • sam stone

      Only slaves need to be saved, Good News. Now, get back on your knees

      October 1, 2012 at 3:00 pm |
  10. Sony Bozo & Chair

    GReat. Now you can cherry pick any verse from the bibo to justify you action right then & there 😉

    September 29, 2012 at 6:55 pm |
    • niknak

      That is what I was thinking too.
      Reminds me of the Sci Fi movie THX2180 (I may have the numbers wrong), where god was just a recorded video in a booth and would just repeat what the people who watched it wanted to hear.
      I guess the creators of the app thought that everyone else was making money off the stupid, then why not us too.

      September 29, 2012 at 7:05 pm |
    • John Bunyan

      I'm supposed to cherry pick verses in the Bible. If I were sacrificing doves and animals like in Leviticus, I wouldn't really be trusting Christ as my saviour now would I?

      September 30, 2012 at 7:21 pm |
  11. Atheism is not healthy for children and other living things

    Prayer changes things .

    September 29, 2012 at 3:46 pm |
    • hal 9001

      I'm sorry, "Atheism is not healthy for children and other living things", but your assertions regarding atheism and prayer are unfounded. The degree to which your assertions may represent truths is 0.0. To help you understand the degree to which your assertions may represent truths, I will access my Idiomatic Expression Equivalency module (IEE). Using my IEE module, the expression that best matches the degree to which your assertions may represent truths is: "TOTAL FAIL".

      I see that you repeat these unfounded statements with high frequency. Perhaps the following book might help you overcome this problem:

      I'm Told I Have Dementia: What You Can Do... Who You Can Turn to...
      by the Alzheimer's Disease Society

      September 29, 2012 at 4:11 pm |
    • Jesus

      Prayer does not; you are such a LIAR. You have NO proof it changes anything! A great example of prayer proven not to work is the Christians in jail because prayer didn't work and their children died. For example: Susan Grady, who relied on prayer to heal her son. Nine-year-old Aaron Grady died and Susan Grady was arrested.

      An article in the Journal of Pediatrics examined the deaths of 172 children from families who relied upon faith healing from 1975 to 1995. They concluded that four out of five ill children, who died under the care of faith healers or being left to prayer only, would most likely have survived if they had received medical care.

      The statistical studies from the nineteenth century and the three CCU studies on prayer are quite consistent with the fact that humanity is wasting a huge amount of time on a procedure that simply doesn’t work. Nonetheless, faith in prayer is so pervasive and deeply rooted, you can be sure believers will continue to devise future studies in a desperate effort to confirm their beliefs!

      October 1, 2012 at 11:22 am |
    • sas

      So true Aethiesim is demonic

      October 8, 2012 at 5:59 am |
  12. HeavenSent

    Happy Birthday Jesus. Born on September 29th, conceived on December 25th. Born 6 months after his cousin John the Baptist was born. Elisabeth, John's mother was Mary, Jesus' mother's cousin.

    September 29, 2012 at 2:39 pm |
    • Len

      Where in the hell do you get the Sept 29 being Jesus' birthday? Wouldn't it have been sometime in the spring, when sheep were still at pasture?

      September 29, 2012 at 8:19 pm |
  13. Good News

    Here, the SON OF MAN has already COME, as JESUS foretold,
    in the beginning of this most critical Third and Last DAY (=MILLENNIUM) now (John 6/27, 40)!
    So please, immediately give ear and listen to him now, and thus clearly and unmistakably see JESUS here again (Luke 13/35 = John 6/40) before it may be too late then (Luke 17/26-35)!


    September 29, 2012 at 2:34 pm |
    • Len

      People have been saying that for 2000 years. So long sitting on the edges of their seats explains why Christians are so uptight. 🙂

      September 29, 2012 at 8:14 pm |
    • sam stone

      Get a head start on Jesus. Do you have tall buildings where you live?

      October 1, 2012 at 3:03 am |
  14. saggyroy

    The website boasts of 300 versions of the bible. Better pick the right one, or you will go to hell. Better yet, read all of them just to be on the safe side.

    September 29, 2012 at 9:09 am |
    • King James Bible Society

      Satan can't take the Holy Bible away, as in the dark ages, so he has flooded the market with counterfeits. If you want the real thing study the King James Audio Visual Bible at http://kjavb.com

      October 17, 2012 at 12:10 am |
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About this blog

The CNN Belief Blog covers the faith angles of the day's biggest stories, from breaking news to politics to entertainment, fostering a global conversation about the role of religion and belief in readers' lives. It's edited by CNN's Daniel Burke with contributions from Eric Marrapodi and CNN's worldwide news gathering team.