By Bobby Ross Jr. | For Religion News Service
EDMOND, Okla. — A high-tech Bible in your pocket?
In 2018, it’s a reality for hundreds of millions of smartphone users around the world.
But a decade ago, when leaders of Oklahoma-based Life Church developed the popular YouVersion app, the concept was new.
“We just thought, ‘What if the Bible could be among the very first group of apps?’” said Bobby Gruenewald, pastor and innovation leader for the multisite evangelical church, which each week draws roughly 75,000 worshippers to 29 locations in nine states.
“It was profound how simple it was yet how well it connected us to God’s Word in places and environments where we didn’t have physical Bibles,” added Gruenewald, a onetime technology entrepreneur who entered full-time ministry in 2001.
Life Church enlisted a 19-year-old staff member named Sam Soffes — now a San Francisco-based software engineer for Lyft — to create the Bible app in 2008.
When Apple launched its app store 10 years ago this month, YouVersion was one of the first 200 free apps available — and the only Bible app.
“That first weekend, from Thursday to Sunday, we saw 83,000 people install it on their iPhone, and it blew our minds,” Gruenewald said. “We had no idea that was possible.”
That was only the beginning.
Religion News Service is a national wire service whose media partners include The Associated Press, USA Today and the Washington Post.