The new media called apps are a big challenge for spreading the Word of God. Is there a way to reach people through smartphones? There are already plenty of Bible apps containing e.g the whole Bible, Bible verses for every day or even Bible training apps to support memorising Bible texts. I think it’s easy to find Christians to use these apps. But are there new possibilities to reach people by using the special characteristics of the app world?
The use of mobile phones increases daily. Nearly 2 billion people are using smartphones worldwide today and the number is still growing. The app era began when Apple presented the first iPhone in 2007. Now – eight years later – there are more than 1.4 million apps in the iTunes Store and the same amount in the Google Play Store for Android.
What are the challenges?
The greatest market for apps is the world of games. The great challenge will be to find ways to bring the Word of God to people in a playful way. People like to play. Why not use gamification for the Word of God? Bible verses are of course not always playful, but people’s hearts could be opened in a game-like and attractive way.
Smartphones are designed for short and condensed information. A text message or a tweet has 140 to 160 characters. People’s attention spans are small. The challenge for spreading the Bible in the world of apps is elementarisation: finding ways to simplify the biblical message without making it trivial. Being short, but intense. Not to mention that every translation has to be made in a respectful way.
Apps are designed for multimedia and interaction. The challenge for good apps is to make use of all the possibilities of the computers in our pockets. The Word of God can be presented by text, images, audio, video and interaction.
My example: the Play Bible
I tried to address these challenges through an app for children, called “Play Bible”. The app should meet the following requirements:
- It should be a simple game that is easy to play.
- The biblical texts should be short and easy to understand.
- No reading should be necessary to use the app.
I selected 12 stories from the Old and New testaments with between seven and eight characters each and made them interactive in the app. The characters can be moved into the scene just by pulling them around. There is no right or wrong. A special related soundfile is played when the characters are placed in the scene. I wrote the stories in an easy language, concentrating on the essentials. The original biblical texts are often repetitive or redundant. I tried to make the stories straightforward. Before, during or after moving the characters, the children can listen to a professional recording of the story.
The goal of the Play Bible app is to reach children with Bible stories in a playful way. I was involved in the development of another app called “Martin Luthers Abenteuer” (= Martin Luthers adventure). It is a German app for children to learn essential parts of the life and thoughts of the reformer Martin Luther. We tried to apply the same principles mentioned above.
I think we need to be creative and use the power of the app world to spread the Word of God with this media. The Play Bible can be found here: