By Michael Foust
When pastor Dennis Newkirk stands before his congregation at Henderson Hills Baptist Church in Edmond, Okla., to begin a sermon, he gives a nod to technology. While "open your Bibles" may have been sufficient a decade ago, Newkirk also encourages members to "open" their iPhones, iPads, smartphones and tablet computers.
When it comes to the Bible, there's plenty of "apps for that."
"At first when the iPhones and iPads came out, people were hesitant to bring those into church because people kind of looked at them like they were text messaging during the service," Jeff Wilson, communication and innovation pastor at Henderson Hills, told Baptist Press. "What [Newkirk] has done is he has legitimized what we're trying to do. It's given the people the freedom to be able to go through and open that and do that without having any type of negative connotations."
It's an acknowledgement that as technology changes, Christians also are changing the way they study the Bible. There are Christian apps on every smartphone platform, but among the two most popular platforms -- Android and iPhone's iOS -- there are literally hundreds of Bible and Christian-themed apps, helping believers with everything from Scripture memorization to lesson preparation to Bible study to witnessing. Many churches and Christian ministries have their own "apps." Some of the apps allow users to listen to or watch sermons. ("App" is short for "application" and is another word for a software program.)
The most popular Christian app, by far, is the YouVersion Bible app, developed by a multiple-site-campus church known as LifeChurch.tv. The free app -- downloaded more than 13 million times -- offers several translations and allows users easily to post verses directly onto Facebook and Twitter. Users can search for keywords or follow a suggested Bible reading plan. The app also allows churches to upload a pastor's sermon notes -- something that Henderson Hills Baptist is doing. That means Henderson Hills members who have the app can read the biblical text and the sermon notes, all on their smartphone or tablet computer. Users also can write their own notes on the app.
Until next time...share the journey and enjoy the ride!