OKLAHOMA CITY (BP) — YouVersion Bible app announced its most popular verse of 2019, Philippians 4:6: “Don’t worry about anything; instead, pray about everything. Tell God what you need, and thank him for all he has done.”
The globally influential app has seen significant increase in downloads, engagement and consistent interaction from users new and returning around the world.
The overall increase of app use from the previous year is 30 percent, according to a release.
The statement also notes that 5.6 billion chapters of the Bible were listened to, 35.6 billion chapters read, 1.1 billion days were spent in Bible plans, two billion highlights, bookmarks and notes were made and more than 478 million verses were shared throughout 2019.
Ronnie Floyd, president and chief executive officer of the Southern Baptist Convention Executive Committee, said reading the Bible consistently is vital for spiritual health.
“I am confident the Bible is God’s Word for us today and people are always seeking help in how to live their lives,” Floyd said. “Reading the Bible is something that any person can do and all persons should do. When you read the Bible, God meets you in your life personally. Unquestionably, one of the most powerful and impactful disciplines I have ever practiced daily is reading through the Bible annually. When a Christian reads the Bible daily, their life will change continually.”
Floyd said the statistics presented by YouVersion may be surprising to some, but because of how important Bible reading is to individual growth, the time invested in the Bible through the app is only natural when individuals are seeking to engage with God’s Word.
In all 11 years since the app’s creation, it has been downloaded more than 400 million times.
Global outreach outside the United States has grown tremendously with the app now offering more than 2,000 versions and more than 1,350 languages.
The app has been downloaded in every country on earth.
Algeria saw the largest engagement increase, finishing the year at 261 percent growth.
Another prominent verse shared consistently was Matthew 6:33: “But seek first the kingdom of God and his righteousness and all these things will be added to you.”
This verse was the most shared in Venezuela, Mexico, Ecuador, Costa Rica, Argentina, Spain, Thailand and Vietnam.
Trevin Wax, senior vice president of theology and communications at LifeWay, said the commonality between countries and their most popular verse raises a lot of questions about the specific app usage in each individual country.
Socioeconomic status, church attendance history and denominational background could potentially play a role in the Bible app usage throughout the year, Wax said.
“It raises additional questions that make you wonder about the different contexts,” Wax said. “It is fascinating to see so many different countries gravitating toward the same verses.”
The cultural situations may be vastly different, but the inclination to share verses that call individuals to point their minds above, to God, is a commonality.
“People that are sharing Bible verses in YouVersion look like they gravitate towards action verses where it’s something of a daily jolt or a reminder of what it is that we’re all to be about,” Wax said.
Matthew 6:33 is a command from Jesus to seek the kingdom and Philippians 4:6 is a command to be God oriented, to take whatever it is we encounter in our lives to the Lord.
“What’s interesting to me, is how many of these number one verses, regardless of what country they come from, are pointing upward,” Wax said. “They [the verses] are, when someone shares them, making a statement about their [the person’s] own being, to be reoriented to things that are above, not things on the earth.”
“What we are seeing in global engagement is exciting to us because with every verse highlighted, plan day completed, or audio chapter listened to, that’s a person who is being transformed by knowing God more intimately through spending time in the Bible,” said YouVersion founder Bobby Greunewald in a release.
YouVersion also partners with illumiNations to develop Bible translations.
Their goal by 2033 is that 95 percent of the world’s population will have a complete Bible, 99.9 percent will have a complete New Testament and 100 percent will have at least some part of Scripture translated in their native language.
“The importance of the Bible cannot be overstated for the health and life of the Christian church,” Wax said.
In many cases of Bible translation there may not even be a written language, Wax said. The translation of the Bible goes beyond sharing the Gospel to bringing a sense of cohesion to the language itself.
“It’s an honor and a privilege to have God’s Word,” Wax said. Witnessing others receive a Bible for the first time can shake out the complacency some may have toward the Bible.
“We grow familiar with the world-shattering impact of the Gospel,” Wax said.
YouVersion’s goal for future Bible translations should be a reminder of the power of God’s Word and is something we should be very grateful for, Wax said.
Wax noted that the sheer number of app downloads and level of engagement with the Bible through the app during 2019 is encouraging because it shows the level of connection points people are having with Scripture.
However, connection to individual verses is not truly enough for a lifetime of faithful, biblical study, Wax said.
“I think we celebrate this because its people connecting to the Bible,” Wax said. “But on the other hand, we as the church have our work cut out for us in making sure that engagement leads to a fuller immersion in the passages of Scripture that may be more obscure but that are all pointing us to the Gospel and leading to life transformation.”
Tess Schoonhoven is a staff writer for Baptist Press.