When you see people staring down at their cell phones in church these days, turns out they’re as likely to be reading the Good Book as reading email. Maybe even more likely considering that e-Bibles optimized for mobile devices are now boasting millions of downloads. The glow of screens, once a no-no in the pews, has come to be a regular sight at Sunday services as more and more church leaders and churchgoers embrace technology designed to bolster faith and make the Word of God more accessible.
Churches themselves are capitalizing on their congregations’ tendency toward connectivity by having custom mobile apps created to highlight devotions, events, online giving opportunities and blogs written by the church leadership. According to a story on Time Magazine’s website, a Catholic bishop even publicly approved a confession app – though absolution still requires the presence of a priest.
What do apps for your cell phone or tablet have that your old dog-eared copy of the Bible doesn’t? Why would you use a bible study app? In an interview with Jewish World Review, Christian Diane Werle offered up one possible answer: “It’s nice to have a portable and easily accessible copy with you when you’re out and about. You never know when you might get into a discussion with a friend about what it does or doesn’t say, or run into someone who has questions.” But it’s not just mobile Bibles that have put religious apps on the road to becoming a $25 billion industry. Developers are creating apps that encourage Bible study and reflection, sharing beliefs with friends and incorporating religion into our day to day lives.
Here are six must-have apps for church goers – download them and you’ll find that your faith is always close at hand.
You can find this ad-free mobile Bible app on 100 million devices thanks to the hundreds of translations and languages it brings to cell phones and tablets. Reading plans plus the ability to highlight, annotate and bookmark your favorite passages mean YouVersion is essentially the dog-eared Bible of the modern Christian.
Designed for deep Bible study and social sharing, this app boasts four million users. The ESV and KJV Bibles included with the app are just the beginning, however. Use it to connect with thousands of resources like commentaries by notable Bible scholars, maps of locations mentioned in Scripture, Biblical dictionaries, Bible study plans and more – even when your device is in airplane mode. Or build a library of Bible translations by adding optional texts like the NASB, The Message, the New Living Translation or original language texts like the Hebrew Old Testament and Greek New Testament.
3) Cross Touch
The Stations of the Cross have become one of the most beloved devotions among Roman Catholics and devotees of many other Christian denominations have embraced this meditation. The Cross Touch app walks users through Lord Jesus’ sufferings and His death as a personal pilgrimage of prayer. More than just a guide, it replicates the 14 Stations found in churches and chapels around the world so you can make your own virtual pilgrimage whenever you’re called on by the Spirit to do so.
Distractions can make finding time for Scripture difficult, but this app puts a daily affirmation front and center on your cell phone or tablet to remind you to make Jesus part of your day to day. A widget on your home screen shows a new Bible verse (chosen from the ESV or modern-English translation) each day and clicking on the widget takes you to an expanded view so you can read the whole chapter. When you find the day’s verse particularly meaningful you can also use the app to share it with a loved one by text or email.
Developed in collaboration with Westminster Seminary California, this app gives you access to the most sacred and historically important Christian creeds along with complete scriptural references no matter where you are. Read the Apostles’ Creed, the Nicene Creed and the Athanasian Creed, as well as the Belgic Confession, the Heidelberg Catechism, the Canons of Dort and the Westminster Standards, or delve even more deeply into the richness of Christian history by studying the original texts from which these principles were derived.
Though many of us treat spirituality as serious business, faith can be fun. Bible Quiz 3D is an educational app for the whole family that helps you learn about God’s Word and the Holy Book through interactive game play. Up to four players go on a competitive missionary journey to help priests around the world baptize unbelievers by answering trivia questions about not only the Bible, but also religious art and Biblical history. It’s a great way to introduce children to areas of Scripture they haven’t yet encountered in Sunday School.