Bible studies have long been used by Christians to help people grow in their faith in community. They are a key way for followers of Christ to encourage one another, build one another up, and journey with each other in their walk with God. But what if you can’t meet in person? The COVID-19 pandemic has forced many Bible study groups to stop meeting physically, but that doesn’t mean community around the Bible has to stop.
Jeff Moore, Director of Global Impact for YouVersion, recently joined an Indigitous Ministry from a Distance webinar to talk about creating community around the popular Bible app. The mission of YouVersion is to encourage and challenge people to seek intimacy with God every day. “We want to get people into the Bible inside of community,” Jeff says.
That means they want users to do more than just read or listen to the Bible on their app. To that end, YouVersion uses three features to help people create community around the Bible, encouraging and building up each other.
Plans with friends
Bible plans, of which there are currently more than 15,000 in 70 languages on the app, were originally designed simply to encourage daily reading of the Bible, helping people to develop the habit of spending time in Scripture. However, YouVersion now has the ability for you to go through the Bible plan with other people by using the Plans With Friends feature. When starting a plan, you simply choose to start it with friends, and share it with the people you want to invite to join you. “These can be really beneficial as you are discipling or as you’re leading a small group or a church,” Jeff says.
A new feature in the YouVersion Bible app is the ability to list your prayer requests and share them with others. “It’s been amazing to see the engagement with prayer now around the Bible inside the Bible app,” Jeff says.
The new Events feature isn’t made for distance community per se, but can be adapted that way. The feature is like a digital version of a church bulletin board, where churches or missionary groups can share about events that they are doing. By posting event listings, you can help your audience learn about events, see what you’re doing, share it with others that they want to invite, and more. The feature can be used for more than promoting in-person events, though. “You can use the event-builder admin to put the main points of your sermon, or announcements, or even links to Bible verses or Bible plans,” Jeff says.
Basically anything online can be included in a YouVersion event. One powerful aspect of the YouVersion event is that it is searchable by your church or ministry name as well as by location or your own custom URL, making it easy for your content to be found not only by your existing audience but also by anyone in the area who is searching.
Though the COVID-19 pandemic has been an unprecedented challenge, it is also a time of great opportunity. “People are turning to and sharing God’s Word like never before,” Jeff says. “Together we can be the light that shines into the darkness.”