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Digital devotion: The rise of scripture apps in 2023

In 2023, there was a notable increase in the use of Scripture apps like YouVersion, reflecting a change in the way people engage with the Bible. Lifeway Research found that a significant majority of Protestant churchgoers dedicate time daily for personal devotion, with many preferring to read the Bible, either in print or through apps. The use of digital platforms for reading Scripture, especially apps, has grown considerably. YouVersion, a leader in this space, reported not only a rise in overall usage but also a deeper engagement with the content. The app’s data showed that Isaiah 41:10 was the most interacted verse, indicating its relevance to users during this period.

This trend can be traced back to the onset of the COVID-19 pandemic, which initially sparked a surge in digital Bible engagement. Over the years this interest has grown with millions of users regularly accessing Scripture online. The data from YouVersion in 2023 alone showed billions of app openings and hundreds of millions of verses shared and searched for, underscoring the widespread and sustained appeal of accessing the Bible digitally.

This shift towards digital platforms is not just a momentary phenomenon but seems to be part of a lasting change in how people connect with religious texts. For churches, this represents a significant opportunity to reach and disciple a growing number of individuals who are turning to digital means for spiritual guidance and biblical understanding.

Lifeway reports:

“Throughout this year, we’ve seen our global community engage with Scripture at impressively high rates,” said Bobby Gruenewald, founder and CEO of YouVersion. “From what we’re seeing, this isn’t just a momentary surge but something that will last. We anticipate an even greater level of excitement around Bible engagement in the years to come.”

For the third time since 2020, Isaiah 41:10 earned its spot as YouVersion’s Verse of the Year, reflecting the verse people highlighted, bookmarked, and shared the most.

Do not fear, for I am with you;
do not be afraid, for I am your God.
I will strengthen you; I will help you;
I will hold on to you with my righteous right hand.

Isaiah 41:10, CSB

Of the past four years, 2021 was the unique year, with Matthew 6:33 ranking as the Verse of the Year: “But seek first the kingdom of God and his righteousness, and all these things will be provided for you” (CSB).

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