LifeChurch's YouVersion Bible app is the official companion app of the “The Bible,” a 10-part cable television series set to premiere Sunday on the History channel.
Bobby Gruenewald, pastor-innovation leader with the Edmond-based megachurch, said the connection between the TV series and YouVersion was several years in the making and one that he and other LifeChurch leaders are proud of.
Gruenewald, who created the app, said it has been an honor working with the show's executive producers: Mark Burnett, producer of “Survivor,” and his wife, actress Roma Downey, best-known for the TV series “Touched By an Angel.”
In this question-and-answer format, Gruenewald discusses the popular Bible app's connection to the new TV series.
Q: How did YouVersion come to be connected with “The Bible” series?
A: I developed a relationship with Mark Burnett, the producer of “Survivor” and “The Bible” series, and really through that relationship, we talked about how we could help “The Bible” series to be as successful as possible.
We really believe in what he's doing and really feel like it's an incredible visualization of the Bible that we're excited to be able to see. Our purpose is to engage people in God's word — that's what we do with YouVersion and why we created it. So we felt that if there was any way we could help contribute to more people experiencing the Bible in a new way, it would be an important combination. We've been working really hard to incorporate some of the content into our apps and do what we can to get the word out about this great series that is starting Sunday night.
Q: Why did you see this as a prime opportunity for YouVersion to get involved?
A: Part of what we have done with YouVersion is really try to work with new media and really leverage technology to help people engage with the Bible. We feel like what Mark Burnett and Roma Downey are doing with this series is essentially taking the medium of video and really trying to do the exact same thing. It presents the Bible in a whole new way, and potentially a whole new audience will be able to connect with it and really have it come to life, so it fits with what we do ‘missionally.' ... And then we also feel like there will be millions of people watching on television, and we would love to be able to connect them to an app that they can have with them every day of the week. As they become interested in the Bible and maybe experience it in a new way, we think it's sort of natural to want to have it be a part of their everyday lives. We think our app does a great job with that, so that's another reason we felt like it would be great to be connected to the series.
Q: What are some of the YouVersion tools that people can use to connect with the series?
A: Very soon we will have a brand-new major feature in YouVersion that will incorporate video content from “The Bible” series as well as some other video content providers, in addition, like “The Jesus Film” and some other properties. That video content will enable you to watch video footage of different visualizations of Scripture and then read the associated passages that apply to what you just watched. You'll be able to see scenes and footage from “The Bible” series.
Q: How is YouVersion doing?
A: It's doing well. We had about 82 million devices that have installed the Bible app, and it's still growing rapidly. We are excited this year because we feel it's going to be a tremendous year for growth.
Q: Is there anything else you would like to add?
A: The quote that I like to use is I believe that “The Bible” series that Mark and Roma have put together is the greatest visualization of the Bible that has happened in my lifetime.
I feel like in terms of a comprehensive view of the story of the Bible, the larger story, I really feel like it's the greatest thing that I've seen that makes an effort to bring the Bible to life.
Mark has visited Oklahoma City for the first time as part of this relationship with us and really enjoyed his visit. I know that he and Roma are planning on coming back, so it's been exciting to bring a little more of Hollywood out here to Oklahoma City to experience our great town.