Apps are all the rage these days as modern technology is evolving at a high rate of speed.
New apps are developed daily making Smartphones, tablets and computers into more of a necessity than a luxury. An app is software to perform specific tasks.
One notable area of popular growth is Bible, devotional and faith based apps.
“Apps are an important resource I use daily,” said Grace Lutheran Church pastor Daniel Smith. “Any tool, such as an app, that has the word of God in it is very useful. Whatever helps to get an individual reading the word of God is extremely beneficial.”
Smith specifically uses the LCMS, Lutheran Church Missouri Synod, app to connect with the local church’s larger church body. He accesses the app routinely every morning when he wakes up to read the daily devotional.
“It takes me about five minutes to read the devotionals and spend time in prayer,” he said. “After that, then I am reading to start my day.”
He does more in depth Bible reading and studying at the church to prepare for Sunday school and church services.
According to Smith, the LCMS app allows users to search for churches, connect with other church goers in addition to the daily devotional along with news within the larger church body.
“If traveling, the user can easily find nearby churches with a few simple clicks. I find it to be very useful,” Smith said.
He noted the Paris congregation still uses “Portals of Prayer” – a quarterly publication from the Missouri Synod. The publication includes devotionals.
“We pass out the booklets here at the church,” said Smith. “Most of our older congregation prefer the booklet form but as the generations change, then we change to reach them in different ways.”
After a quick check of his phone, Smith said a Portals of Prayer app exists and boasts of being the daily devotional app for everyone.
Smith encourages everyone to find a faith-based app and use it daily.
Jeff Stahl, pastor at the Otterbein United Methodist Church in Paris, uses Bible Gateway App on his Smartphone and accesses BibleGateway.com on his laptop computer.
“I use the app for Bible study and to prepare for my sermon,” said Stahl. “I always have two scripture readings usually one from the Old Testament and one from the New Testament. Instead of flipping through the Bible, I print them out, hole punch it and put it in my binder.”
He finds it is easier to have the Sunday lesson in his binder.
Stahl has used the BibleGateway app for several years. He chose it after trying several different ones in Google play and quickly became a fan of the app while searching for commentaries.
He noted the app includes a Bible verse of the day.
“The verse today, with all the school shootings, discussed violence and how to live out the Bible when it seems like God is silent,” said Stahl, adding the app has numerous Bible translations including the newest “Passion Translation,” which prefers to “The New Living Translation.”
He also finds the topic and key word tab useful describing it as having a lot of good Christian knowledge.
Apps, he said, have made it easier for many people to access the Bible and Christian teachings and many people in his congregation use the apps during Bible study.
“Apps make it easier,” said Stahl. “We try to reach as many people as possible about the word of God. You can literally have the whole word of God in your pocket at the click of your fingertips.”
While apps are useful as a great tool, they are not the entire answer.
“No matter how many apps you have, people still need to study the Bible and meditate on God’s word,” he said.
Pastor Gary Thomas of the First Assembly of God Church is another fan the BibleGateway app. He accesses it daily and likes the audio Bible feature.
Other favorite apps include the Blue Letter Bible, with devotionals, study resources and text commentaries; the 3-Minute Retreat for Bible verses, reflective short commentaries and a prayer; and the Reimagining the Examen app boasts of a unique prayer experience tailored to the app users mood and needs.
The Examen app is based on St. Ignatius's 500-year-old prayers. St. Ignatius was a Spanish priest and theologian, who founded the Society of Jesus, Jesuits.
“He was very effective with his discipleship teaching and engaging in personal examination,” Thomas said.
Thomas uses the four apps regularly to serve his different needs and noted the apps are convenient to access.
“The Examen and 3-Minute Retreat are great personal prayer tools, while the BLB and BibleGateway are helpful study tools,” he said. “Instead of reading the Bible, often I will listen to the audio Bible on my app.”
Thomas said the apps serve a great purpose.
“I want people to know there are a lot of new resources available for individuals to grow and understand the scripture themselves rather than rely on someone else to do it for them, and in that people will grow their relationship with God,” said Thomas.
He noted technology and the creation of faith-based apps is not something fear.
“I urge people to not hesitate to use these new resources available to us,” he said. “I think of it as a gift from God because his grace has given us apps and the Bible at our fingertips. No apps will replace the Bible but I would even go so far as to say, the apps – each one of them – leads me back to the Bible.”
Bret Hammond of the Kansas Christian Church uses bustedhalo.com’s mobile app for his cell phone.
According to the website the bustedhalo vision is to bring a more joyful and meaningful experience of Catholicism that positively impacts people’s lives. Another claim is the website aims to bring the joy of the Gospel to all in innovative and creative ways through articles, video, podcasts, radio and social media.