Many are turning to online Bible reading in their search for answers to hard questions or for hope in difficult circumstances.
By Marissa Postell Sullivan
Last year, people continued to turn to Scripture apps in record-setting numbers, consistently engaging with the Bible throughout 2023. According to a study by Lifeway Research, nearly 2 in 3 Protestant churchgoers (65%) intentionally spend time alone with God at least daily. And 17% of churchgoers say they are alone with God several times a week.
Churchgoers spend their alone time with God in a variety of ways, but if they were going to read something during this time, 63% say they would read from a Bible and 1 in 5 (20%) say they would read Scripture from an app. Recent data from YouVersion reveals people around the world are increasingly looking to mobile apps for their Scripture engagement.
“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;Isaiah 41:10, CSB
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.
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).
Searching for answers
The 2023 Verse of the Year corresponds with felt needs and the needs identified in the year’s top in-app searches. People around the world consistently turned to the Bible for answers about love, peace, hope, healing, and anxiety. And a 2021 Lifeway Research study found 4 in 10 U.S. adults (41%) say fear is the feeling they most seek to avoid.
“From a global perspective, we’ve all been through a lot in the last few years, so it’s no surprise people continue to feel drawn to the hope and peace promised in Isaiah 41:10,” said Gruenewald. “Even though there’s a lot of fear and anxiety felt around the world, we believe faith is the answer, and it’s encouraging to see people continue to cling to God and His Word in their greatest moments of need.”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 in 2023. Click To Tweet
Many are searching for answers to hard questions or for hope in difficult circumstances. And many are turning to the Bible for answers. This year, your church has the significant opportunity to disciple those searching for answers and share the good news of the gospel with them.
At the beginning of the COVID-19 pandemic in 2020, YouVersion experienced a rapid increase in Bible engagement, rising by 10% in March 2020. And Bible engagement continued to rise in the following weeks and years. Last year, YouVersion saw online Bible reading surge with daily Bible use growing by 20%, representing around 12 million people engaging in the Bible each day.
In 2023, Bible readers opened YouVersion’s Bible App 6.7 billion times, created 2.8 billion highlights, bookmarks, and notes, shared 566 million Bible verses, and conducted 473 million in-app searches.
For permission to republish this article, contact Marissa Postell Sullivan.
Marissa Postell Sullivan
Marissa is the managing editor for LifewayResearch.com.