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Gutenberg to YouVersion

by Marion Van Driel


Move over, Mr. Gutenberg. We have a modern version of the Bible in our own language (make that 1,204 languages) that fits in our jeans pocket. Don’t get me wrong Sir, we still hold you in exceptionally high regard. Your invention of the printing press almost six centuries ago was the catalyst that allowed common people to read scripture for themselves. It is still the opinion of academics today that your innovation was greater than what we know as the Internet – a means of sharing vast amounts of information worldwide in mere seconds. Hard to believe, yes.

Allow me to reveal what has transpired since you printed those first biblical tomes (heavier, by the way, than a hiker’s overnight pack). Incredibly, we’re now able to carry the scriptures in our pocket on a small device called a mobile phone. Undoubtedly, you’d have enjoyed sharing ideas with Alexander Graham Bell – the man responsible for bringing us the telephone 400 years after your first printing press! His evolved invention – a device that would fit in the palm of your hand and is thinner than your little finger – lets us speak with people all over the world, using invisible airwaves. 

But let’s get back to the Bible. After all, you felt it absolutely essential that common people have ready access to God’s most holy word. Today, in the 21st century, we have the entire Bible at our fingertips through an application (app for short) called YouVersion, which we can download (please don’t ask) on all our communication devices, and it’s already been installed on more than 300 million devices. Yes, the world has changed more than you could have imagined. But still Christ’s commission to make disciples of all nations binds us together through the centuries.

The YouVersion team has a mission to engage people with the Bible, in their own language, no matter where they live; they carry the torch that God lit within you. They believe that God’s word has the power to transform lives, and they want to make it easy for people of all ages to read or listen to the Bible in the version they prefer. They even have a special version that kids love!   

There is much I could tell you, but here’s a quick list of what YouVersion offers:

• 1,710 free versions of the Bible

• 1,134 free languages 

• audio version 

• 4,000 reading plans to choose from 

• interactive kids’ version 

• note-taking and bookmarking capability

Besides all of these wonderful features, people can create and share texts using beautiful background images, and invite friends to join them in their study of the Bible online.

As you know, Mr. Gutenberg, there are always hearts, souls and minds behind innovations. In this case, a church from Oklahoma, Life.Church, partners with Bible translators and other organizations to bring God’s word to the world. Their pastor of innovation (what a wonderful role, don’t you think?), Bobby Gruenewald says, “In this digital age, we tend to forget that people have spent decades of their lives, and in some cases sacrificed their own life, to make it possible for people to read the Bible in their own language. Though we’ve come a long way, more than two billion people still don’t have a Bible in their language, so we are dedicated to continuously increasing the number of languages offered through the Bible App to get it into more people’s hands.”

Today, Mr. Gutenberg, we are a global community. People travel from one end of the world to another in a day. For these people, easy access to YouVersion can provide the biblical story and spiritual nourishment any time, night or day. He who began a good work in you, is still completing it today. Thank you, Sir, for being a willing vessel in the Master’s hands.

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