Smartphone and tablet technology is prolific. Many of us have these devices in our home, if not right in
our pocket, but don’t realize the computational power that is available and how this tool can be used to
deepen our study of the Bible, grow in our relationship with God, and share the gospel with others. This
is a practical guide to various apps and resources. Every app featured in this post is free to download.
Although each of these apps gives you access to the same Word of God, each one allows you to read,
study, and explore in a different way. Click or tap the picture of each icon to learn more.
“Bible Study with Accordance” (iOS/Mac/PC) – This is my daily reading, studying, all-in-one Bible app. It comes preloaded with the ESV Bible with links to Greek and Hebrew dictionaries. In the app, hold your finger down on a word to search for the definition from the original language. Each Greek or Hebrew word is assigned a “Key Number” by which you can search for all instances of that word in the text. This allows you to, as John Piper says, “dig for gold rather than rake for leaves” (Desiring God, pg. 13) in your study of the scriptures.
“Bible” by LifeChurch.tv (iOS/Android/Blackberry/Windows) – This is the app I use when I need multiple
translations. There are hundreds of translations in hundreds of languages. When I am talking about
scripture with an international student, instead of struggling to find vocabulary we have in common to
make an impromptu translation, I pull out my phone and look up the passage in their language. Another
great feature is built-in reading plans to take you through anything from reading the whole Bible in a
year, to reading passages about Jesus’ birth the twenty-five days before Christmas.
“GLO Bible” (iOS /Mac/PC) – This is the app I use when I am exploring and visualizing the Bible. I am
a very visual learner. Imagine reading through the description of how the land of Canaan was divided
between the twelve tribes of Israel. It describes that the tribe of Simeon was given “Beersheba, Sheba,
Molada, Hazar-shual, Balah…” (Joshua 19:2-3) and the list goes on. I, however, have no idea where
any of these cities are located. GLO helps visualize that by linking from Joshua 19 to a satellite image
of Israel with a colored overlay showing these divisions. GLO includes maps, videos, images, historical
references, and panoramic virtual tools to help bring the stories of the Bible to life.
Ministry Specific Apps
In addition to apps that aid in studying, reading, and exploring the Bible, there are several apps created
specifically for Christian ministry.
“Got Questions?” (iOS/Online) – Produced by Got Questions Ministries, this app exists to answer
questions. If you have questions, they will tell you what they believe the Bible says about them. The
questions cover topics such as God, Humanity, Angels and Demons, Family/Parenting, Life Decisions,
Bible Versions, and more. It also has the option for you to ask your own questions. Each answer is in
the form of an article that includes several Bible references.
“JP Unreached” (iOS/Android) – All of us can agree that there are people in the world who have never
heard the good news of Jesus Christ. What we might not know is who they are, where they live, what are they like, and what percentage follow Jesus. JP Unreached, produced by the Joshua Project, was created as an awareness and prayer guide focused on these people. Each day, a different people group is featured. As I am writing this post, the Dzakhchin people of Mongolia are featured, listing a summary of the people, prayer requests, and a verse to pray over them. Perhaps you could also set a reminder for 10:40am, where this app would remind you to pray for the featured people group, many of whom are within the 10/40 window.
Secular Apps in Ministry
In addition to apps that are created specifically for ministry, by thinking creatively, there are many ways
to use “secular” apps for the building of the kingdom.
“Videos” (Universal) – There are many videos that are produced for outreach purposes, most famously,
The Jesus Film. As effective as that film has been, getting a friend or coworker to sit down and watch a
feature length movie can be a big commitment. That is why the Global Short Film Network exists. They
have created a library of short films with big themes and meanings. Each film is paired with a set of
discussion questions to start a spiritual conversation.
“Evernote” (iOS/Android/Blackberry/Mac/PC/Online) – When it comes to taking notes, this app is the
best I’ve found. Being also a kinesthetic learner (learning through actions), taking notes during anything
helps me remember what I learned. There is an option to set up multiple folders for sermons, personal
Bible studies, and prayer request lists. It also syncs between your devices so the notes you take on your
phone Sunday at church will be available on any other devices.
“Reminders” (Universal) – As part of my role as a disciple and a disciple maker of men, I am responsible
for accountability. Every day, I have a reminder set on my phone to ask specific questions to specific
men. This helps me fulfill the commitments that I have made to those men. It could be used to remind
you to pray for a specific person at a certain time or to encourage a coworker or classmate.
“Kindle” (iOS/Android/Blackberry/Online/Kindle Devices) – While many of us have heard of (and even
own) a Kindle device, there is an incredible volume of free, theological literature available through
Amazon. Look for works such as Fox’s Book of Martyrs, Selected Sermons of Jonathan Edwards, or
Works of Martin Luther with Introductions and Notes (Volume I and II). If you do not own a Kindle
device, you can also read the books on any computer and most smartphones. Check out this site
www.gospelebooks.net for a daily listing of free kindle books.
These are just some of the apps that I use on a regular basis, but hopefully this gets the creative process
started as you think about your context and how to use this tool to reach your community.
In conclusion, I have two things to say. First: All of these apps will never replace the feeling and focus of
holding and reading a real, physical book. Second: Smartphones are black holes, sucking you into their
gravitational pull so you can never again see the light of day or experience freedom from their grip. But
since there is a good chance that you are reading this from your phone, take a few minutes and check
out these apps.