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2 April 2020

YouVersion: reading the Bible together

Dave Nice Dave Nice Church member
Bible in open hand

“How can we encourage each other through the week?”  That’s a question that our home group has recently been mulling over.

For a while we tried keeping up regular email contact through the week, but that died out after a couple of weeks. We’ve used small prayer triplets or accountability groups, which are great, but haven’t worked for everyone. An answer that’s stuck for our group for nearly two years now is the YouVersion Bible plans. This has become particularly precious during these strange times of social distancing and self-isolation.

Bible plans?

If you’ve got a smartphone, you probably have a Bible app on it. That Bible app is quite likely “The Bible App”, created by YouVersion. What you might not know is that there are hundreds of Bible plans, created both by YouVersion and other organisations, that are available within the app to help you with a daily rhythm of reading the Bible and digging into God’s word.

In fact, as well as working through a plan on your own, you’re able to keep track of friends within The Bible App and invite them to join you working through a plan. If you use the plans in this way, you each get prompted to answer the question, “Based on today’s reading, what is one thing God is saying to you?”, and can see, and interact with, each others’ answers.

Fortunately, the experience isn’t limited to those who enjoy prodding at their smartphone - you can install the app on a tablet or equally read the Bible and follow the plans from a web browser. To follow a plan in a group you will need to sign up for an account and become friends in the app with your fellow Bible readers.

Smartphones © Adam Fagen CC-BY-NC-SA-2.0

Are they any good?

If you’ve read this far, you’re probably wondering how our group benefits from using the plans. The first thing is to note that it doesn’t suit everyone - and all the time. Some people are part of every plan, others dip in and out as they can manage. Some of the plans are brilliant - really insightful with small chunks of the Bible to take into the day. Some of the plans are less good (although to some extent that’s down to individual preferences!).

What we have found is that:

  • The plans are generally good, and using your phone means you can do them whenever you have a few minutes free
  • Seeing other people’s comments helps put an angle on the material that you might not have picked up on
  • Having other people involved lends just enough peer pressure to help you keep going on the days when you’re strapped for time
  • Picking plans that last a week or two is long enough that they have some flow, but short enough that if people drop out there’s another plan coming soon

How do I do this?

  • Get the app. Search for “youversion Bible” on the Android or iOS stores - it’s published by Life Church. Alternatively, use it from your browser at https://www.bible.com/
  • Sign into the app, creating an account if you don’t already have one. Use the friends icon (two outline people) in the top right of the app or webpage to find some people you know in real life.
  • Find a plan by clicking the “Plans” button - search for a plan and then click “Start this plan”. You get prompted “By myself” or “With friends”. You can do the plans on your own, but they’re more engaging with friends!
  • Invite friends to the plan - once you start the plan “With friends” you’ll see a list of your friends and can text or email people the “Anyone with a link can join” link.

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