Using Tech for My Bible Study

I never really thought about it much, but I do something that for some who practice my faith, might be alien.  Much like my friend Dan, I use either apps or eBooks to do most of my Bible studies.

Why It’s Better

The app that I use the most when doing my Bible reading on my Android devices is; it’s also available for iOS.  I took to using it because I like to read from different translations.  Sometimes I will read the same verse in three different versions of the Bible, and  I can do this within seconds using a digital setup.  To do this with paper Bibles would take a lot longer, because I would have to find the book in the next translation and then the chapter and verse.  To do this in the Youversion app, it’s a couple taps and I am there.  This really helps me to get multiple perspectives from the different translations easily. If I want to share a verse, it’s another couple taps and it’s on my Facebook and tweeted.

I also use the app during services.  It makes it easy to follow along in the Bible as they do the reading, and it allows me to take notes which are then digitally attached directly to the verse.

Why It’s Not Better, and How to (mostly) Fix It

One problem with using tech while studying the Bible is it’s so easy to just hop on over to Facebook (or other apps) that it can be a distraction.  So if I am trying to stay focused, I may switch to the Kindle versions of the Bible that I have.  While it’s not as convenient, it still lets me easily find the book, chapter and verse that I want to look up.

Since the Kindle doesn’t have apps to notify you of posts on Facebook (or other social media sites), the temptation to be distracted is gone.  If you don’t have a Kindle in addition to your tablet, you could always make sure you are using a local copy on your device.  Youversion makes this easy with several translations available in an offline mode; once you have an offline copy, you can put your device into airplane mode to eliminate data distractions.  Sorry, I can’t do anything to fix your temptation to play Angry Birds in Church!

Why You Shouldn’t Let It Bother You

Technology is an ever changing thing.  At one time, printed Bibles would have been considered tech and alien.  However, now they are considered the standard. So what is considered high-tech and alien today will be commonplace in the near future.

I can imagine one day when you’ll be able to attach memory directly to your brain (or whatever is eventually invented that will make the iPad and other tablets irrelevant), so that you could instantly look up the verse in less than a second. Some will still say that they still prefer the Bible on their 10 year old iPad 7, as it is more “traditional”.  But as my friend Bryan Eley has put it: Technology is a means to an end, not the end itself.

With that said, Happy Easter to those of you who celebrate it!  I hope that your celebrations are joyful and full of family!

Categories: eBooks, Editorials

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6 replies

  1. I bought a Kindle Fire about a month ago. The YouVersion app was one of the first I downloaded. 

    I haven’t used the app during a church service yet, but I expect I will soon. I don’t have to worry about putting it in airplane mode at the church I attend, because there’s no wifi handy in our sanctuary yet and of course, the Fire has no 3G.

    I also like to listen to scripture. YouVersion offers several audio translations.

    For people who primarily just read the bible, it’s the handiest option I’ve seen.

    Now, for a pastor doing sermon preparation or extensive research, a program like PC Study Bible is still the best route. Typing notes on the Kindle Fire is better than a cellphone, but still tedious. It’s too bad there’s no external keyboard option.

    – – – –

    I HAVE already used the Kindle in a church service in another capacity. I needed to play three soundtracks during a funeral where I was also playing piano. I couldn’t be in the sound booth, so I wired in the Kindle, created a playlist and triggered the tracks from the piano bench.

  2. My favorite app for following along in church and taking notes and other studying is Olive Tree Bible reader. The notes sync across my iPhone, iPad, and my Mac…along with my purchased translations and bookmarks. It costs more than the YouVersion but it was worth it for access to my notes across all platforms and the appearnce is just nicer.

    But I do love all the free reading plans the YouVersion has. So I try to use the YouVersion during my daily morning reading and then the Olive Tree version for when I’m in church or at Bible study.

    What is really cool is now I have about 2 years worth of sermon notes in the app (and backed up to Evernote). It is cool to look back how or what I or my pastor thought about a subject in the past. It is neat to go to church and hear today’s sermon and read the notes I took a few years ago on the same verses/topic. There are obviously some core concepts but the approach angle could be different.

    I like typing notes on my iPhone better. It is easier and faster. But there feels like I get less evil eyes when I’m typing on an iPad. Like people see the iPad and know that I’m studying in church, but if they see me on my phone they think I’m texting. So I bring my iPad every Sunday. Except today when we will be at the in-laws and attending their Catholic church. 😉

    • Good stuff Rodney!  The one thing I need to get back into the habit of doing is journaling.

    • I have been using Olive Tree on my Android phone and Nook Tablet as well.  It is great in all the ways  you listed.  I am dying for the Laridian Bible to come out of Alpha let alone Beta testing.  I have used them for years on my Windows Mobile/CE devices and PC and dearly miss my library on that system.  I will be back to them as my daily as soon as they get more stable but the Alpha is promising.

      I haven’t opened a physical Bible in a year (we moved and they are still packed).  Before that I grabbed one once or twice a year at most.  My kids are those annoying 2nd and 4th graders with iPod touches (that they bought) with Laridian Bible on them.  I am not sure they could even flip to the right pages in a paper Bible(oops).  The teachers are humored by that so they don’t freak out when they pull out the iPod.

      • I don’t think it’s important that we know how to use the old school paper Bibles as much any more.  I mean what honestly is the purpose of memorizing the order of the Bible other than for the paper version?  I know I COULD find something in a paper Bible but even if I knew the order, and I generally do, it still would take me far more time to find it in a paper Bible than any electronic one.