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How kids can tap into the Bible…

Can technology help God’s word come alive, and let the little children come to Him? How do we help kids have fun engaging with the Bible? The answer maybe YouVersion’s new app, simple titled The Bible App For Kids”. The guys at LifeChurch that develop the YouVersion bible have done a great job promoting the new Bible through the phenomenal user base of 100 million plus who have the grown up’ Bible app installed. But is it any good, what do kids actually think? Let’s take a look…

What’s the Big Deal?

There are plenty of Kids Bible’s out there, some great (The Jesus Story Book Bible, The Big Picture Story Bible), some not so great (I won’t name those). So, why this? The tablet revolution in just a few short years has reached a saturation point where many kids are within arm’s reach of one, and they know how to use them far better than many adults. So, the tablet provides the perfect platform to bring deeper engagement, fun and creativity to the great stories of the Bible.

Also, as mentioned this app comes from a team that know how to build great apps. LifeChurch have four core causes, one of which is Digital Missions, and when LifeChurch have a cause they deliver. The YouVersion Bible App was the first bible in the iTunes App Store and is by far the most successful with over 100 million installs and 75 billion minutes of scripture reading accumulated so far, across every mobile platform.

The Bible App for Kids in its first week reached 1 million installs and has been created in partnership with OneHope.

How useful is it for you?

If you have kids, or at least feel like one then it’s a great way to explore the bible. At launch there isn’t the full array of Bible stories we’re all used to. I guess in an effort to release it ahead of Christmas and grow a user base they launched with just six stories.

Interestingly, the six chosen provide an excellent big picture over view of the Gospel. We have creation, the fall, the birth of Jesus, the healing of the paralysed man, Jesus’s death and Jesus’s Resurrection. It’s the Bible Story in a nutshell.

There is the promise of more stories to come soon, and there is a neat in-app download to add these stories as you want them.

What makes the app really stand out, and why there are only six stories so far, is the beautiful drawings and animations for each one. A lot of care and detail has gone into making it an fun exploratory experience.

Each story is narrated with follow along text, behind the text are great scenes you can drag around, tap, make move and find hidden gems and answer questions on what happened.

For those not quite into reading you can swipe the text out of the way and just play with the scene while the story is read to you. Whether you tap on an elephant that squirts water or a palm tree that flings coconuts into the sea, kids will find plenty to amuse.

Aside from the fun animations, YouVersion have gamified the bible experience. For example, hidden throughout the scenes are little gems allowing you to collect the armour of God. There are multiple choice questions to answer, and each story has a three stars representing how much you’ve read, answered and found in that story.

On top of this is an app wide awards system, that rates your use against how much you’ve done in the whole app. Whether this will entice kids back again and again to get all the stars and fill all the progress bars, time will tell.

Since this app is aimed at kids though, we need to answer the question what do kids actually think? So, in the name of science my 3 year old daughter has been playing with it during her quiet time.

Me: What do you think about your bible app, do you like it?

Sophia: It’s fun!”

Me: What is your favourite thing on the app?

Sophia: I like the trees that throw the coconuts”

Me: What is your favourite story?

Sophia: Jesus coming back to life again!”

What value could it add to ministry?

If you have a ministry working with children, I would definitely recommend trying to get it in front of them to explore. However, the biggest ministry barrier may be the Tablet required to use the app in the first place. But consider having one tablet in a class room hooked up to a large monitor all the kids can sit round a listen to a see the story, and perhaps take it in turns to tap away or collectively answer the questions and spot the hidden gems.

I think of my daughters pre-school, which is run by a church, but attended by kids from the local area without any church background. They do little prayers and sing songs, but maybe this app could provide a good first introduction the bible stories in a different way.

The bible app could also be a great way to get the bible into the homes of the more affluent families who have tablets, and great for getting young kids who are growing up in a digital world to engage with scripture in a perhaps more relevant way.

OneHope who partnered with YouVersion on the app have the simple vision statement. Gods Word. Every Child.” and a plan to reach every child by 2030. An ambitious and noble feat, but I’m sure the Bible App for Kids will go someway to helping accomplish it.

It’s early days and this app breaks some new ground for interactivity and gaming with the bible. I’ll certainly be keeping a close eye on where it goes.

Posted on Dec 20, 2013 by Sam Peckham

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