As the YouVersion Bible App celebrates reaching 500 million installs, the faith-based app revealed its 2021 Verse of the Year, reflecting the verse shared, bookmarked, and highlighted most often throughout the year:
Matthew 6:33: “But seek first the kingdom of God and His righteousness, and all these things will be added to you.”
“We’re encouraged to see high levels of Bible engagement again this year because it means people are turning to God and the Bible for answers to their questions. Even our Verse of the Year points to the heart of the YouVersion Community to seek God and know Him more,” said YouVersion Founder Bobby Gruenewald.
“While some people claim the Bible is irrelevant and Scripture engagement is declining, these 500 million installs indicate otherwise. The Bible continues to be relevant and has the power to transform lives. That’s why we’re excited to celebrate this milestone. Not just because it’s a big number, but because each install represents a chance for someone to go deeper in their faith and grow closer to God.”
Created by Life.Church, YouVersion encourages and challenges people to seek God each day with 2,600 versions of Bible text in more than 1,760 languages along with features such as Bible Plans, Verse of the Day Stories, Verse Images, and simply highlighting and sharing verses with friends. With the help of publishers, Bible societies, and other partners, YouVersion is able to digitally distribute new Bible translations as soon as they’re completed, allowing people around the world to more quickly engage in Scripture in their first language. Bible App for Kids, which was developed in partnership with OneHope in 2013, helps children engage with the stories of the Bible through interactive animations and fun activities. It has been installed on more than 76 million unique devices.
In an end-of-year media statement, YouVersion said Bible engagement continued to track upwards. In 2021, about 64 billion Bible chapters had been read or listened to, which was a 21 per cent lift from 2020 and an increase of 56 per cent from 2019.
“Throughout the last several years, we have continually seen God do more than we could imagine through YouVersion. As the app has grown exponentially to reach people in every country of the world and change millions of lives, our faith has also grown to see new possibilities,” said Gruenewald. “We believe this is just the beginning for YouVersion. We have a fresh vision for where the Bible App is headed, and we’re excited to roll out new features in 2022 to better serve pastors and church leaders.”
Pandemic patterns solidify in 2021
Before the COVID-19 pandemic hit, YouVersion had recorded spikes in Bible engagement every Sunday, typically 20 per cent higher than the rest of the week. However, the pattern has shifted noticeably over the past two years. In March 2020, when people weren’t able to attend church in person, weekday Bible engagement increased by 10 per cent and continued to rise in the following weeks. As churches began to reopen, Bible engagement spikes on Sundays returned, but not at the expense of daily engagement habits. In 2021, Monday to Saturday engagement was still up by 24 per cent compared to pre-pandemic levels.
There was also greater engagement with YouVersion’s community features when the pandemic hit, and those numbers remained high during 2021. In particular, the Plans with Friends feature experienced a big jump in engagement during the shutdown and continues to attract 50 per cent more subscriptions in 2021 compared to pre-pandemic rates.
“Coming off of a record year in 2020, we’re excited to see that so many people are continuing the daily Bible engagement habits they created last year,” said Gruenewald. “They’re engaging past that initial moment of need and digging deeper to strengthen their relationship with God.”
Global growth sharpest in Africa and Asia
The fastest-growing geographical areas for both app installs and daily Scripture engagement were Central Africa and Southern Asia. Specifically, in the Congo, Bible engagement increased by 49 per cent and in Pakistan by 69 per cent year-over-year. In each of these regions, verse sharing, video plays, and search activity were high throughout the year.
This November, the YouVersion Bible App surpassed 500 million unique installs. As people around the globe installed the app, they returned to regularly engage with the Bible. In 2021 alone, the YouVersion Community:
- Read 55.8 billion chapters
- Played 8.2 billion audio chapters
- Created 2.4 billion Highlights, Bookmarks, and Notes
- Completed 1.4 billion Bible Plan days
YouVersion also added to its Prayer feature in 2021 with the launch of Guided Prayer, which leads people through a series of prompts to help them reflect on Scripture and draw closer to God. In less than a year, a Guided Prayer was completed more than 38.4 million times.