YouVersion’s Fluff Faith

You guys want to know what bugs me?

Oh, wait, I guess you read the title and already know.  Good for you!

The Bible is very important to me.

When I was little, I had a Story Book Bible that my parents would read to me.  Then I had an NIV Adventure Bible for kids.  Since then, I’ve upgraded to a 1999 NIV Life Application Study Bible that is heavier and thicker than two or maybe three of my family’s slim Bibles put together.  I have a black case with a handle and multiple pockets in it for my pens, sticky notes, journal, etc.

However, I also use the YouVersion Bible app on my phone.  It’s really helpful when I want to compare versions, quickly look up a verse, or just have the Bible always on me.

But I’m not satisfied with the app’s focus.

It has a number of Bible-reading plans to jump right into (I just finished one called Truth Seeker and I’m in the middle of a great Read the Bible in a Year plan), there are so few that are Biblically meat-y, if they’re not prosperity-focused.  There are a plethora of ‘Christian’ celebs who write short, promotional (for their next book and/or for a better you) devos, and it’s a bit discouraging to have to wade through all of the milk to find any of the actual meat.

Psalm 119.143

And I am almost constantly frustrated by their Bible verse images.  They make these really hip, millennial-inspired images with a Bible verse (or part of one) in some fancy script, but there’s rarely any correlation between the image and the verse!

Thankfully, they give you the option to make your own.  Unfortunately, out of the 30 or so images they give you to choose from, there is:

  • 1 person praying
  • 1 cross (looking very pretty, mind you)
  • One church steeple
  • Only a couple of straight paths (rest wind through deserts, forests, etc.)

There is NO artsy picture of a Bible (of which the internet is filled!), of Jesus on the cross, or of anything else remotely Biblical.  They are mostly pretty sunsets, mountains, forests, and windy paths or pretty lights and bokeh.  There is an option to use your own picture, but I rarely want to invest that much time Googling the perfect picture.

Plus, they recommend all these “Your Best Year Now Bible Reading Plans” at the turn of the year, and it’s really annoying, haha.

The millennial influence is pervasive and I’m not impressed it one iota.  However, there are a lot of good tools on the app, and it’s nice to be able to be friends with people and see what they’re studying, so it stays on my phone.

I’m not sure how to end this, haha, I didn’t really have an end goal in mind when I started writing this… I guess that I recommend the YouVersion Bible app, but take it with a grain of salt. 😉


14 Replies to “YouVersion’s Fluff Faith”

  1. I use the YouVersion app daily. One of my concerns is the plans are often written by people who interpret the Bible very differently. For example, I started reading a plan that ended the devo part saying, just sit down to a quiet meal, drink some wine and commune with Jesus! I would consider this like you called It, “fluff”. It wasn’t speaking figuratively! We are living in a time in church history when people are trying new – old things like contemplative “study” or Lectio Divina which goes back to the monks during the middle ages and has nothing to do with studying God’s Word and everything to do with Mysticism. On the other hand, there are some excellent studies on the app, by people like Laura Story and Timothy Keller that really teach God’s Word and how to live it! I just see some places to be very cautious when using this Bible App.

    Liked by 3 people

  2. Yes, I’ve observed the disconnect between verse and accompanying image too. One time my sister entered the visuals arts competition through the Oakton Foundation, which addressed just that. They challenged artists to create works of art that expressed God’s truth, rather than “slapping a verse on a picture of a lighthouse” and calling it a day. While the natural world does express God’s glory in itself, one can use so much more to convey the meaning of a verse!
    Thanks for sharing your thoughts on the YouVersion app. Presently I only have a print NIV copy of the Bible, plus a couple of concordances, but I do recognize the value of having the Bible accessible on a phone. I just might download YouVersion for that purpose. Every so often I’m out and a verse strikes me, but I don’t remember its location or its full text. An app could help!
    (P.S. I have a Bible case like that too, with the handle and pockets. Alas, mine is old and tearing in spots.)

    Liked by 3 people

  3. Try using the app. It comes with audio narration (a nice bonus) and offers different translations (even the NASB for us fickle few). It’s my favorite Bible app.
    I also have the ESV Bible app. Although the ESV is not my preferred translation, this app is easy to use and is quick to search when you want to look up a particular verse.
    Both the app and the ESV app are in the App Store (iPhone, iPad). Not sure if they’re available on other platforms or not.

    Liked by 1 person

  4. If you’re willing to get all sorts of geeky, try out something that uses the SWORD module.

    Way back yonder, there was a really robust software called e-Sword. The whole software was built around “modules” that could be downloaded and were cross-referenced all over, which meant that you could open up a Bible, commentary, Bible dictionary and a few other texts at the same time, and that scrolling through them turned all of them to the relevant parts of the book.

    e-Sword died, but they released the code as open-source, and it lives on as The Sword Project:

    YouVersion is for people who don’t like to get deep, as you’ve clearly inferred! 😛

    Liked by 1 person

  5. Young people get a bad rep in churches because “they want pizza parties and fog machines” – but I’ve found the opposite to be true. Like you, the yearn for more substance, they demand meat from services full of fluff.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. And THAT’S why we have an entire generation leaving the church. They’re sick of being pandered to with a substanceless “gospel” and they want a purpose, a meaning, not a weekly ritual that might make them feel good. It’s saddening.
      Our church doesn’t have a separate teen program; the teens lead the kids church in shifts each Wednesday and Sunday and otherwise stay in the service with the adults. This approach has borne a lot of great fruit, so I heartily believe in it.

      Liked by 1 person

      1. Love it! Old leaders being unwilling to hand the reins over and being unwilling to train up the next generation as their eventual replacements sort of sums up a lot of the issues in churches today – but it’s always a blessing to see exceptions!

        Liked by 1 person

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