International (MNN) — One in four Christians use a digital device for reading, according to a recent study by the Barna Group.
Christians are tracking with the rest of America, as one-quarter of US adults own an e-reader.
The trend among believers has especially grown for pastors. From 2010 to 2012, pastors’ use of digital readers grew from 14% to 44%.
This can be discouraging for die-hard book lovers. But as Faith Comes By Hearing (FCBH) points out, half the world can’t read. That’s literacy-literacy. But the world can still be ‘Biblically literate’ by hearing or seeing God’s Word.
“It doesn’t have to be the printed text,” says Bill Lohr with FCBH. “In many places people still want that and they want the feel of the paper even. A lot of readers will tell you that. And that’s still available. Here in America we have over 4 Bibles on average per household so that’s not going to go away… particularly here in a literate culture. But there’s so many places in the world where the actual reading is not something you can do.”
The Bible.is app by FCBH offers God’s Word in 740 languages, most with audio. “They want to have the audio and the text and the video of some sort and they’re really into the interaction. That’s what the apps and the online activities are allowing them to do,” says Lohr.
Even in some of poorest nations, there’s access to smart phones. There will be 5 billion smartphones on the planet by 2015. Two-thirds of the world’s population will have access to text, audio, and video for God’s Word in the palm of their hand.
Lohr shares how the Bible.is app actually expands literacy. “It almost becomes a tool for conventional literacy. You have text in audio; you can help and create a situation where you can learn then how to read, but in the interim they’re still getting God’s Word because they can hear it through the audio.”
Ultimately, it’s enabling users to share the name of Jesus Christ. “They’re able to share these things with their friends; they’re able to interact through social media,” Lohr says. “It’s really an outreach to the world. It’s not necessarily even a personal type of app anymore…. It’s something you can [use to] share God’s Word.”
FCBH even has a deaf Bible.is app, which is completely video-based. Lohr says this is “something we could never have done before this technology because what’s an audio Bible going to do for the deaf? Well, it’s nothing for the deaf. They can’t use it. But now with technology and the inventions of apps and online, video is in the palm of their hand.”
But someone has to foot the bill for all this. That’s why Lohr says FCBH partners with churches and individual donors who catch this vision of digital outreach. “They are Great Commission people and that is their focus, they want to get God’s Word out there. They realize after seeing that it’s not always something where print text is going to be useful, it does need to get into audio.”
Lohr also asks for prayer. “Anything from recording teams in the field, the work we do here to get it onto the different devices, funding for what we’re doing; we have an outreach to the military…. Any one is a point where we would love to have prayer.”