Relaymedia

Christian Groups Hop on Tech Wave with iPhone Apps

( [email protected] ) Mar 17, 2010 03:38 PM EDT

Christian organizations are widely thought to be slow in adopting new technology and innovations. But there are a number today that are breaking the stereotype and catching on more quickly to what the secular marketplace has embraced.

Among the latest are application software, or apps, for portable media players.

Just two days ago, Northland, A Church Distributed in Orlando streamed live for the first time its Sunday service via its new Facebook app for iPhones and iPods.

Though the evangelical megachurch had launched its first iPhone Web app back in July 4, 2009, its latest iPhone app, unlike the first, allows Northland’s live services to also be accessible on Facebook, which it compares to a “nation” with 400 million “residents.”

According to Facebook.com, the average user has 130 Facebook friends and spends more than 55 minutes a day on the site.

Northland says streaming live Sunday worship is like planting a new church.

“We encourage people to be the church everywhere, every day, so it just makes sense to put resources out there that will help people to be that church,” says Nathan Clark, Northland’s director of digital innovation.

With the new app, people can invite their Facebook friends to go to church in a way that is comfortable and familiar to them.

In addition to live worship, users of the app can also access the previous week’s service.

“At Northland, we often talk about the need to take the Church to the people, versus asking them to come to us,” says Clark. “For us, it was a wake-up call to realize that we were doing precisely that online – asking people to come to our website for worship. Why require a virtual commute over to our website when you can have church where people are?”

The megachurch, which boasts 12,000 members, hopes to further tap into the extremely popular social networking site with its latest resource.

Northland also hopes that online and iPhone worshippers will eventually join a community of believers in the real world, which many have already begun to do.

“We continually hear stories of people who start to worship online and eventually find a community to worship with others, or start one of their own,” reports Clark. “People are coming to church, and they are also watching the services online. We just don’t see this as a zero-sum game.”

Meanwhile, as Northland busies itself bringing church to people, Logos Bible Software is bringing the Bible and biblical resources to iPhones and iPod Touches.

The leading publisher of high-end Bible software recently released a free iPhone app that delivers tools and resources that will help Christians dive deeper into the Bible’s text. The free app allows users to access more than 30 titles from devotionals, commentaries, and biblical language resources.

Some of the available titles include Treasury of Scripture Knowledge, Easton’s Bible Dictionary, Systematic Theology, New Nave’s Topical Bible, Strong’s Concise Dictionary of the Words of the Hebrew Bible and the Greek Testament, and Dictionary of the Vulgate New Testament, among others.

People who have purchased the Logos Bible Software’s desktop application can use the companion iPhone app to access more than 3,500 currently available titles. Logos Bible says it plans to add more titles for the iPhone until it reaches more than 10,000.

“I think what is really cool is that you can tap into a library of 3,000 Bible reference works and it’s growing all the time,” says Bob Pritchett, president of Logos Bible Software. “Most of the mobile phone Bible apps I’ve seen have a small library of books that are available. [But] because we are harnessing the power of our existing platform, we are able to offer thousands of titles right off the bat.”

Pritchett says the company is interested in seeing people have more and better Bible studies. He hopes that by making the Bible tools more accessible it will help people “go to the next level” in their Bible studies.

Other popular or noteworthy Christian iPhone apps include YouVersion’s Bible, The Love Dare: Reminders, Prayer List – Request Organizer, Christian Rock Music, Bible Trivia Extreme, Dance Praise, and My Utmost for his Highest.

Introduced in the United States by Apple in 2007, iPhones are currently being used by more than six million people in the United States. The iPhone 3GS is the most recent of three generations of the iPhone.