The COVID-19 pandemic led to an increase in Bible reading in 2020 that continued into 2021, according to new data from YouVersion, the popular Bible app that is available worldwide.
Daily Bible engagement on the YouVersion app was up an average of 24 percent worldwide in 2021 compared to pre-pandemic numbers, according to new data from the company that also revealed that people around the world read 55.8 billion Bible chapters and listened to 8.2 billion Bible audio chapters in 2021. YouVersion defines "daily Bible engagement" as taking place Monday through Saturday. Historically, Sunday always sees a spike in Bible engagement, YouVersion said.
Although 2021's engagement numbers didn't surpass those of 2020, they still were higher than the months preceding the pandemic.
Meanwhile, the most popular verse in 2021 was Matthew 6:33: "But seek first the kingdom of God and His righteousness, and all these things will be added to you." It is the verse that was shared, bookmarked and highlighted the most.
"There has been a noticeable shift in patterns" of Bible engagement "over the past two years," YouVersion said. "In March 2020, when people weren't able to attend church in person, weekday Bible engagement increased by 10 percent 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."
Other features within the YouVersion app remain popular. The app's Plans with Friends feature – which allows friends to follow the same Bible reading plan – experienced 50 percent more subscriptions in 2021 compared to pre-pandemic levels.
"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 YouVersion founder Bobby Gruenewald. "They're engaging past that initial moment of need and digging deeper to strengthen their relationship with God."
The 13-year-old app was launched in 2008 by Life.Church as one of only 200 free apps in the iOS App Store. It is still free.
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Michael Foust has covered the intersection of faith and news for 20 years. His stories have appeared in Baptist Press, Christianity Today, The Christian Post, the Leaf-Chronicle, the Toronto Star and the Knoxville News-Sentinel.