If You Want to See Creativity in Action, Look At the Bible App on Your Phone

Do you have the Bible app on your mobile device(s)? In terms of ministry impact and influence, would the Bible app be in the top 50 big ideas of the 21st century? Top 10?

The Bible app was conceived and developed by a church in Oklahoma called Lifechurch.tv. Senior pastor Craig Groeschel says he gives his leaders the freedom to implement their own visions, not so he can remain secure in retaining them, but because he genuinely believes in them.

Bobby Gruenewald, whose title is Innovation Leader, generated the concept. “YouVersion Bible app and Life Church online were his ideas so when he has an idea, he has earned the credibility to run with it,” said Groeschel. “I’m not going to stand in his way; he can create whatever God puts in his heart.”

What is your initial reaction to this story? Let me guess a few:

  • It’s a big honkin’ megachurch (implying it cant happen at smaller churches)
  • It’s a non-denominational church (implying it can’t happen at “established” churches)
  • It’s rich and has the resources (implying it can’t happen at “normal” churches)

Fine excuses, all of them. But which comes first, chicken or egg?

Maybe you’ve heard the story: Originally Craig Groeschel did ministry in the United Methodist Church (a pretty big denominational body). But when he wanted to plant a new church, he couldn’t get pass the local agency’s set of rules and restrictions. So he left the UMC and started his own church, from scratch. A big decision for him and his family, to be sure. He was walking away from jobs and pensions.

Sadly, I’ve met several Methodist church leaders who can’t get past their negative feelings about his decision. Yet it’s indisputable that Groeschel is an innovator and as we see with the Bible app, uses the same philosophy in his leadership of others. The result, aside from the phenomenal growth of Lifechurch.tv, is an app that has been downloaded tens of millions of times around the world, in the process completely disrupting an entire Bible publishing industry, and has had an impact for the work of the church that extends further than anyone’s wildest imagination.

See, we get it backwards. We only look at outcomes. That’s God’s job. Our job is to make. Creativity that ships – also known as innovation – is the goal, not size or growth, and most of the time that means we have to start small and lonely and with risk and resistance and with few resources.