Justin Hiebert

Catalyzing Change

Open doors, Open opportunities (part 1)

Posted on 23 Jan 2014 in Church, Discipleship, Leadership | 7 comments

Over the next week or so, I want to take the time to blog through several different media venues and platforms that I think can help you on a daily basis. While most of them will be smartphone/tablet apps, I also hope to include other resources ideas.  My hope and prayer is that you can use these tools and resources to follow Jesus better this year, and experience more abundance and joy in the Holy Spirit. This series will be called Open Doors, Open Opportunities because I think that modern technology has opened doors for us in ways that few other things have.

My goal with those that meet with and develop, is to instill a love for the Bible. I’ve noticed two trends in American Christianity, and both leave me deeply troubled. One, is the belief that all good Christians read their Bible devoutly everyday. I’ve heard sermons and talks on how I need to be spending at least 15, or 30, or 60 minutes a day in intense Bible study to be effective as a person, pastor, theologian, or Christian. And while I agree that Bible reading is important, and foundational (how can you live what you don’t know), I get really nervous anytime we make absolute qualifications about it. I think it breeds a pharisaical attitude and all too often gets people to fall in love with the book, and not the one the book was written about. To force people to read, or feel exclusion, is great at changing actions, but not attitudes. People end up reading, not because they want to, but because they don’t want to be shunned or looked down on.

The other attitude that I’ve seen is the opposite reaction to this: people run from spending time in the Bible. Growing up in a culture where Bible reading was mandatory, they reject the good natured idea behind it and generally throw the baby out with the bathwater. I had someone in seminary once tell me that they quit reading their Bible because they spend their time looking for him in other areas and ways, like community. Now, I think finding God in community is great, and an extraordinarily helpful and encouraging thing, but I also think that if we fail to let the story of God ruminate and shape us, we are in an extreme danger of making God in our own image.

So I find that the greatest challenge is to create a genuine place where people want to encounter and experience God in real and life giving ways. I want them to read their Bibles, not because they are forced or want to impress me, but because they anticipate the mighty ways in which God will work in and through them when they are shaped by the Word.

So for today’s review, we are going to be looking at the new BibleGateway App.


There are several things that I like about the new app: it’s simply, fast, intuitive, and comes with a whole host of great features that I enjoy. Let’s take a look through some of these.

First, I have to say that I’m a fan of the scroll through style of books, chapters and verses. I’ve used other Bible apps that haven’t done it this way, but it’s a native idea to so many other apps, that it just seems to work well. Books are easy to find, select, and read.

Passage select

Scroll style navigation makes passage selection quick and easy.


Once you actually get into the the Bible, the text is clear and the continuous scroll option through chapters and verses is nice. Other platforms that I’ve used have required swiping motions or have operated as push-button style advance. Those often left me frustrated at the lack of user control. BibleGateway as addressed this in an excellent way by seamlessly flowing from one chapter to the next.

John 5

John 5

Chapter advance

Chapter advance


While reading, the highlighting, note creation, and sharing features are accessible and easy to use.

text selcet

Text Options

Note creationHighlights












These features make reading, studying, and understanding the text that much easier. You have the capability to dive into commentaries (the resources button), as well as take notes and cross-reference things for later use. Sharing easily posts verses and chapters as an email, Facebook post, Twitter update, or can be copied to a clipboard and used elsewhere. They work seamlessly and simply.

There is one more feature to the new BibleGateway App that really has me excited. As a busy husband, father, pastor, and community person, it’s a struggle sometimes to find consistent time to sit down and read, but the BibleGateway app has an audio capability that is simply amazing. There are multiple versions to choose from, and it makes it really easy to follow along with reading plans and find time for it daily I’ve also found that listening adds another dimension to Bible study and certain things stick out better or differently when I listen to it as well as read it.


Summary: Overall, I give the new BibleGateway App a 4.5 out of 5. Only a few minor glitches (and they are rare), and an even more enhanced social media scene would make it a better and more engaging app. Twitter integration, hashtag searches, and user connections would be a huge addition and make it a great way to resource and equip local churches to study together. Other than that, it’s a strong app from a well respected (and my go-to) site for quick Bible reference comparison and study.


Do you use the app? What do you think? Please chime in below!

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Justin Hiebert

Leadership Catalyst - Entrepreneur - Coach at JSHiebert Leadership Coaching
I am a Business and Life Coach in both non-profit and for profit settings. I coach leaders, executives, and pastors in areas of vision, clarity, and values. In relationship coaching I focus on healthy and sustainable relationships, and in leadership development roles I catalyze change for individuals and groups to thrive. I also consult churches and organizations on how to train new leaders and create a healthy culture. In addition to that, I am an Anabaptist pastor in the Denver metro area. I specialize on topics that include: missional theology, discipleship, culture and the church in today’s society. I am married to my wonderful wife Elise and we have three kids. I grew up and now work in the United States Mennonite Brethren Church (USMB) and love the people and history of the Mennonite Brethren faith. I am a graduate of Tabor College with a dual degree in Youth Ministry and Christian Leadership, a graduate of Fresno Pacific Biblical Seminary with a Masters of Divinity, and a Doctoral Student and Bethel Seminary. I also teach college classes in areas of Bible, Communication, and Business.

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  • Elise Hiebert

    Yet again, the Christian walk requires maintaining a balance! When I was first starting to follow the Lord, I required myself to read at least 3 chapters a day. This was really good for me to start emmersing myself with knowledge of the faith. But after a while, I used it as a crutch to tell myself, “Hey, you’ve read your scripture for today, you’re cool.” I would find myself opening to the end of Psalms ( some of the shortest chapters in the Bible) and justifying myself. After a while I noticed myself using this as a horrible way to “get closer to God.” As time has evolved and children have monopolized my time, I find apps like BibleGateway really useful. I can read to my daughter in her dark room as she falls asleep. She loves hearing the stories as she falls asleep. We are certainly blessed to have people that are working towards using media to equip the brothers and sisters!

  • Elise Hiebert

    By the way, I stopped using that 3 chapters a day=you’re good. But now I find myself on the other end of knowing that I need to read more to know God more! What a journey…

  • I’ve been using the YouVersion bible app, personally. The first versions of the BibleGateway app left me, as a professional software tester, with a taste of “meh” in my mouth. Perhaps they’ve done enough work with it to make it worth while… I’ll have to give it a shot.

    • BTW… this is one of your most MennoNerdy articles and series yet. 😉

    • Robert,

      I’ve used the YouVersion before, and also really like that one. I’ve intentionally been trying this one out since the re-launch to see how it would be, and I was surprised. I suppose the troublesome thing is that there’s only so much time for apps and such, and it really becomes inefficient to keep trying, or switching back and forth all the time. I guess the best thing is to find one that works for you and stick with it. I’ve been impressed with the redesign, and the one big advantage of BibleGateway, at least since I last used YouVersion a couple of months ago, is the multiple selections of audio Bible’s. While I haven’t checked in awhile, I remember being unimpressed with You Version the last time I tried it.

  • Pingback: Open doors, Open opportunities (part 2) | Empowering Missional()

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