Jeff Moore couldn’t help be in awe of the moment as he stood before 110 sports ministry leaders from more than 40 nations. As Director of Global Impact at YouVersion, Moore was a special guest speaker at the International Capacity Conference in Antigua, Guatemala. Moore educated the group on ways it could impact the world through the immensely popular mobile Bible app known as YouVersion.
“It was inspiring to meet so many high caliber, bought-in leaders who were openhanded even before understanding the technology,” YouVersion’s Director of Global Impact said.
For both FCA and YouVersion, Moore’s interaction with international staff was the culmination of a budding relationship that unofficially started in 2013 when FCA created its first YouVersion Bible Plan. The relationship was formalized in 2018 when Dan Britton, FCA Executive Vice President of International Ministry, reached out to create a stronger, more mutually beneficial partnership.
“We knew about the Bible app and we used it in our ministry, but we didn’t have any type of partnership with them,” Britton explained. “We do a lot of devotionals and Bible studies, and when they started doing these Bible Plans, we realized that maybe we could take some of our pre-existing resources and turn those into Bible Plans for YouVersion. We saw our coaches and athletes utilizing them. We saw our staff promoting them. It just took off.”
But it wasn’t until the FCA International team’s visit to the YouVersion offices in Oklahoma City last year when big picture ideas began to develop at a rapid pace.
Moore’s next piece of advice appealed to FCA’s sports DNA: The ministry needed to have both a passing game and a running attack.
The passing game (or air cover, as Moore alternately described it) meant making sure that FCA had organizational buy-in and as much of its pre-existing content broken down into shorter, digestible Bible Plans. Camp ministry and Huddle groups are two specific areas that Moore believes will greatly benefit from this idea.
“My hope is that when campers come to camp, they can be doing a Bible Plan together in their Huddle,” he said. “That opens their eyes to what a great discipleship tool they have access to for the long haul in their walk with Christ. We can create a Bible Plan that happens during the camp and create another Bible Plan that starts the day after camp. That creates a long term relationship between the Huddle leaders and the athletes that are coming to camp.”
Conversely, the running attack (or ground game) meant training FCA staff to create content on their own.
Moore spent most of his time in Guatemala meeting international leaders face-to-face in order to encourage and equip them to make that second piece of strategy a priority.
“Sometimes things that are different are scary,” Moore said. “That is not the attitude around here. These leaders speak languages that none of us at YouVersion speak. They can create content that none of us can create. We may be able to deliver content, but we need that great local language content in order to deliver it. That’s a partnership worth pursuing.”
Ironically, it was the team from Ukraine who helped jumpstart the concept before it even existed. Global Regional Coordinator Andriy Kravtsov spearheaded the first reading plan based on FCA’s 3D Coaching, which was subsequently downloaded by over 3,000 Ukrainian coaches. Dan Britton heard about it while visiting Andriy.
“They beat us to the punch,” Britton said. “The Bible Plan was wildly successful within their ministry, and so I asked them to translate it into English.”
For FCA International, the benefits for a strong partnership with YouVersion are especially rich. For instance, while the mobile app doesn’t see itself as a replacement for printed Bibles, it doesn’t cost to be printed, shipped, stored or distributed, and is accessible to anyone with a smart phone, tablet or internet access.
“We’re already seeing in every nation a generation where their mobile device is their lifeline to the rest of the world,” Moore said. “It’s with them all the time. We can use tools that are on a device that they have with them 24-7 to enable them to understand and grow in their faith a little bit each day. When there’s a generation regularly engaging in the Bible, we’re going to see nations change. We’re going to see communities change. We’re going to see churches planted. We’re going to see ministries explode. We fully believe that the Bible transforms lives.”
The Bible app is also able to transcend many of the barriers that exist in nations where sharing the Gospel of Jesus Christ is either illegal or socially unacceptable. Moore spoke to at least two attendees at the conference in Guatemala who said they couldn’t carry a physical Bible in public but had YouVersion on their phones.
And finally, FCA believes that this partnership will help continue its goal of creating more resources that are specific to each nation.
“We want to engage our international leaders to start developing and writing some of their own plans instead of just taking what we’ve done and translating it,” Britton said. “We want the plans to be more contextualized and written from their perspective. Our vision would be that we have Bible Plans for coaches and athletes in every single language and in every single country that we’re working in, free of charge. Providing new ways to engage in God’s Word would be the ultimate win."
To that end, FCA now has 47 Bible Plans in numerous languages such as Spanish, Ukrainian, Russian, Chinese (Simplified) and Korean. In total, users have subscribed to these plans over 1.4 million times in just over five years.
“The key part of this partnership is to get people into God’s Word,” Britton added. “True transformation happens when our coaches and athletes are engaged in God’s Word. These Bible Plans allow our international leaders to have a very resourceful way to connect their local ministry to God’s Word and provide it for free. Now, it’s just going to take some work to develop these plans and then engage the people.”
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