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Bible Software Choice: Power House or Simple Software

People with simple Bible study needs often pick the simple Bible programs and apps. They are easy to learn and cost less if anything. But will the app or program grow with the user? Can a powerhouse program help people with simple needs study the Bible as well as a the simple apps? We’ll take a look and answer those questions.

Bible software and apps for simple and power users

Three Kinds of Bible Software Users

Bible software or Bible app users fall into one of three categories usually.

  1. Bible Reader – average believer who plans to read the Bible on their phone or tablet and maybe a computer.
  2. Pastor or Scholar – these users will need a good app or program that can do advanced searches, study the Bible in Greek or Hebrew and study the word at a deeper level to teach, preach or write scholarly books or articles.
  3. Growing Student – some people start as a #1 but over time grow into the #2 or they just really like to study the Bible at an interim or advanced level for personal edification or to prepare for a family or small group Bible study.

A program like Accordance, Logos, Wordsearch or even Olive Tree will handle the #2 kind of user easily. Some people will never graduate above the #1 type of Bible student and that’s fine. I often recommend the Bible app from Life.Church, also called the YouVersion Bible app. In the past I’ve recommended Bible Gateway, Laridian’s Pocket Bible, e-Sword and Tecarta’s great Bible apps. Those all fall in the simple group even though Laridian also does some of the Power House tasks. So what should you use even if you’re not a power user?

accordance user tool

What do we do with the third group of Bible students? Should these users consider using a more powerful Bible program and the companion mobile app? Since few people who move from the first group into the second group know they will, shouldn’t all believers start out with the more advanced tools knowing it might happen? I’m going to argue for that approach below.

Reasons Both Groups Should Use the Power House Bible Software

A seminary professor or a Sunday school teacher leading the youth class can enjoy a quality Bible app or Bible software. Here’s why the youth class teacher should consider the power house Bible software.

Room to Grow

I know of a young couple that recently built a new house. They put in only one large bathroom. They said that didn’t need more. However, what if they have another child or two? A second bathroom will seem like a necessity and not a luxury. Similarly, more powerful Bible software gives Bible students of any level room to grow. They can go from a person who just wants to read and do simple Bible searches to a Greek or Hebrew scholar. You can’t do that if you invest in an app.

Many pastors, missionaries and Bible scholars share testimonies of teaching a youth Sunday school class when God called them to vocational ministry. If such a person invested a hundred or two hundred dollars in books to use with their simple Bible study tool, they would later need to buy another program to get the more powerful features these programs include. God doesn’t call everyone to become a pastor or scholar. If this was the only reason our simple users have to buy power house software, then I’d recommend they save their money and go with the Bible app. However, we’ve got a few other reasons.

Powerful Apps Also Do Simple Tasks

logos text comparison tool

Logos Text Comparison tool

While you wouldn’t use a sledge-hammer to pound in a finishing nail sticking out of a chair rail in the dining room, you could. Buying a sledge-hammer and a small hammer won’t break most carpenter’s bank accounts. However, Bible users won’t likely buy a $10 program for simple tasks and a $200-$3,000 program for Bible study. A lot of us use a free app and then buy the more powerful app, but some pay for an app that includes a few Bibles and commentaries to help them understand their daily Bible reading or teach their Sunday school class. Why not buy the books in a more powerful app since it does the complex and simple tasks?

Remember that you spend more than just money. It takes time and effort to learn the program and get to a point where you’re thinking about the Bible passage or theological topic more than the steps to get your study done. Take it from someone withe experience with a dozen Bible programs and apps over they years. Just knowing how to do what you want without thinking is a huge time saver.

Accordance handles deep searching for every instance of a certain Greek verb in one tense or Hebrew word with a particular grammatical form. It will also let you read a Bible passage in multiple translations and share them online. You can use Logos to do create complex diagrams of a Hebrew text or instantly compare a passage in multiple translations with a visual report. Students can also buy the latest popular Christian books and read them on a computer, phone or tablet tracking your reading process. They can highlight every future passage verb and highlight your favorite verses in these programs. The more advanced programs all offer a way to share Bible memes online too, something that characterizes the best simple apps too.

See my round up of Simple Bible apps at ChurchTechToday.

Support for Multiple Devices

McDonald’s sells billions of hamburgers even though they’re universally criticized for lack of nutrition and taste. (Don’t tell anyone, but I really like Quarter Pounders, but I’m in the minority). They sell so many burgers because you can find one in almost every town bigger than 500 people in America. You can also find the same quality at a store in New York City and Bangkok, Thailand. Consistency is key. It’s the same with the best Bible software.

olive tree bible on pixelbook

Olive Tree Bible Reader Android app on a Chromebook.

Some apps work fine on a phone or on a tablet or on a computer. Few of these apps work great on all three and some app makers don’t publish apps for all three. Sometimes the simple app makers offer a great desktop program, but a pretty weak iPhone version. Other developers sell great Android apps, but offer an iOS app that’s pretty weak in comparison. Throw in the Kindle Fire tablet, and you get fewer options that work on all platforms.

While your chosen simple Bible app might work great on your iPhone and iPad, maybe the app developer doesn’t create a decent alternative for the Mac. And what if you need to switch to a Windows PC or an Android phone or tablet? That’s why the big power house programs make the best choice for some people who need cross-platform support.

Get the more powerful apps from companies like Faithlife Logos and Accordance Bible Software.

Contrarian View

I support the above arguments without reservation. However, some people will never become a student of the Bible who needs more advanced features of Logos or Accordance. The simple Bible app, Laridian’s PocketBible or even better Olive Tree Bible Reader does the job. In fact, most Christians should probably use Olive Tree as their simple program that can grow since that app does the basics and offers some advanced features. If such a person ever becomes a seminary professor, he or she will need more. But save money and time learning the intermediate app that works almost the same on all the major platforms.

 

Kevin

Dr. Kevin Purcell is pastor of High Peak Baptist Church, an author and writer at Church Tech Today (www.churchtechtoday.com). He used to write for a number of other Christian and secular technology and mobile tech sites. Now he's one of the hosts of the Theotek Podcast, which you can find by checking the menu above or over at www.facebook.com/theotekpodcast.

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