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The Social Network Gospel
Illustration by James O'Brien
The Social Network Gospel

In the 15th century, Johannes Gutenberg and Martin Luther both wanted to get Scripture into the hands of the masses. Centuries later, in a new millennium with technologies far exceeding any they could have imagined, their vision has been fulfilled at a stunning pace.

Not only do billions around the world now have access to the Bible online, and not only are many of them actually reading it, they're also actively engaging with the Word of God—and with one another in far flung virtual communities across the planet.

With these trends, the vocabulary of Bible dissemination is changing. For centuries, the buzzword was distribution, with a focus on quantity delivered. The new buzzword is engagement. Lamar Vest, president and CEO of the American Bible Society (ABS), says we're witnessing "a revival of Bible engagement. For too long we have judged our effectiveness by the number of Bibles distributed. We are determined to no longer judge our effectiveness by tonnage but by impact."

Vest's comments came at a conference in Orlando, Florida, held late last year by the Forum of Bible Agencies and largely catalyzed by ABS and its new engagement initiative, Uncover the Word. The event drew representatives from over 125 organizations, including Willow Creek Association, Renovaré, the Salvation Army, Christianity Today, and Scripture Union, plus many denominations. Participants were urged to "leave behind their logos and egos" and join a "movement" for Scripture engagement.

Presenters included Bobby Gruenewald, founder of YouVersion.com, with over 50 million us ers; Mark Brown, creator of the Bible page on Facebook, with over 8.5 million "friends"; Jim Mellado, president of Willow Creek Association; Rick Warren, pastor of Saddleback ...

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The Social Network Gospel
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In the Magazine

June 2012

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