Blessed is the one… whose delight is in the law of the Lord, and who meditates on his law day and night. That person is like a tree planted by streams of water, which yields its fruit in season and whose leaf does not wither—whatever they do prospers. - Psalm 1:1-3
Planting the Seed
During the first evening of Kingdom Code Build 2018 I was struck by the challenge to use digital tools to increase appetite and engagement with the Bible presented by Bible Society. In the days leading up to the event, my wife had been showing off her newly downloaded app (Forest), which encouraged users to ‘switch off’ from their phones; the longer you resist picking up your device, the more a digital forest is able to grow…
So as I sat listening to the Bible Society’s challenge, it occured to me that something similar could be applied to reading scripture. This gamification, though used for disengagement in my wife’s app, could be used to encourage genuine engagement with God’s word which, as Psalm 1 says, brings fruitfulness in the lives of people who delight in God’s word.
So the idea for Bible Garden was born! And just a few minutes later I was in the queue, ready to pitch it to the group.
Encouraging Daily Growth
The vision behind Bible Garden is to encourage users to develop better Bible reading habits. This has always been something that I’ve struggled with, but I’ve found small steps can help to form habits, and once habits are formed, they often stick around (for better or worse!).
With that in mind, the main thrust of Bible Garden is twofold:
Get users to ‘plant’ a seed (based on a Biblical topic or theme), which requires reading a short Bible passage to grow
Encourage users with a daily notification to come back and grow their plant some more, bringing the plant to completion by finishing the theme
The reminders draw users back into the app to read the Bible, and the growth of the plant offers a small reward for the behaviour. Of course, if you fail to log in, your plants begin to wither and die!
Users can go on to plant additional seeds, to develop their own garden. Over time, this provides a visual reminder of their progress, and a reminder of the importance of Spiritual fruitfulness.
For I will pour water on the thirsty land, and streams on the dry ground; I will pour out my Spirit on your offspring, and my blessing on your descendants. They will spring up like grass in a meadow, like poplar trees by flowing streams.
Isaiah 44:3-4, NIV
Tending the Garden
During that first evening of Build, we gathered a small team. We decided to focus on making a native app, due to the importance of push notifications for re-engagement, and we mapped out the user journey for first-time use. Our aim was to have a working prototype to present on the Saturday evening, so our developers worked on server infrastructure for loading content, whilst the rest of us sought to create assets and refine the look and feel. Our presentation wasn’t perfect — on reflection, we agreed that we had probably aimed too high, nevertheless, we achieved a lot in a small space of time.
A core group from the team has steadily continued to work on the app since that time. In addition to myself, we have two talented developers in Mark and Simeon. We’ve since built the aforementioned mockup to gather some immediate feedback on the flow of the app, and we’re close to having a fully working first version for iOS and Android.
Praying for Bible Garden
As a team, we’d really value your prayers as we continue!
Pray that we’d continue to be motivated by the central vision behind the app — encouraging people to spend more time in God’s word each day.
As we seek to move closer to a first release, please also pray that we would be wise with how we spend our time. It’s a balancing act between how much we give to this project in amongst our other commitments.
Finally, we’re on the lookout for additional team members. Particularly at this time, we’d really appreciate the skills of someone with experience and expertise in UI Design for the app. Do pray that we would find the right person — and if you think that person could be you, we’d love to hear from you! You can e-mail firstname.lastname@example.org to get in touch.