How Bible engagement is happening across 1000+ churches | Episode 25

Tune in to this the most recent episode of our Future.Bible Podcast with our special guest, Chris Davis.

Chris is the Director of Digital Services. In this episode, Chris will discuss about goTandem app, its features and benefits to the users.

Get to know more about Chris and his work through their goTandem app.

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Contact Details:

gotandem app: https://itunes.apple.com/us/app/gotandem-bible-engagement-app/id583429440?mt=8

backtothebible.org

https://www.backtothebible.org/gotandem

Twitter: @crd55

Instagram: chrisdavis

Website: backtothebible.org

TRANSCRIPTION:

Dj Chuang:    Up to another episode of Future.Bible. My name is Dj Chuang and today our special guest is Chris Davis from the Back to the Bible. How are you today?


Chris Davis:    Good, good. Thanks for having me on, Dj. I’m really looking forward to it.


Dj Chuang:    Well, great. Well, Chris is the director of digital services. What a cool title in the tech side of ministry for 20 years. So you’ve seen a lot of changes. From IT management, software architecture, digital marketing for organizations like, specialties on a brand group publishing and now Back to the Bible. And he’s helping to drive their digital discipleship efforts with goTandem and their custom apps. So that’s what we’ll be talking about today. But for our viewers and listeners that are not familiar with Back to the Bible, can you give us a 60 second background on who Back to the Bible is.


Chris Davis:    Yes. Back to the Bible, started 80 years ago as a radio ministry out of Lincoln, Nebraska. And, we’re still on the radio and going strong there, but in the early 2000 you know, things began to shift, the radio wasn’t the best way to reach people anymore and there was a lot more happening online and we had established with the web, but really needed to think of new ways to meet people with our mission of engaging them with God’s word.


Chris Davis:    And so we are constantly looking at new ways to do that. And it’s an ever evolving process, like most projects in the technology world.


Dj Chuang:    Okay. So what is the latest thing that back to the Bible is doing to keep up with this ever changing digital world?


Chris Davis:    Well, our latest effort is, our goTandem app and it is a daily discipleship tool that can help somebody engage God’s word right where they are through notifications and reminders, they get God’s word delivered to them. One thing that makes goTandem kind of different is that it’s personalized every person. There’s a brief assessment that a new user we’ll take and that’ll help us deliver just the right content to the individual. So you know, the verses you may see are different than what I would see. And, we really try to hone in on an individual’s needs and not just a blanket, you know, kind of shotgun approach to content delivery.


Dj Chuang:    That’s pretty smart. You’ve got some kind of algorithm that is learning how to customize a Bible reading experience for people then.


Chris Davis:    Yes. We have actually a research arm and that’s constantly looking at this problem and they’ve developed an Algorithm and we have the verses that are in, they’re all coded so that they get a score and it will match it to your score based on your assessment. And, we’re really excited about just how that has been helping people as it’s been developed. I mean it’s, it’s really almost a 10 year old project now, but, you know, it’s getting better every day.


Dj Chuang:    Before we talk about the newest version that’s being launched, 10 years of history, I mean, that’s almost, let’s see, that’s almost when the iPhone was invented.


Chris Davis:    Yes. And it’s not quite 10 years. We’re a few years shy of that, but it’s been, you know, an effort and effort over 10 years. You know, it’s been almost 10 years as an app. But, you know, it started with email blasts and fax blasts and you know, finding ways to personalize people’s content. And the app was the obvious evolution to that when that technology came along. And we’ve been you know, it constantly evolving it. We just launched recently what we call version 4, that’ll, that’ll help set us up for the future of helping people move closer to Jesus.


Dj Chuang:    Well, what are some of the new features that you wrote out in version 4?


Chris Davis:    Well, there’s a lot that happened under the hood, code based stuff and unifying, streamlining the code base so that there’s a unified experience across apps and the web.

Chris Davis:    And all the guys that work at a level above me that understand all the code, I’m sure we’d get way more excited about that. But, for the front end, you know, the kind of the bells and whistles that people see,we really reworked the whole interface to make it more intuitive and easier to use as well as we’ve updated a favorite section of the app so that people can much like in Facebook, you know, favorite something, to make it come back to make it easier to come back and they can leave messages to themselves so they can be reminded of why they favorited that particular scripture. We also added a new light functionality, which again, this is nothing new with Facebook and Youtube and the like, but this will allow users, it’s not just the simple hit the thumb, you know, “Yay”.


Chris Davis:    But, if they can answer a stream, like “this was great for me, it was okay”, and then that information will, we’ll go back in and really help us to improve not only the Algorithm, but also just what kind of content people are responding to and kind of get a better pulse of, of how people are using the content. So we’re really excited about that. And so, you know, we were posed for the future now. We’re hoping in the next few months to roll out and update, that’ll add some group functionality. We also, goTandem is kind of the flagship that anyone can go download, but we also have a thousand churches and organizations using a white label version of the app. And so our next wave is really going to be adding in features for those users like groups so that churches could set up their small groups and let allow them a place to interact around the scripture and in what they’re studying. So lots are happening in the future.


Dj Chuang:    That’s amazing.


Chris Davis:    Yes. And, from around the world in many different languages. And, you know, we’re excited about where God’s taking that internationally as well as here in the US.


Dj Chuang:    Can we talk about some statistics since you’re very very well organized ministry that looks at research and information. That you had a thousand churches all around the world. How do people find goTandem and are you able to break down who are the Christians and non Christians?


Chris Davis:    Yes, I mean, goTandem, there are a number of ways people find it. Some just find it, you know, through search, the organizations are using it are telling their users about it.


Chris Davis:    As many different ways as people find things on the internet, they seem to stumble across goTandem, and in that, the APP platform that we have and so of of those, uh, that come in, uh, like I said, we have a brief assessment so we can kind of get some basic kind of, you know, a picture of who’s using the app. And we find about 40% are actually people that don’t claim to be Christians or believers in any kind of religion. And the most interesting thing is that they stick with it. We find they’re not just, you know, opening up and dropping off, but they’re, you know, reading, reading scripture as it comes to them. And, you know, hopefully, if we can get one, one more person to read the Bible that would never have cracked it, open you know, that’s a win.

Chris Davis:    And so, you know, in that, you know, about 40% are our non Christians. You know, we see a pretty even skew between men and women and across age ranges. It’s little younger you know, more in the 20s and 30s. But, you know, there’s still an active user base, even up into the 50s and 60s. So it’s pretty broad in its appeal and who it’s reaching in and who’s using it.


Dj Chuang:    It’s fantastic. And on the custom app side, I’m sure you’re kind of tracking some of the aggregate data, but can you speak to an example of a church that’s using it well and actively?


Chris Davis:    Yes. We have a number of different churches. Uh, one of the larger ones is a McLean Bible in the DC area. And they’ve been using it actively and are anxious to get to get upgraded to the new version.


Chris Davis:    But they use it, you know, kind of as a basis for discipleship program for the church. So they’re putting in their own content. Any white label, custom app can, can add their own content to it. So they’re adding in their own reading plans and their own tracks that they want their users to engage with. So you know their pastoral staff can, can communicate directly with the messages that they’ve been giving on Sundays and reinforce that. And it’s a great tool for them. We have a large user base in the Nazarene denomination and they’re using it very similarly. Some churches, you know, just use it as a communication tool. They take the verses and the verse for use functionality that’s there and just allow that to do the work and they use it, you know, for their church calendar and for sending out blast to people.


Chris Davis:    And then others are really engaging with the content and adding in their own and, you know, reaching their congregates with it. So it’s really across the board. Some jump in and just use the great content library we have and others are adding to it.


Chris Davis:    That’s amazing. And you’re able to offer this for how much a month?


Chris Davis:    It’s actually, we offer it free to churches. There’s no expense other than what Apple will take, you know, to set up a developer account, which is like 100 bucks a year, and most nonprofits can even get that back. So really there’s no cost to the church which is super exciting for us to offer and just get this out there to help people engage God’s word.


Dj Chuang:    That’s very generous of you and back to the Bible. And we want to get the word out. And so our audience, I’m sure there’s a number of church going people, as they’re interested in Bible and technology. And so it’s almost like a best kept secret. I mean, a thousand churches when there’s 300,000 in the US and certainly many more around the world. Let’s see if we can bump it up to 10,000.


Chris Davis:    Yes, we would love that. And, you know, we, we kind of put the brakes on you know, marketing and really reaching out to new churches as we are building this new platform. But we’re ready. So yes, bring it on. We’d love to see 10,000, 20,000 churches involved, and really, see movement of getting people into God’s word. So that would be fantastic. Yes and they can find it, you know, test it out, at goTandem, see what it’s like and if it’s a fit for their organization.


Dj Chuang:    And what’s the web address again?


Chris Davis:    Gotandem.com is the kind of the consumer product that we have. And if a church is interested in getting one for their own, they could go to backtothebible.org and go to the app section and fill out a form and we’d love to talk more to them about that.


Dj Chuang:    Fantastic. Super Awesome. So good of you and the ministry to offer this to churches and how you’re reaching people with Bible and the latest technology. So glad we could connect again, Chris. I know we have connected as well.


Chris Davis:    Yes, it was great chatting with you, Dj and hopefully our paths cross again soon.
Dj Chuang:    Yes. So if someone wanted to reach out to you personally, what’s the best way for them to do that?


Chris Davis:    They can find me on Twitter @crd55 or I’m on Instagram, just itschrisdavis and they can track me down through the backtothebible.org website as well.


Dj Chuang:    Very good.


Chris Davis:    Those are the places I play most online.


Dj Chuang:    Okay. And it’s great to see you again, Chris and thank you to our audience for listening and watching this episode of Future.Bible where we have conversations with innovators and technologists that are working to increase Bible engagement in this ever changing digital world. We’d love to hear from you. Just go to our website, www.future.bible and connect with us there. The links are there for Facebook and Twitter and you can use old class email too. And we want to really shape this, to serve you well and create this community, what are learning how to bring the Bible with technology into the 21st century. So, thank you for listening and remember to be a blessing.

HIGHLIGHTS:


01:18 Back to the Bible, started 80 years ago as a radio ministry out of Lincoln, Nebraska. And, we’re still on the radio and going strong there, but in the early 2000 you know, things began to shift, the radio wasn’t the best way to reach people anymore and there was a lot more happening online and we had established with the web, but really needed to think of new ways to meet people with our mission of engaging them with God’s word.

05:36 we’ve updated a favorite section of the app so that people can much like in Facebook, you know, favorite something, to make it come back to make it easier to come back and they can leave messages to themselves so they can be reminded of why they favorited that particular scripture.

08:16 As many different ways as people find things on the internet, they seem to stumble across goTandem, and in that, the APP platform that we have and so of of those, uh, that come in, uh, like I said, we have a brief assessment so we can kind of get some basic kind of, you know, a picture of who’s using the app. And we find about 40% are actually people that don’t claim to be Christians or believers in any kind of religion. And the most interesting thing is that they stick with it. We find they’re not just, you know, opening up and dropping off, but they’re, you know, reading, reading scripture as it comes to them. And, you know, hopefully, if we can get one, one more person to read the Bible that would never have cracked it, open you know, that’s a win.

And so, you know, in that, you know, about 40% are our non Christians. You know, we see a pretty even skew between men and women and across age ranges. It’s little younger you know, more in the 20s and 30s. But, you know, there’s still an active user base, even up into the 50s and 60s. So it’s pretty broad in its appeal and who it’s reaching in and who’s using it.

11:51 It’s actually, we offer it free to churches. There’s no expense other than what Apple will take, you know, to set up a developer account, which is like 100 bucks a year, and most nonprofits can even get that back. So really there’s no cost to the church which is super exciting for us to offer and just get this out there to help people engage God’s word.


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