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If kids won't go to the Bible, how can we make the Bible go to them?
Thursday, July 20, 2017, 15:33 (IST)
If kids won't go to the Bible any more, here's how to make the Bible go to them.
Rather than fighting the trend which sees young people glued to their phones, Scripture Union is celebrating the success of an app that capitalises on the use of phones by youngsters and is making thousands of them want to know more about Jesus.
The award-winning Christian app, Guardians of Ancora, has reached the one million game plays mark, making it one of the most successful Bible apps of all time.
The success of Scripture Union's app, approaching its second anniverary, highlights the importance of digital engagement of the Bible, particularly at a time when so many children and young adults are drifting from faith and from the church.
Scripture Union is concerned that children and young people are under growing pressure to adopt secular values, with fewer than one in 20 having any regular contact with church.
And all too often, churches themselves are forced to focus on maintenance rather than mission: 39 per cent of churches now have no under 11s; 49 per cent have no 11 to 14s and 59 per cent have no 14 to 18s in their membership.
However, in a recent US study by Barna Research, The Bible in America, it was clear that the younger the demographic, the more likely individuals were to engage with the Bible through Apps and digital technology - 62 per cent of Millennials used smartphone apps to access the Bible, compared with 7 per cent of Elders.
In another Barna study, Transforming Scotland, it was found that the younger respondents who would call themselves Christians also had a higher view of scripture than those in the older demographics.
Based on similar research, Scripture Union commissioned the Guardians of Ancora project to introduce children to Jesus, specifically in the digital space.
The game has been developed for children aged 8 to 11 years old and the organisation says there is also now real evidence that children who start with little or no interest in God are becoming more positive towards him and the Bible, which is at the very heart of the mission of Scripture Union.
The game includes 11 Quests, 22 quizzes, over 100 videos and 40 audio stories. Since it's launch more than 60,000 prayers have been posted in the creative hub, showing a real desire for the children using the game to pray and 52 per cent of children playing the game for two weeks or more have said the game has made them more interested in learning about Jesus.
Terry Clutterham, digital discovery director for Scripture Union, says, 'We are absolutely delighted to meet this significant milestone so quickly. However we are not resting on our laurels, we plan to accelerate this growth both in the UK and around the world by making it possible to have additional languages in Europe, South America and the Far East.
'Children love the game for its fun, parkour elements and the fact they can customise their own characters and fully immerse themselves in the game. We are delighted it has been so warmly received by so many children.'
Just as projects such as VeggieTales and going way back, McGee and Me have done in the past, Guardians of Ancora has created an environment which is familiar to children who have played computer games all their lives, speaking their language and presenting quality graphics, but in addition integrating seamlessly the biblical narrative to provide an engaging and fun experience.
Children from as diverse locations as Iran, Indonesia, Canada, South Africa and Australia have been playing the game, engaging with the characters and learning about the Bible in a fun and educational environment.
The dynamism of the gameplay, including parkour elements, where characters jump, run and fly between buildings and other spaces has contributed to the game beating industry averages of player engagement, with 23 per cent of players returning to play the game again after 2 weeks of playing - compared with 15 per cent across the rest of the industry. Recently, the first ever non-English version of the App being launched in Welsh.
To download the App go to the Apple App Store, Kindle Amazon Store or Google Play and search for Guardians of Ancora.