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Celebrating an Online Bible Legacy: Bible Gatewayby Rachel Barach, general manager, Bible Gateway
Venture back in time to the year 1993. Bill Clinton was inaugurated as the 42nd President of the United States. The Dallas Cowboys won the Super Bowl. Women were granted combat roles in the US military. The final episode of “Cheers” aired. Michael Jordan retired from basketball to play minor league baseball, then quit baseball and went back to the hoops court. The Mosaic Web browser launched, representing a major turning point in the Internet’s journey toward wide-scale consumer acceptance. And, topping the news in 1993, The Bible Gateway, a fledgling idea in the mind of a university staffer, launched as an internal research tool for university students.
The Internet’s takeover of modern communications and culture has been rapid and unparalleled. In 1993, the Internet, truly in it’s youth from a consumer perspective, accounted for only 1% of telecommunications information flow. By 2007, 97% of telecommunications information flow was Internet-based.
Today, in the center of the information deluge flowing on the Web, sits BibleGateway.com (@BibleGateway), the most-visited Christian website in the world; home to more than 200 different Bible translations in more than 70 languages (https://BibleGateway.com/Versions); and a trusted resource for more than 20 million people each month.
Bible Gateway History
In 1993, Bible Gateway wasn’t yet truly public. It was a simple database tool built by Nick Hengeveld, a staffer at Calvin College in Grand Rapids, Michigan, as a resource for other Calvin faculty, staff, and students to use. He wanted to employ technology to make it easy to quickly look up and read Bible text. The idea clearly had merit, because by 1995, BibleGateway.com was publicly accessible and had already begun amassing its loyal following. When Hengeveld went to work for Gospel Communications, he took Bible Gateway with him, and he and the Gospel Communications team continued adding to the site’s content and functionality, always with the mission of enabling easy and free access to Scripture.
Over time, and as a part of the Gospel Communications focus on technology in ministry, Bible Gateway faced and surmounted numerous challenges and changes: the evolution of devices, browsers, connectivity and consumer behavior, the rise and fall of myriad start-ups, and the growth of multiple Bible sites in the Christian marketplace. Through it all, Bible Gateway never strayed from its core mission. It became trusted as the premier place online to find any Bible verse, in a multitude of languages and translations, in text or audio, for any student of the Bible, curious onlooker, or researcher just looking for a quote.In 2008, Gospel Communications shuttered its operations and sold Bible Gateway to Zondervan, the Christian publishing house. At that time, the site had grown from just a few student users to more than six million unique visitors per month. Today, Bible Gateway is the most-visited Christian website in the world with more than 140-150 million views per month. In addition to the complete text of the Bible (including the Apocrypha), the website also offers more than 60 devotionals and reading plans (https://BibleGateway.com/Newsletters), and its award-winning and critically-acclaimed Bible Gateway App for the iPhone, iPad, and Android devices (https://BibleGateway.com/App).
The future of Bible Gateway is a thrilling unknown, certain to be impacted by ongoing upheavals in technology and consumer behavior. As we strive to understand and respond to those changes that we can’t yet see, a few key objectives stand out as unchanging, no matter what kind of device the visitor is holding:
On the strong foundation and rich legacy that has been laid for Bible Gateway in its first 20 years, we will continue building a premier Internet Bible resource that seeks to honor God and inspire people to know him better through his Word.
Bible Gateway Visitor Testimonials:
“I love Bible Gateway for many reasons—so many version choices! Also, wonderfully user friendly; so many websites are not, which can be frustrating and time consuming. May the LORD bless you all abundantly.” – Joyce
“Over the past 20 years I have been a regular in Christian chat rooms. I have been called upon again and again to use bible gateway to prove my positions or statements biblically and in context. I have used biblegateway probably thousands of times. I have been using your website for as long as it has been alive, as we are kind of like cyber missionaries…What is mandatory in any chat room is the ability to look up and refute or confirm doctrine on the fly. You never know what the subject will be but if you have a working knowledge of the Bible, Bible Gateway's search engine is a very valuable tool. Thank you for this service.” – Marion Head
“Dear Bible Gateway: I want to thank you for your Internet ministry. You have been (and continue to be) a blessing to me and my life. I discovered you a few years ago and often have listened to the Holy Scriptures pour life into me—even as I drift asleep.” – Tonyelle
“I've been reading from Bible Gateway for a few years. I couldn't afford to buy the audio Bible, I'm on SS. However, I'm now listening on Bible Gateway and so enjoying it so very much. I listened the other day from Acts to Revelation. Now started in Genesis. Thank you so much for making this available. God is so good. Thank you, thank you, thank you.” – Anonymous
“I would like to thank you for your daily verse. I have been saved from a drug and alcohol addiction. I am putting my faith in God, I am clean and sober today.” – Anonymous