As Christian churches in the west fret over the increasing numbers of young people who are leaving institutionalized religion, they have tried various ways to lure them back in. A novel idea is to produce a new Emoji Bible at the low, low price of $2.99
“Bible Emoji: Scripture 4 Millennials” was released Sunday in the iBooks store. It’s exactly what it sounds like: an adaptation of the King James Version of the Bible using internet slang and emoji, the adorable emoticons frequently used in text messages and tweets. Translated over the past six months by a person who identifies himself or herself only as the sunglasses-guy emoji, the objective of the emoji Bible is to make the text more appealing to people of various backgrounds and age groups.
“[Emoji are] language-agnostic — they allow you to convey an idea to anyone, regardless of what language they speak,” the creator told the Memo exclusively. “A major goal of this whole process was to take a book that I think is very non-approachable to lay readers and try to make it more approachable by removing a lot of its density.”
The 3,282-page emoji Bible includes interpretations of all 66 books in the Bible and advertises itself as a “fun way to share the gospel.” But it’s already causing controversy, pointing to a larger challenge facing modern Christians: How do you engage millennials without being cheesy?
I think the real problem is that these people think that young people are drawn to gimmicks. Sure, they use texts and emojis and all the other novelties that technology brings. But that does not mean that they are shallow and seek them out for when they want to discuss serious things and by trying to adopt these methods, the proponents may actually find they are repelling the very people they hope to attract.