As Latter-day Saints begin studying the Old Testament churchwide this year as part of the faith’s “Come, Follow Me” curriculum, one nonprofit organization has created an app to help members establish a daily pattern of scripture study.
Why it matters
Members of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints study each of the standard works (Old Testament, New Testament, Book of Mormon, Doctrine and Covenants) on a four-year rotating basis. This year they are focused on the Old Testament.
The Come Follow Me app is a free tool intended as a supportive, supplemental resource to assist Latter-day Saints in forming a meaningful and long-lasting habit of studying the scriptures each day, especially individuals and families who have struggled in the past, said Evan Fitzpatrick, one of the app’s co-founders.
“We’re trying to help people get from zero minutes a day in the scriptures to 5-10 minutes in the scriptures, and having that be a consistently uplifting and positive experience, one that helps them feel the spirit and connected to God, as well as connect with their family and facilitate good gospel discussions,” Fitzpatrick said.
The Come Follow Me app is not an official app of the church.
How it works
Developers believe the Come Follow Me app will help transform the intimidating Old Testament — the thickest volume of scripture among the standard works — into manageable, “bite-sized content” as Latter-day Saints engage in personal study.
“All of our content is focused on helping make the scriptures relevant in people’s lives today,” Fitzpatrick said.
Here are five features designed to help individuals and families find time for worthwhile daily scripture study.
- The “Verse of the Day” is the app’s most popular feature and provides users with an interactive, five-minute Sunday school class-like experience. Users read a verse of scripture, watch a short video of a person sharing personal thoughts and insights on the verse, then the user is presented with a short list of ideas to consider for applying the message to their life, along with options to go deeper and learn more.
- The app provides devotional plans for adults, teens and children. These offer ready-made short scriptural experiences that are convenient for parents to use with children.
- There is a whole industry of groups and people that provide similar services. The app gives users a centralized library for all “Come Follow Me” online resources for adults and kids, whether produced by the church or other third parties, including podcasts, YouTube channels and other online materials. The list includes “Don’t Miss This” with Emily Belle Freeman and David Butler; Book of Mormon Central Come Follow Me Insights; “Follow Him” with Hank Smith and John Bytheway; Latter-day Kids; Line Upon Line for Come Follow Me, among many others.
- The app features a journal for the user to record and save insights, impressions and thoughts.
- Each day the app will track a user’s statistics — total days read, current daily streak and more — as a way to motivate the user to never miss a day of gospel study. Notifications provide daily reminders.
Different faith perspectives
As part of the “Verse of the Day,” the Come Follow Me app has a rotating network of 70 Latter-day Saints who create videos of themselves talking about an assigned scripture. Most of these video presenters are ordinary church members, although the list does include former leaders such as Joy D. Jones (served as Primary general president from 2016-2021), Susan W. Tanner (served as Young Women general president from 2002-2008), and Elder Tad R. Callister (served as a General Authority Seventy and as Sunday School general president from 2014-2019), as well as a few BYU professors.
This year the app will also feature some non-Latter-day Saint presenters, including members of other Christian and Jewish faiths.
“This is a way to see how the Old Testament really is this foundational book of scripture that brings together a very large community of believers and children of Abraham,” Fitzpatrick said.
How and when it launched
The Come Follow Me app was developed and launched by the Come Follow Me Foundation, a nonprofit organization, in July 2021. Since then the app has received close to 160,000 downloads.
The idea originally started with Fitzpatrick and his wife, “average members of the church who are just trying to raise our kids in the gospel” and who “really struggled with daily scripture study,” he said.
After years of frustration, Fitzpatrick decided to approach the problem as he would a professional project. He looked at every Christian app, workbook, YouTube channel and podcast he could find. He eventually discovered the YouVersion Bible app, a scriptural tool installed on more than 500 million unique devices worldwide, according to its website.
“In using that tool, I became convinced that something like this needed to exist for the church,” Fitzpatrick said. “And something like this would solve my own family’s scripture study problem.”
Fitzpatrick was quick to say the creation of the Come Follow Me app has been a tremendous team effort. He credited co-founders Brian Crofts and James Moore with working tirelessly on the app, along with Sheree Nixon, the foundation’s executive director, and many others who have made valuable contributions.
Users may donate to the foundation with 100% of the proceeds going to support the app.
What reviewers are saying
The Come Follow Me app has a rating of 4.9 out of 5 stars in the Apple Store. The app is resonating with users, as evidenced by the comments.
- “This daily dose of the spirit works into any schedule. There’s a balance of scripture, response and thoughtful questions. If you have gotten out of the habit of scripture study this is a great first step,” one person wrote in a review.
- “Thank you so much for the thought, prayer and time put into creating this resource to help those of us trying to create habits of studying the scriptures individually and as a family,” another user wrote. “This app makes it doable in whatever way needed for the individual. It can be as simple or deep as suits the ability and need of the individual. Thank you!”
- “This app is a life changer! I’ve shared this app with so many people,” wrote another user. “There is only one thing I can think of to make it even better — provide the option for audio so people can hear the message as well as read it. ... Until then, it’s still my absolute #1 go-to app for scripture study!”