In a serene corner of Portland, a small animation studio is changing how millions worldwide interact with the Bible.
Started by college friends, BibleProject has become a unique initiative making it easier for people to understand the Bible.
The brainchild of Tim Mackie and Jon Collins, childhood friends turned collaborators, BibleProject started as a modest experiment in 2014. Armed with a passion for making the Bible more comprehensible, the duo created two animated videos, initially intended for their circle of friends.
Fast forward less than a decade, and BibleProject has exploded into a global phenomenon, boasting over 180 videos and 350 podcast episodes. The internet platform has garnered a staggering 620 million views in more than 200 countries, amassing a dedicated following of over five million subscribers. Even more impressively, BibleProject has evolved beyond mere animations, offering seminary-level classes to its enthusiastic audience.
Michael McDonald, Chief Global Focus and Strategic Relationships Officer at BibleProject, reflected on the unexpected success, stating, “None of us were smart enough to think we would create this big nonprofit out of this. This really was a passion project of two friends who thought, ‘I think this would be helpful to not only just us, but some of our friends.'”
Both Mackie and Collins, with backgrounds in Bible college and pastoral work, brought a unique blend of expertise to the project. The fusion of Mackie’s in-depth knowledge of the Hebrew Bible and Jewish studies, coupled with Collins’ creative prowess honed in making explainer videos for major corporations, birthed a dynamic synergy.
Detailing their process, Collins, sketching on a giant whiteboard, shared, “This is just basically our workflow for one of our fully animated videos. So, some products are in illustration, some are in animation, some are in writing, some are in storyboarding.”
Mackie added, “Then I meet with the artist and we go through all this in detail. And then the artist goes and draws a beautiful version. So, by the time I sit down to record, I’ve got this in my head and every line and all the wording is connected.”
BibleProject’s mission is to demystify the Bible, especially tackling those challenging passages that often leave readers perplexed or uneasy. McDonald emphasized their impact, noting, “It’s pretty neat to see kids from like the age of ten who are even writing in saying just how engaged they are in the Scriptures.”
With content now available in 56 languages, BibleProject has transcended cultural and linguistic barriers. McDonald highlighted the unexpected outreach, sharing, “And so you find people in Tunisia watching the Arabic videos and sending in comments of, ‘I’m a Muslim who has been interested in the Bible, and I didn’t know how to engage it or read it.'”
What began as an experiment intended for a select few friends has transformed into a global force shaping how millions perceive and understand the Bible. Collins summarized the broader impact, saying, “One thing we think God is doing is that He’s helping people see the Bible as a really important part of their life.”
BibleProject’s contribution lies in fostering an appreciation for the Bible’s literary design, understanding it as a compelling story, and recognizing how that narrative ultimately points to Jesus.
As they continue to expand their reach, this Portland-based animation studio is on a mission to make the timeless wisdom of the Bible accessible to all, from curious children to those seeking fresh perspectives at the age of 85.