I’ve recently been thinking about what happens after COVID-19. When the lockdown ends, how should churches and ministries help people connect with Jesus and His Word? Here are five brief thoughts about Bible engagement after COVID-19:
1. Building trust with people.
The pandemic has stirred up nervousness and anxiety. People are more concerned than usual about what they can or can’t do and who they can or can’t trust. Innate suspicions about the Bible may therefore increase. The big challenge on the backend of the virus will be to earn the trust of not-yet Christians. This won’t happen overnight. It will be mainly through building relational trust that we’ll get opportunities to share the Word.
2. Reconfiguring the presentation of the Bible.
Both community and technology need to be prioritized. After COVID-19, people will be looking to personalize truth through online means. The ways in which we invite participation and interaction with the Bible will be critical to successful connections being made. We must invite people to engage their character, identity and imagination with the Bible. As author Thomas Hohstadt suggests, to do this “We must risk transcending the environment we’re in … turning our backs on the pious paraphrases of the past … separating the mutable from the immutable.”
3. Interactive communities.
Interactivity will be highly valued after the pandemic, but with some social distancing. After COVID-19, we’ll be living in a new age of connectivity where we’ll network online in relationally interdependent frameworks in which there is a participatory flow of imaginative reason and metaphor. Strategies or approaches to Bible engagement after the pandemic should thus facilitate the means to invite and cultivate ways for individuals to interact with the Bible and each other as virtual communities.
4. New media or technology.
People need to get up close and personal with the Bible when they use new media or technology. We must continue exploring and creating innovative online ways to connect people with the Bible. Flexible use of time and space is required that will reach people anywhere, at any time, and every way. High-tech advancements are not an option, they’re a necessity. We must upgrade the technology harnessed to connect people during COVID-19 to facilitate easier, faster, immersive connections.
5. “To infinity … and beyond.”
Buzz Lightyear’s classic line, “To infinity … and beyond” reminds us that there are no limits. As germophobes and risk-averse people retreat to the safety of their homes, we must find ways to connect them effectively with the Scriptures. In the changed world after COVID-19 we’ll need to be smarter at how we engage people with the Bible. How can we enhance connectivity with God’s Story through virtual reality or other means? What methods will connect people living in an uncertain world with the certainty of the Word? While we don’t have all the answers, God will reveal them to us. So let’s explore every option for connecting people with Jesus and His Story.
© Scripture Union Canada 2020