JumpIntoTheWord

Bible Engagement Blog


Leave a comment

Bible Engagement After COVID-19

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

2 Corinthians 4:5


1 Comment

Inviting Non-Bible Readers to Read the Bible

How do we invite non-Bible readers to read the Bible? Here are six important things we need to think about and do:

Nurture trust. Some people are innately suspicious of the Bible but may consider reading it if they trust the person who shares the Story with them. Dan Kimball, in a discourse on speaking to emerging generations, says, “So our first big challenge . . . is to regain our voice by earning the trust of our hearers . . . teach the trustworthiness of Scripture” and not “by talking just one-way”.

Serve others. Jesus came among us as one who serves (cf. Luke 22:27). Coupled with the issue of trust is the problem of power and control. Christians should be servants of the world rather than its masters (cf. Luke 22:26). Actions speak louder than words. When Bible readers live the Story, non-Bible readers will be enticed to read the Story. In particular, Christian leaders should be seen to be compelled, not to build big churches or make names for themselves, but to look out for the poor, show compassion (cf. Isaiah 58:10) act justly, and walk humbly (cf. Micah 6:8).

Book

 

Cultivate interaction. Due to the electronic culture and the awareness that all communication is interactive, a two-way flow of information is encrypted into people’s brains. In what Leonard Sweet describes as “the Age of Participation” it is unlikely that non-Bible readers will read the Bible if we do not cultivate ways for them to interact with it. People need to be helped to connect with the Story in relationally interdependent frameworks where there is a participatory flow of imaginative reason and metaphor.

Communicate contextually. Our language has to be right. Non-Bible readers are unlikely to read the Bible if our syntax doesn’t fit with the culture. Communities of faith must share the Story in ways that address real issues in real time with appropriate symbols and prophetic metaphor delivered in a multisensory and user-friendly manner.

Build community. Reading, learning, and living out the Bible within the relational networks and presence of a Christian community is essential because people need the strength of friendships and the practices of a faith community to adequately overcome sin and lead transformed lives.

Use new media or technology. In addition to face to face interactive communities, screen to screen connexity is a vital component in cultivating Bible engagement. For effective Bible reading and reflection to occur, community has to be developed both in church gatherings and through the internet. Flexible use of time and space is required. We must harness media and technology to reach anyone, anywhere, anytime, and in every possible way.

Have your say. What would you add or subtract from the comments above?

© Scripture Union Canada 2014