As the UK stumbles back to its commonplace rhythms of pre-pandemic life - albeit with an improved hygiene etiquette, a greater sensitivity to crowds akin to claustrophobia, and perhaps sadly for some, the grief from losing a loved one to Covid-19, we mustn't forget how the loneliness of lockdown exposed both our need and longing for meaningful relationships and community.
The Bible confirms this perennial need. Humans are frankly not designed by God to be alone; we are utterly dependent on Him and on one another to multiply, cultivate, evolve, and thrive on the wonder of planet Earth as God commands in His Word and enables by His Spirit (Genesis 2; John 1:1-4). Everything in life, in some form or other, depends on people receiving and giving knowledge and care from God to one another (1 Corinthians 12:7).
Such interdependence between God and people is no different when it comes to studying the Bible. Perhaps the words 'Bible Study' fail to excite you and sound like hard work. But just think about it for a moment: God, the infinite and holy Creator and sustainer of physical and spiritual life, has provided an incredible, timeless means to personally relate to every finite and needy generation.
God has spoken majestically through the beauty and intricacy of creation; definitively through the life and resurrection of His Son, Jesus Christ; powerfully through His Holy Spirit; and precisely through His inspired words of Scripture, to His beloved Church, and for the world to know its Creator. What a genius, loving, and awe-inspiring idea - what else could we want? And no wonder Bible study requires work and studying together, for this is the sovereign God of the universe we're learning about!
We need God, we need one another, and we need the Spirit-powered words of the Bible to know, love, and persevere with God in community (Romans 14:7; Luke 10:27; Matt. 4:4); that's why I believe Bible study is best experienced with friends. When the UK government banned in-person interactions of every kind for seven whole weeks before gradually easing the restrictions, staying connected to God with others wasn't easy. The lockdown forced a reliance on technology upon every sector of British society to stay open and connected – particularly businesses, news outlets, and all kinds of community groups.
Yes, some people cannot wait to get back to face-to-face gatherings due to so- called "Zoom fatigue", but many others are actually preferring online technology to suit their busy lifestyles (like parents of young children, single parents, shift workers, or those who live a considerable distance from others). The convenience of online technology for our globalised, fast-paced world means not everyone is looking to rush back to the 'normal'.
In my view, the pandemic's acceleration of the 'internet of things' has therefore permanently changed community Bible study. In response to this unexpected and powerful shift, I am so excited by the growing impact of WordGo on community groups and families across the UK and Ireland and am eager to get it into your hands. WordGo is a new and free app from Bible Study Fellowship (BSF) intentionally designed to help you restart the art of Bible study and make it simple to run a group Bible study with your friends - online, in-person, or in a culmination of both.
I firmly believe - and enjoy from experience - that when God is front and centre, He creates community better than we can. So, as we climb out of lockdown and its impact on our mental and spiritual health, I invite you to put God in the centre of your circle with a little help from WordGo.
Simon Lennox is director of WordGo. Find out more at www.wordgo.org