In Christianity Today
, I read an article, by David Roach, entitled “Bible Reading Drops During Social Distancing” which provides research-based evidence that daily Bible reading “worsened during the pandemic.” The American Bible Society (ABS) believes “church closures during the pandemic likely impacted the decrease in Bible engagement, but research clarifies “the COVID-19 pandemic is shifting Americans’ Bible engagement, with many who are socially distanced from their spiritual communities turning to Scripture less.” Even at APC, the number of views for online worship services has decreased from the beginning of pandemic.
The director of ministry intelligence for ABS proposes “to increase Scripture engagement, we must increase relational connections with one another through the church.” The pandemic and evidence from a recent survey “have shown that when relational church engagement goes up, so does Scripture engagement, but when it goes down, Scripture engagement drops with it.” APC recognizes the importance of relational and Scriptural engagements, especially during this pandemic, and offers virtual group connection opportunities that include small group Bible studies, a centering prayer group, a book club, and a special online Sunday School series.
Participating in Christian group activities can offer a safe environment to teach and to learn, to strengthen spiritual growth, to build discipleship, and to personalize Christian fellowship. It can also provide a space to ask questions and to rediscover God’s love. In April and May of this year, a group of seventeen completed the 40-Day New Testament Reading Challenge. Presently, a group of people are participating in the 100-Day Old Testament Reading Challenge. Group activities like these are not only crucial for relational engagement and personal growth but also for spiritual transformation that benefits both APC and communities outside its walls.
According to Psalm 100:3, “…we are [God’s] people and the sheep of [God’s] pasture.” Just as sheep use their natural herding instinct to band together, so do we instinctively band together as a community of believers. Just like sheep of a herd are less likely to be devoured by predators, so are we less likely to be destroyed by predators because Matthew 18:20 declares “For where two or three are gathered in [Jesus’s] name, [he is] there among them.”
Do you feel isolated? There are blessings in a community of believers. If you are interested in becoming a part of a small group, reach out to one of the pastors or small group leaders listed on the church website. We will help you get connected to one of our small groups so that you can experience a “safety net” support in this difficult time.