To combat the trend of decreasing Bible engagement amid the COVID-19 lockdowns, Bible Study Fellowship has created a new app that offers ready-made Bible studies for those looking to increase their spiritual fitness and study Scripture, either physically or virtually, with those in their communities.
Launched late last year, the free WordGo app offers a COVID-safe solution for Christian communities worldwide, providing 13 courses, innovative learning plans, trusted commentary, planning tools, and a variety of study guides.
In an interview with The Christian Post, Simon Lennox, director of WordGo, explained that app creators wanted to take the Bible Study Fellowship four-fold approach to studying Scripture and move it to the digital space, creating a way for people to start a small group Bible study resourced with BSF materials.
“BSF is such a wonderful organization that has been around for decades and is ruthlessly focused on helping people study the Bible for themselves,” he said. “But what it needed to do was find a way to connect with the next generation as well as the existing ones, especially by embracing digital technology and finding new ways to help people engage with the Bible.”
“The goal of WordGo is to give the individual everything they need to develop a regular rhythm of Bible study, whether they're starting up for the first time or have been studying for many years,” he said.
Thanks to the various components the app offers, WordGo allows users to customize their experience to train in spiritual fitness, a biblical concept taken from 1 Timothy 4:8 that speaks of “training in godliness.”
“That concept of spiritual training, making God at the center of your life, is at the very heart of WordGo,” Lennox said. “You can have the Bible and a bunch of commentaries given to you, but what do you do with it? We're really seeking to bring people on that journey of training in godliness."
With its focus on community study, WordGo offers a way for individuals to study the Bible together, helping combat challenges associated with the pandemic like anxiety, loneliness, and depression.
“We want to meet people where they're at when it comes to reading Scripture and take them on a journey. There's no better way to journey than with others, so we emphasize both the individual component and the community component,” he said.
“We've all been isolated and away from our church families, away from the Sunday morning experience and other groupings during the week,” Lennox emphasized. “That has brought all sorts of very difficult challenges, but also new ideas.”
The pandemic has “positively brought us back to the core of the Christian faith and what the Bible has to say,” he said, as well as challenged churches to “adapt quickly” — and some of these changes will be permanent.
“How we do things going forward has got to change because more and more people now are getting a bit more comfortable with the online experience,” he said to CP. “We need to figure out how to get to know God more, how to do community, how to serve the local community, how to love each other in this space that is becoming a bit more digitized.”
Numerous studies have documented how Christians' faith has been impacted by the virus and the ongoing lockdowns.
Statistics show that in the year since COVID-19 shelter-in-place orders were first enacted, forcing churches around the world to close their doors, Bible engagement has dropped significantly, revealing a correlation between church attendance and Bible engagement.
The American Bible Society found that in January, 49% of Bible users in the United States were part of a community of faith where they could explore and talk about spiritual topics. By June, that number had dropped to 39%.
The app is already meeting needs, Lennox said. He revealed that since its launch in March 2020, WordGo has seen 200,000 downloads — and app downloads almost doubled from December 2020 to January 2021.
The app sees an average of around 20,000 active users per month, and over 12,000 people have signed up and started new Bible study plans since the Bible study component was added in December.
Though the majority of users are women, an increasing number of men have started to download and use the app as well. Amid the pandemic, the most popular courses among WordGo users focused on the book of Ruth and John 1-3, Lennox said.
“The activity has been so encouraging,” he added, noting that WordGo creators are also working with church leaders to learn how to best integrate the app into community life.
“It’s been an exciting project,” Lennox said. “We’ve been delighted that WordGo came at it at a time like this. We didn't expect the pandemic, like most people, yet we're hearing wonderful stories across the U.S. and the world of people using it to stay connected with God and one another.”
As the pandemic continues to linger and churches grapple with how to best meet the needs of their communities, Lennox said he hopes WordGo operates as a “contribution to the Church to help the Body of Christ stay connected with God by staying in His Word."
“We hope this will help churches and individuals become spiritually fit as they navigate all the challenges ahead of them,” he said.
The free WordGo app is now available in the app store.