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Can a conversation be too big?
So let me get this right. This Lent there will be people in their homegroups not only doing “homegroupy” type things, but also venturing out into the virtual world like astronauts leaving the mother ship? In addition to the usual printed materials which we have come to expect from homegroup studies, there will be online videos and podcasts and discussion forums and internet chats and..?
The answer to all the above is “yes”. This year the Big Read offers people the chance not just to interact within their homegroup, but to contribute to a wider conversation which can be accessed anywhere in the world by anyone with a computer. Instead of talking about encouraging an overseas missionary, for example, you could send them an email direct from your group. Maybe the following week they could skype you back by way of a thank you. The possibilities are enormous.
In addition to all this interactivity, there will be an ongoing Twitter chat about the issues raised by the Big Read on @chatbible . Each day throughout Lent there will be a pithy discussion based around the relevant sections of Matthew’s Gospel. The 140 characters should keep the comments short and sweet, but they can still pack a punch. Neil Armstrong’s famous lunar quote (13.mp3) was only 50 characters long , but no-one seems to feel it was lacking in value!
Some may feel this is one more step on the slippery slope to a kind of hyperinteractivity. However, the sobering fact is this. Although people are talking at length about the linguistic heritage of the Bible in the English language, there is a danger that it becomes little more than a piece of heritage – like a stately home or a love letter preserved behind glass. We cannot afford to do this – which is why we must embrace these Twenty-First Century media to encourage a wholehearted debate about a book whose pages we regard as sacred.
Join in the debate somewhere, somehow – on Twitter, on a forum, in a homegroup. Be part of a big Bible conversation – it will be poorer without you.
Coming up next week will be an exciting announcement about a new partnership between @chatbible and @bigbible. Together they will be contributing to the most media-rich, interactive and borderless homegroup bible study that most of us have ever seen.
In the meantime, here is an introduction from Rev Dr Tom Wright, just to whet your appetite…