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Word 2020

Bible 2020 is an innovative Bible reading programme which enables people to engage with the Bible alongside thousands of others; through a very slick smart-phone app. Bible reading programmes have been around for hundreds of years, and huge numbers of people have used them with varying degrees of success.

Bible 2020 though contains some unique features, which make it stand out. The first is that the readings are not too long; encouraging the reader to think about what they are reading, rather than rush through vast amounts of text. What really makes Word 2020 stand out though is the free smart-phone app. The app doesn’t just contain the day’s reading, but also features recordings of thousands of people who have read it outloud and uploaded a recording of it to the site. You can then do the same – if you want to, and have your face and voice added to the thousands of others reading God’s word aloud. The fact that the app is being used in 99 different countries, and is accessible in over a thousand languages is apparent in the submitted videos. So far there are 11,000  users who have uploaded 5,800 videos.

Elaine Duncan, Chief Executive of the Scottish Bible Society, the organisation who developed Bible 2020, commented on the importance of reading the Bible aloud. “There’s something significant about reading and proclaiming the word of God” she said. “The Bible was, of course, primarily communicated orally for most of its history, before the printing press and mass literacy. What we observe is that whereas silent reading of scripture can be rushed; oral proclamation takes time, demands expression, and helps the reader to internalise the meaning.”

An exciting development has been the number of people who have decided to take up the challenge of reading the Bible aloud – publicly. Users of the app, can watch the videos that these folk have posted up from café’s, trains, parks, streets, shops and buses. Elaine Duncan says she was challenged by these folk to join in the public reading of scripture, on the train on her daily commute. Since then, some of her regular travelling companions on the train, who aren’t Christians – have joined in one or two of the readings. One she recalls, read from Isaiah extremely loudly, so that half the carriage could hear, before uploading the recording of it through the app. Look out too for passers-by photo-bombing the Bible-readers in mid-flow!

“I was initially really anxious about reading the Bible out loud, in public!” Elaine says – perhaps unsurprisingly. Then continues, “But what might God do, if people all over the world openly proclaimed His word?”

Bible 2020 was an idea born in Edinburgh, as a project for Scottish churches; but as Bible Societies around the world expressed an interest, the momentum became unstoppable. The Scottish Bible Society were delighted to share the idea and the software with their partners – and the project went global. One housebound Bible 2020 reader in Scotland said that the project was a “lifeline”, not just in terms of connecting her to the text – but through the video wall making her connected to the global church. Other readers are doing it as families, and taking turns in posting videos to the wall.

The free app is available from Google Play and the Apple store, look for the logo and download and join in. More details are available at https://linktr.ee/bible_2020. The readings videos only last a day, and this project is initially running until the end of the year. Reading the Bible is hugely rewarding, and Bible 2020 makes it just that bit more accessible and easy to do.