"Not only do billions around the world now have access to the Bible online, and not only are many of them actually reading it, they're also actively engaging with the Word of God—and with one another in far flung virtual communities across the planet.
With these trends, the vocabulary of Bible dissemination is changing. For centuries, the buzzword was distribution, with a focus on quantity delivered. The new buzzword is engagement."
In this Christianity Today article, Robert Crosby examines Scripture engagement in the online world of smartphones, tablets and Facebook.
He points to four principles we can learn from online engagement:
Initiative: "Those who start simply, and simply start, rule the new roads."
Responsiveness: "The pulse of online Bible engagement is rapid response and connections."
Frequency: "To try repeatedly is vital in engaging people with Scripture online."
Saturation: "...a constant awareness of reaching broadly—that a small impact on one soul has the potential of reaching thousands more in a short span of time." [more...]
The JESUS Film Project is developing a Digital Media app to make all of the JESUS films and related videos (Magdalena, Children's version, short films, discipleship films, etc.) in all languages available via smartphone and tablet apps.
"As revolutionary as Bill Bright’s original vision was to reach the world through the university campus, so the new Digital Media app could have just as much potential to transform the world. Tens of millions of people in closed nations will be able to see and hear the gospel on their smartphones or video tablets in their heart language─no matter where they live or how dangerous it may be for Christians there. And people can link anyone to the app through Facebook, a blog or a Tweet with Twitter."
Here's an evaluation of the 2011 Biblefresh year in the UK, a nationwide campaign encouraging people to engage with the Bible:
"Biblefresh was a major initiative involving 120 partner organisations, a significant level of resources was invested in it, and its aims were ambitious. Therefore, it was deemed essential that there was a rigorously evaluated. The evaluation was conducted by Theos Think Tank and highly commends the initiative. Biblefresh successfully enabled a wide range of churches, agencies, organisations and colleges to focus on the Bible. Individuals felt that Biblefresh increased their enthusiasm for, and confidence in, the Bible. The report also highlights lessons that can be learnt for the future and reminds us that when it comes to engaging people with the Bible, there is still a lot more work to be done." (EA, 2012)
Producer: Viña Studios, Sololá, Guatemala, Central America
Deditos is a video Bible story series targeting children between the ages of 4 and 14. Considering the challenges faced by children throughout the two‐thirds world, the stories are carefully chosen to reveal God's character, his dealings with mankind, and his never‐ending desire that we draw closer to him.
Each episode includes:
- the Bible story dramatized in roughly 23 minutes with real‐life fingers as actors, incorporating a song the kids can learn;
- PDF files of five dynamic lessons based on the story, including print and audio versions of the teacher’s guide and pages with interactive activities for the children.
The complete Deditos series will include 21 stories with a major emphasis on the Old Testament. The videos are being produced originally in Spanish, in sets of three each year.
What is 'The Story'? It is both a book and a campaign.
The book is an abridged version of the NIV Bible, arranging the Biblical narrative in chronological order in 31 chapters. Bridging paragraphs with some explanation are included between the selections of Bible text. There are no verse numbers. A few psalms appear in the chapter on David's life, and Proverbs in the chapter on Solomon. Extracts from Paul's letters appear in the chapter of stories from the book of Acts.
As well as the main version of the book designed for adults, there are also versions for teens and for different ages of children (2-5s, 4-8s, 9-12s).
The campaign is a call for churches to take up 'The Story' as a journey through the Bible for all ages - to encourage people to grasp the Bible narrative and how the different parts of the Bible fit together. There are teaching notes for pastors and group leaders as well as video clips. This could be a 31-week series to go through the whole Story, or churches could adapt parts of it according to their needs.
One of the challenges of producing an abridged Bible is to know which passages to include and which to leave out. Not everyone will agree on the choices made. For example, The Story misses out the Tower of Babel. It would be interesting to compare different panoramic/abridged Bible products as to the decisions they have made. [more...]
h+ is a new 10-week course from the Bible Society in the UK to help believers make good sense of the Bible. It's an introduction to the 'how?' questions of interpreting Scripture - a course in Biblical hermeneutics for everyone.
h+ has been developed in response to an erosion of confidence in the Bible in British society and the need for Christians to understand how to interpret the Scriptures. It aims to give believers the tools to discover the meaning of the text and to make connections with our 21st century context, equipping workers who do not need to be ashamed but who correctly handle the Word of truth (2 Tim. 2:15). The goal is to encourage a renewed passion for the Bible and a renewed confidence to share it in a hostile world.
A unique aspect of the course is its emphasis on 8 key Christian virtues we need to rediscover in order to make good sense of the Scriptures: perseverance, confidence, honesty, faithfulness, humility, courage, openness and community.
There is a Facilitator's guide, a Participant's handbook and a DVD of powerpoint presentations and videos. In order to run the course, facilitators need to attend a training workshop. More details are available on the Bible Society's h+ website. [more...]
"So a bigger vision of Bible engagement is not just that more individual Christians will form a Bible reading habit. That’s a critical first step. A bigger vision is that more groups of Christians, of all denominations, will begin reading and living God’s Word together, and as a result, the Church will be renewed and relevant for a new generation."
Reflecting on what he's learned from the E100 programme, SU President Whitney Kuniholm, asks "How can you get 'average Christians' to start and maintain a regular Bible reading habit?"
He suggests seven key elements, 'the essential architecture', to pastors and church leaders:
- Take Spiritual Leadership
- Make it a community experience
- Use habit-formation principles
- Affirm a variety of devotional methods
- Have a flexible format
- Follow a unifying theme
- Offer a follow-up plan…from the beginning
In conclusion, the author observes that: "When people begin reading and applying God’s Word together, a spiritual power is unleashed that can dramatically transform individual lives and entire churches." [more...]
This survey of British people's knowledge and use of the Bible was carried out in streets and shopping centres across England and Wales.
Here are some of the findings:
- 75% said that they owned a Bible, 46% of these owned a traditional Bible, 18% a modern version and 36% said that they owned both a modern and a traditional version.
- 18% said that they had read the Bible in the last week. 31% said the Bible was significant in their lives now. 47% said the Bible was never significant to them.
- Even if the information about Bible reading habits is a little gloomy, knowledge about core details of the Christian faith and some of the central Biblical figures are better.
- About 80% of those surveyed had some knowledge about the crucifixion and resurrection of Jesus. However, knowledge about some essential stories is being lost, especially Old Testament stories.
The survey briefing concludes: "...the masses have been persuaded that the Bible cannot be understood without someone else coming to interpret it or indeed make it more simple – to broker the Bible. Once again, we are offered the stark reality of a people who have been robbed of their Bible, robbed of the words of life by elitism and clericalism. For Biblical Literacy to make an impact of some kind, we need to re-engage the masses with their Bible, to return it to the people: we need a New Reformation!" [more...]
Published as part of Uncover the Word, "this April 2011 research contains findings from a nationwide study commissioned by American Bible Society and conducted by Barna Research. The study documents responses taken from U.S. adults 18 years of age and older, and categorizes them to highlight essentially four different groups and their feelings with regard to the authority and relevance of the Bible: 1) Engaged, 2) Friendly – Moderate, 3) Friendly – Light, and 4) Antagonistic."
"Lack of time" was noted as a primary deterrent for every single group. Sometimes this response can be more symptomatic than causal; humans find time for things that are high priorities. Still, people can believe in the Bible and want to read more, but don't have the personal bandwidth.
The survey hones in on the perceptions, misperceptions, Biblical confidence and format preference of each group. There is a helpful conclusion section, with recommendations for encouraging Scripture Engagement among people in each of the four categories. [more...]
A presentation given at the Mobile Ministry Forum Consultation in December 2011, highlighting 7 key trends in the mobile space:
- Saturation - It is projected that we'll reach 7 billion mobile phone subscriptions in 2012. That doesn't mean everyone will have a phone, but most will have access, whether with their own phone or through friends and family. In 2011, there were 1 billion mobile broadband subscriptions. 2 billion smartphones are predicted for 2015.
- Mini Tablets/e-Readers - These are becoming more affordable, such as the $60 tablets being developed in India for school children.
- Operating Systems - Android sales are increasing, although a large proportion of current phones run on Symbian.
- Content - New content repositories are being created, such as REAP (SIL), ETEN (Every Tribe Every Nation), TWR's Linguablast and LinguaDMS.
- Facebook - Facebook is expected to reach 1 billion users in 2012.
- Engagement - There's a desire to encourage and measure engagement with content. It's estimated that 90% users read/watch content, 9% interact with it (e.g. comment/like/share), and 1% create new content.
- Security - Complete anonymity doesn't exist. There is an increased ability to monitor people's mobile use. Sharing SD cards and bluetooth transfers are safer in sensitive situations. Some countries are trying to phase out anonymous SIM cards, requiring people to register.
Watch the video in Vimeo... [more...]