"Make a big effort to understand the full meaning of the text... Try to put yourself in the shoes of your character. Think of their character, their temperament, their behaviour. What do they like? What don’t they like?"
This is a list of advice for narrators and actors working on audio products for promoting Scripture Engagement. These could be dramatised Bible portions or Scripture relevance dramas.
The advice comes from a drama team with many years of experience in producing radio programmes in West Africa. [more...]
The choice of medium can make a difference, and better artistic quality enhances any communication. However, the most important quality is how relevant the message seems to be to the lives of its hearers. If a hearer (or reader or viewer) thinks the message can make an important difference in his life, he will make an effort to listen, even if the quality is poor. Conversely, if he thinks it says nothing personally relevant, he will ignore even the best presented message. This principle of personal relevance is critical to communication.
Wayne Dye expands upon his third condition for Scripture Engagement:
Accessible forms: People are able to read the Scriptures or hear them from others or by listening to electronic media.
The article describes different ways of making the Scriptures more accessible: storying, literacy, local performing and visual arts, audio recordings, cell phones and video. [more...]
The issue of non-readers is an issue for all countries, as we see reading declining even in countries with high literacy rates. It has been estimated that in some African countries printed scripture only reaches around ten percent of the population. The challenge is therefore to develop translations that are relevant to the media, productions that are appropriate, and distribution systems for scripture that reach the non-reading population.
Viggo Søgaard argues for the kinds of Bible translation needed for non-reading populations, conforming to "the rules and requirements of spoken rather than written language". He describes the differences between oral and written communication and highlights some of the areas translators need to pay attention to when producing translations for audio media (emphasis, direct speech, intonation, context information). [more...]
Pilot programs have clearly shown that extensive word and concept explanations are often needed if a non-Christian is to understand the written text as read on a cassette. The explanations will need to be provided in a format that is appropriate to both the medium and the listening context. It may be... a dramatic series of daily readings, presented in the context of a village family, and a narrator who will provide the necessary help with background information so that the listeners can place the text in its geographical and cultural context.
Although written before much of the revolution in digital media, this book provides a lot of useful strategic input for those involved in media and Scripture Engagement.
It is divided into three sections:
- Foundational principles for use of media in church and mission – Biblical principles, communication models, research methods.
- Selected media descriptions – chapters on television, radio, video, audio cassettes, print, film, music, painting & dance-drama, computers
- Practical guidelines for media in church and mission – strategy, planning, production, testing, distribution, evaluation.
Oral-Scripture in Africa is the highest potential medium of outreach for the salvation message on the continent today and into the 21st century. This is because it is capable of reaching both the literate and the teeming millions of non-literate people.
Dr. Gilbert Ansre (who served for 15 years as a UBS translation consultant) examines the literacy rates in countries in Africa, observing that:
1. Not all people who claim they can read actually can do so.
2. Not all who can read actually do read.
3. Not all who actually read do read well.
4. Not all who read well do actually read Scripture.
5. Not all who read the Scripture do so regularly.
Faced with these realities, Ansre outlines some of the responses made by the Bible Societies in Africa in the 1990s, including:
9. They confess that they have hitherto failed to emphasize Scripture use and call on all concerned to promote it vigorously.
10. Aware of the great potential in audio-media, they prayerfully dedicate themselves to support its promotion.
Need orientation is very important for audio-Scriptures and with that follows careful research of the intended audience. When the apostle Paul spoke in a synagogue, he could freely quote from the Old Testament, but when he taught the Gentiles in Athens he had to begin with the concept of God. Similarly, our audio-Scriptures need to be prepared for specific audiences and associated materials need to be made so that the audience can understand.
Viggo Søgaard describes how audio Scriptures saw a slow but steady acceptance from the 1970s onwards, as people saw the need for something more than printed Bibles. He charts the work of early pioneers like Dr. Harvey Hoekstra and of ministries to provide audio Scriptures for the blind.
The author offers a series of challenges to the church in the promotion of the Bible in audio. For example: [more...]
Renew World Outreach's mission is to assist missionaries and mission organizations with portable audio/visual tools to help reach the unreached nations of the world.
Their products include the Papyrus, a solar-powered audio player with impressive quality sound and volume.
They also have portable DVD players, solar powered presentation systems and portable projector screens - providing ways to deliver the message to large crowds, small groups or individuals. [more...]
For engageable Scriptures, we know that in many languages it is not sufficient to provide printed Scriptures; they need to be made available in audio form as well.
But then comes the question: which media do we use for distributing the audio Scriptures?
In the past the answer was easy: it was the audio cassette tape, and perhaps the radio. Today there are so many more choices. This document illustrates the wide range of options:
- Removable media (cassettes, CDs)
- Broadcast media (radio)
- Digital audio players (iPod, MegaVoice, Proclaimer, Saber, etc.)
- New media (Internet, mobile phones, podcasts, etc.)
The choice we make will depend very much on the local situation and will often include more than one of these options. [more...]
In seeking to free ourselves from the biases of a print-oriented culture, we need to consider, not only the kinds of media and discourse genre (e.g. narrative) that are most appropriate for oral cultures, but also the most effective ways to use those genres and media. What do non-readers like to see and hear? What do they enjoy listening to? Their choices will not necessarily be the same as those of print communicators. If the styles of presentation are ones which oral communicators prefer, then they will be more likely to listen, to understand, and to remember what they hear.
In this paper, Rick Brown argues that oral cultures have their own preferences for ways to communicate truth, and that these are often different from what print-oriented people prefer. In order to share the message most effectively, we need to find out what media and methods work best for them. In most cases this will include a multi-media approach with an emphasis on memorizing the Scriptures with the aid of high-quality recordings from skilled actors or voicers. [more...]
The cassette dramas were very effective and listened to repeatedly.
The Ese Ejjas are a nomadic river people group of Bolivia. Joyce Prettol describes how no one was able to read Scripture with expression, as reading is a personal skill and not for entertaining others. So they decided to record dramatized Scripture. The cast spent time talking together about the story and then developed their dialogue. Prettol explains and gives examples of how they dramatized parables, miracles, and New Testament incidents. She also covers technical factors. [more...]