Engaging Different Audiences

Report into Scripture reading habits of parents and children
Published by: Bible Society, UK

The Bible Society in the UK has launched Pass It On, a campaign to encourage parents to read, watch or listen to a Bible story with their child.

An accompanying Research Report is available for download. Among the findings are:

  • Only 35% of children have had a Bible story read to them by their parents and just 16% by their grandparents.
  • Over half of children (54%) never, or less than once a year, read Bible stories at school or at home, and 45% of parents of children aged 3 to 8 say they never read Bible stories to their child, falling to 36% in London and rising to 52% in Scotland and 60% in Wales.
  • In stark contrast, 86% of parents read, listened to or watched Bible stories themselves as a child aged 3 to 16.
  • For 1 in 5 parents (22%) of younger children, aged 3 to 8, a lack of time is a barrier to them reading to their children more often. For some parents, an increase in the availability of different types of media is making it difficult to read more often to their children. Yet, while digital devices are growing in popularity, 82% of children still like to read stories more traditionally in a book.

The report concludes:

Our research highlights a number of worrying trends, among them evidence that Bible literacy – already in serious decline – will become significantly worse in the future.

While millions of people in Britain and around the world believe in the value Bible stories bring to society, little is being done in our homes or schools to keep them alive for future generations.

The Pass It On campaign seeks to respond to this challenge.  [more...]

Published by: Barna Group (2013)

The Millennial generation of young people are known as "digital natives". According to recent research carried out by the Barna Group in the USA:

"the most common way Millennials are blending their faith and technology is through digital reading of Scripture. It’s an escalating trend, considering there are just as many YouVersion (the free Bible phone app) downloads as there are Instagram downloads. And BibleGateway.com has become one of the top Christian websites today."

The research found that:

"Seven out of 10 of practicing Christian Millennials (70%) read Scripture on a screen. One-third of all Millennials says they read sacred Scripture on a phone or online, demonstrating how broadly the digital trends are shaping this generation."

In addition, 38% of practicing Christian Millennials said they search the Internet to verify something a faith leader has said. This might be during a sermon, as many bring their smartphones or tablets to church with them.  [more...]

Author: John Ommani Luchivia

Fuller Graduate Schools, School of Intercultural Studies Doctor of Intercultural Studies dissertation (2012)

Abstract:
This dissertation explores the missiological opportunities, challenges and implications of growing multilingualism among people who are fluent in two or more languages. I look at the cognitive value of language and how languages shape people’s world views. World views influence peoples’ perceptions and way of processing and understand information. People’s beliefs are reflected in their character and relationships in the community. Christians want to promote positive community relations in order for people to participate in the mission of God within their community.

I survey relevant literature on the role of language and its value, how language fits the plan of God, and its place in His mission to different peoples. I then survey current trends of language use and growing multilingualism, and the language practices within Kenya. I therefore focus on research factors behind language choice and use.

Methodologically, I use focus groups, participant observation, and personal interviews in four different socio-linguistic contexts in four different Christian denominations. I thematically analyse and code the data to establish my findings. The findings point to the factors that influence language choice.

Factors that determine choice of language go beyond the level of fluency in reading, speaking or understanding. These factors involve attitudes that go very deep in both positive and negative ways. Additionally, people’s language choices are influenced by other social factors. The factors include desire to communicate, social cultural pressure, economic advancement, political correctness, reading materials availability, leadership perception on language, institutional policy, religious values and proficiency in any given language. These factors were consistently displayed in all four research locations enabling me to demonstrate reliability of the data and validity of the findings.

Understanding how these factors influence people will assist Christians who desire to become good witnesses. To be witnesses, people need to be empowered. For purpose of language choice, all languages should be viewed as being appropriate for ministry. Language is a platform for effective participant contextualisation among the people of God. Through their actions and pronouncements people are able to utilize the multilingual environment of Kenya to better engage in mission and spread God’s Word.

-- for more information about this dissertation, please contact the author at john_ommaniatsil [dot] org  [more...]

An explorative study of children's critical and theological ability to engage with the Bible, using a contextual Bible study, on the Widow's offering in Mark 12 as a case study
Author: Alice Kathleen Fabian
Published by: University of KwaZulu-Natal, Pietermaritzburg - MTh thesis (2012)

Abstract:
The flat narratives presented in Children’s Bibles typify the assumption that children are incapable of engaging theologically and critically with the Biblical texts. The manner in which Biblical stories are told to children during their formative years can have negative repercussions as children perceive the Scriptures as static and irrelevant. By denying children the chance to explore the dynamic text, they will never discover the depth and potential of the life-giving message of the Bible and can become despondent with Christianity, perceiving it as immaterial as the Biblical narratives show no resemblance to reality. Developing a habit of blindly accepting Christian teachings can also develop a faith which allows unhealthy indoctrination and oppressive beliefs into the Christian’s life.

This thesis explores what is necessary to enable and encourage children to critically and theologically engage with the Bible. Using the story of the Widow’s Offering in Mark 12 as an example, the traditional readings present in Children’s Bibles were compared to a critical reading of the text. A Contextual Bible Study was then conducted with two case studies from grade 1 and 4 at Scottsville Primary in order to determine whether children are able to critically and theologically engage with the concepts of Christian Humanism and textual criticism. The findings reveal that this is an important area of research that requires urgent further investigation.  [more...]

A Student's Manual for Scripture Use
Author: Edna Headland

Pastors who have studied in a language other than their mother tongue can have difficulty using the local language Scriptures. When they preach, they sometimes borrow words from the language in which they studied, rather than thinking about the word that will communicate best in their local language.

For this reason Bible Institutes, seminaries and churches should encourage those who study the Bible to use the translation in their own language and investigate how important terms were translated.

On completing this 43 lesson course, a speaker with the Scriptures in their own language will be able to:

  • identify how key terms in their language are translated;
  • use the terms when they teach or preach;
  • better understand the doctrine based on or related to the key term;
  • attach greater value to the Scriptures in their language since they know that there are appropriate ways to communicate key terms in their own language and that it may change according to the context;
  • use the Scriptures with more confidence and motivate other people in their ethnic group to do so.

The course is also available in Spanish and Portuguese.  [more...]

Illustrated Bible selections and Bible videos
Author: Keith Neely
Published by: Neely Press (2012)

"I realised that no translation was worth anything if my children didn't read it on their own because they wanted to. The burning question for me as a parent was how do I get my children into the word of God so that the word of God would get into them? As a professional illustrator the answer became obvious."

The Illustrated Bible - containing the historical books of the Old and New Testaments - is available in two formats: as illustrated pages and as video. Each Bible story selection contains the full Bible text with accompanying images.

The videos are made from the still images, with the camera moving over the illustrations, zooming in and out, and panning across. The images are realistic rather than using a cartoon style.

There are several free Bible stories and video clips to view online or download, as well as others to purchase. Translation and dubbing is possible into other languages.  [more...]

A Children’s Video Series of Bible Stories
Author: Rick McArthur

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.

Download the document below for more details, go to the Deditos website, www.deditos.org, or view the first videos at www.vimeo.com/deditos.  [more...]

Read the Story. Experience the Bible.
Published by: Zondervan / Hodder & Stoughton (2011)

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...]

Reading big chunks of Scripture, out loud, together
Author: Carl Laferton
Published by: The Briefing, 3 November 2011

"What we are trying to do is say we want our people to know the Scripture — and how will they know the Scriptures other than by reading it? And what’s the best way to read it? I’m convinced that it’s designed to be read in big chunks, out loud, with people getting together."

Cornerstone Church in Kingston, UK, have embarked on 'The Big Read'. The idea is to read one book of the Bible each month, together in small groups.

On the first Sunday of the month, the pastor preaches an overview of the book. Then at the midweek prayer meeting, they read the first few chapters together, leaving the rest for the small groups during the other weeks of the month. They've put together a series of 10 questions to help them reflect on what they're reading.

For more details, see the article in The Briefing, which contains some provocative thoughts on Bible reading from Cornerstone's pastor, Pete Woodcock.  [more...]