Engaging Different Audiences

A new way of getting people to get to grips with Scripture
Author: Steve Levy
Published by: Evangelicals Now (March 2010)

"There used to be just three people in our church reading through the Bible — now there are 150. One older lady, a believer since her 20s, had attempted to read the Bible through for years and every time had given up. ‘Now, together with everyone else, I think I’m going to do it’, she said."

Steve Levy describes how his church has divided everybody up into small groups - Read the Bible Together groups - which meet together once a month. Before coming to the group, people are asked to read or listen to a book of the Bible. They then come together to share what God has been teaching them: "We need to help each other. The Bible is written to be talked about. It grows. It is not bound."  [more...]

Bible engagement resources for children’s workers everywhere
Published by: Max7

BibleMAX from Max7 is an excellent collection of free-to-download resources for helping children engage with the Bible.

BibleMAX lessons have 4 main sections: Activate (welcome, song, opening activity), Communicate (read the Bible, explore the Bible story), Investigate (discuss, ask questions) and Commit (memory verse, prayer, challenge).

Lesson plans are available in several major languages (English, French, Spanish, Arabic, Swahili...) and translation into other languages is in progress.

There is a Leader's Guide giving 7 different ideas on how to... welcome children, explore a Bible story, reinforce a Bible passage, ask questions, transition between activities, memorize Scripture, pray with children and dismiss the children at the end of the lesson.

For example, 7 ways to explore a Bible story: make a model, interviews, draw the main events in the story, still-frame drama scene, story-telling, act it out, write a song.  [more...]

Theories and themes emerging from the World Wide Scripture Engagement Consultation
Author: Stephen Opie

"There is clear confusion among Christians about why they should read the Bible. For many, who have lived a Christian life without much engagement with the Bible, there is no perceived need to engage with it."

This paper, fruit of the recent WWSE Think Tank, seeks to engage with the 'Bible Engagement Crisis' in contexts where Bible availability is high but Bible use is relatively low. The focus is on the emerging generation who are less likely to use the Bible than the generations before them, especially using traditional methods.

After presenting the challenge, Stephen Opie outlines some of the strategic themes emerging, such as:

  • establishing relevance by listening first;
  • embracing technology, especially the Internet;
  • identifying grassroots movements and helping them to grow.
  [more...]
What future is there for the Bible in our churches?
Author: Henri Bacher

"The greatest difficulty is no longer distribution, but appropriating the content of the Bible... There is a need to teach believers to meditate and, as in any learning process, you have to give regular booster injections if you want people to continue. We have often rambled on about the Bible, in sermons and Bible studies, but have we truly helped Christians to engage with the Bible in their day-to-day living?"

In this article, Henri Bacher describes some of the reasons for the erosion of Bible practice in the church and in believers' lives. Rather than starting with communication techniques, his suggested solutions major on the value of community. The idea is to encourage group interaction, networking and mutual encouragement, helping others to enter into regular, personal meditation.  [more...]

Leader's Manual and Child's Book
Authors: Margaret Hill, Debbie Braaksma, Lyn Westman
Published by: Paulines Publications Africa (2009)

"Even though Joseph had the opportunity and the power to get revenge on his brothers, he chose to forgive them. He even provided for their future rather than return evil for evil. Though it may be very difficult to forgive, in the long run it brings healing for those who have harmed us and for ourselves."

Church leaders, youth leaders, teachers and other concerned adults often find it difficult to help children recover after a trauma. The Leader's Manual is a guide for these caring adults and is accompanied by a Child's Book. Through stories, group exercises and games, and a Bible story, children are assisted in working through their trauma.

The Bible stories are from the book of Genesis: Creation, the Fall, and the life of Joseph.  [more...]

Author: J. O. Terry
Published by: Orality Strategies

...where the men focused upon the action in the story and in the broad strokes of doctrinal truth, the women focused upon relationships, feelings and emotions of the story characters as related to themselves, and family structure. There was a heightened interest among the women whenever a Bible story focused upon the person of a woman or some aspect of life typical in the woman’s world.

God and Woman is a selection of 95 biblical stories chosen for introducing women in Central and South Asia to the God of the Bible. The introduction describes the typical worldview of women in these parts of the world. God and Woman retells each of the stories and offers extensive helps, including how to set up each story, key truths to emphasize, and discussion questions.

Also available in French.  [more...]

Author: Rev Mark Brown (2009)

So I offer the challenge: that we inhabit this digital space, become part of the culture and learn the language of what Marc Prensky calls the, 'Digital Natives'. Those of us who have adopted technology later in life he describes as, 'Digital Immigrants' and like anyone immigrating to a new country, there is a need to learn.

Mark Brown, CEO of Bible Society New Zealand, outlines some of the cultural shifts that need to be understood in order to encourage Scripture engagement among 'digital natives'.

At Bible Society New Zealand in response to the appalling Bible engagement rates amongst Christians we wanted to find out, 'Why don’t people read there Bible more often?' The overwhelming reason is that people are distracted, their attention drawn to other things as they scan their environment.

To stimulate conversation, the author presents some provocative predictions of how the web might influence the production, understanding and appreciation of the Bible.

The paper was presented at the symposium: Christianity in the Digital Space, at St. John's College, Durham, UK, July 2009. Notes on the subsequent discussion can be found here.  [more...]

Author: Wendy Strachan
Published by: Scripture Union International (Catalyst, August 2007, pg. 2-7)

Our problem is not relevance. It is accessibility. The world of today’s children is different from the world of the Bible with its unfamiliar names, values, cultures, countries, politics and history. Our task is to build bridges between the world of the child and the world of the Bible so that children can enter that world and meet the God who is so utterly relevant to their world today. Our task is to open up the Bible.

This article is based on a paper given at the Worldwide Scripture Use Consultation 2006 by Wendy Strachan, Children's Ministry Co-ordinator with Scripture Union.

The author argues that we close down the Bible for children when: we sanitise it, we trivialise it, we reduce it to a book of 'stories with a moral', we treat it as a book of rules, we treat it as a textbook of information to be memorised, and when we treat it as a book of stories about heroes.

To open up the Bible, we need to: let the Bible speak for itself, let children explore the Bible text in their imagination, build a framework within which children can interpret their world and God, and then respond to God's Word.  [more...]