Engaging Different Audiences

A Case Study in the Role of the Translation Organization
Author: John L Ommani

When the Bible remains silent about certain cultural features, the Church... should assist the Christians to think through their traditions by digging deeper.

In the Tharaka society of Kenya, female circumcision has held a prominent place. In recent years Christian Tharaka people have questioned whether the rite should continue. The Bible Translation and Literacy agency has had a part in helping the society look at this rite from a biblical perspective. This article chronicles the history of the rite, including both its positive elements and problems, and some alternatives are presented.  [more...]

A tool which churches perceive to be of value in furthering their goals
Author: Keith Benn

What excites us most is that people who have never before led a Bible study are now having regular studies in their homes.

This article relates how Bible study cassettes on Genesis 1-11 and James have had a big impact on the Central Bontoc people of the Philippines. It outlines the format of the Bible studies and the ways they have been used both within churches and in evangelism, and how they support the development of literacy.  [more...]

A study of meditative engagement with selected psalms amongst Edinburgh students
Author: Fergus Macdonald
Published by: University of Edinburgh, 2008

"...the creative engagement between respondents and text results from respondents discovering that the psalms resonate with their idealism and basic human needs in ways that facilitate their ongoing spiritual quest for meaning and enlightenment, as well as providing an opportunity to confront God with complaints and dilemmas."

This study is the account of an empirical research programme in practical theology exploring the potential of the Book of Psalms to facilitate the spiritual journey of a sample of University of Edinburgh students aged between twenty and thirty who are on or beyond the fringes of the churches. Drawing upon some insights of the Bible Society movement regarding ‘scripture engagement,’ and in the wider context of increasing interest in spirituality and decreasing confidence in the churches among many westernised young adults, the project seeks to answer two research questions.  [more...]

A framework for approaching youth Scripture Engagement
Authors: Naomi Swindon, Adrian Blenkinsop

"Scripture engagement must allow the young person to ‘discover’ the message for themselves (as opposed to ‘being told’). They need to discover the relevance and value of God’s story for their lives, and our role is to be a guide, a storyteller, an encourager, and a listener to the Holy Spirits guidance."

Seeking to engage a young person with Scripture can be disappointing – and exhilarating. Have I failed if they don’t connect or react negatively? Having an array of engagement tools at our disposal, combined with an informed awareness of the context and culture of youth will enable us to use the right resource at the right time.

This approach is being used by Scripture Union in Victoria in a schools-based context, and by Bible Society in South Australia in a youth group and schools context.  [more...]

Author: Bettina Gottschlich
Published by: Fuller Theological Seminary, Doctor of Intercultural Studies dissertation (2012)

Abstract:
This dissertation contributes to the missiological conversation on transformational Scripture engagement. Translation into the mother–tongue and good distribution by themselves are insufficient to enable multi–lingual Budu believers of Congo–Kinshasa translate the Bible into action and changed lives. Literature surveyed on Scripture engagement, biblical theology of mission and contextualization revealed that effectiveness seems to be handicapped by the lack of connecting and integrating the people’s story in its wider historical context into God’s story, as presented in the totality of Scripture and understood through relevant themes and motifs. In light of a history of a largely non–contextualized gospel, the model of biblical theology in context including creative solutions to language in a multilingual environment could offer a way forward.

This qualitative research identifies and documents Scripture resources that enable life–transforming Scripture engagement among Budu believers from their point of view. It further identifies measurable indicators that determine what constitutes verifiably effective engagement. The research methodology consisted of qualitative methods to collect and grounded theory to analyze the data from 36 interviews and 36 focus groups, participant observation and document research, representing the whole of the Budu region and its church leadership. The findings revealed the emic view that I classify in two key themes of “People” as Scripture resources and “Ministry” Scripture resources.

The data collected is used to develop a change strategy together with Budu leadership to enable Budu believers encounter God’s Word in life–transforming ways using context–appropriate Scripture resources. My recommendations call for two important changes: (1) altering our comprehension of what constitutes a Scripture resource; (2) using this knowledge to enable Budu believers complete God’s story in a way that it becomes “readable” through the messengers individually and communally and communicated through appropriated means of communication. I specifically address the issue of leaders as promoters of transformation in the largely but not only communal and oral context of African believers. As these leaders find their place within God’s story, and become “living Scripture resources”, credible conveyers of the Word of God, they will be able to lead others towards life–transforming engagement with Scripture.

-- For information about this dissertation, please contact Bettina Gottschlich at bettinagottschlichatgmail [dot] com  [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...]

Author: Lamar Vest (President and CEO, American Bible Society)
Published by: The Huffington Post (11 May 2010)

"The Bible has yet to beat the perception of being a dusty old rule book among millennials largely because to substantiate relevance and garner interest, the text first must be read... The message of the Bible is unchanging, but how we deliver that message not only can change, but must."

Lamar Vest discusses some of the strategies the American Bible Society is using to encourage the millennial generation to engage with the Scriptures, including creative delivery methods and "new tools that put the user in the driver's seat of their Bible experience".  [more...]

Author: John Ommani

"Pastors have taken on the 'lecture' method to display the 'big man' syndrome which does not allow the people to engage. They are expected to sit and listen and remain silent. They feel this is how the church has to operate. The pastor simply tells them what the Bible says and what they need to do. They are not able to live out what they are told because they still have unanswered questions."

The model of the pastor as 'big man' who knows it all means that people have to sit and listen, and often this does not lead to engagement with Scripture in life-transforming ways. In many traditional cultures, leaders taught through stories, questions, and riddles, allowing people to interact and discover. Can pastors today learn to use discovery methods in the church that allow people to interact with Scripture and discover lessons for themselves? This article says yes, with field experience from Africa to demonstrate it.  [more...]