Engaging Different Audiences

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...]

Published by: Lion Hudson

Five years ago Lion Hudson (a UK based publisher) was approached by the United Bible Societies with the need for an illustrated re-telling of the Bible narrative that was suitable for a wide age range including adults, culturally appropriate for non Western readers and which could be printed at a price that made it affordable for a mass market in the two thirds world with minimum or no subsidy. The organisations settled on a long-standing and successful title - The Lion Children's Bible - as the book that best met this requirement.  [more...]

An interactive journey through the Old Testament
Author: Jennifer Wright

In this detailed 17-page workshop guide from the Ndop region of North West Cameroon, Jennifer Wright describes how participants were taken on an interactive journey through the Old Testament:

What?
The Bible Overview Workshop is a two day workshop for leaders of church groups, such as listening group leaders and Sunday School teachers, with the aim of giving a basic knowledge of the overall Bible story and particularly aspects of the Old Testament which are important for understanding the New Testament.

Why?
We had trained people to be listening group leaders and children’s leaders, and they were generally doing well, however we realised that due to limited knowledge of the Old Testament, some were finding it challenging to lead their group because they were not prepared for the kind of questions that could come up unexpectedly when listening to or reading the New Testament – for example about the priests, the sacrificial system, the Passover feast, etc. Although they knew a lot of Bible stories, many did not have a very clear idea of what order they come in and how it all fits together.

How?
Geography: We had a simple map of the Ancient Near East on the wall and the whole room was set up to match the map. The participants moved around the room as they engaged with the material so they gained an understanding of the layout of the places we were talking about and the movements of the people of Israel, from Abraham’s first journey to Canaan to the return from Exile.

Timeline: Each participant received a blank timeline at the beginning of the course, and there was a large version of it on the wall. As we went through the material, we completed the timeline on the wall and the participants completed their own timelines to match it so they could take it home with them.

Telling Bible Stories together: We selected a set of stories to give a coherent summary of the Old Testament. Some stories which were well known to the participants were covered very briefly by letting them summarise them or in some cases act them out. Other stories were narrated or read from the Bible.

Questions: For several key passages, we asked questions based on the text in order to encourage discussion and bring out key points, especially when they would be referred to later. We also gave space for participants to ask questions.

Discussion topics – e.g. we finished the first day by making a large model Tabernacle (out of people, benches, a sheet, cardboard boxes, etc.) and then having a discussion of sacrifices, comparing the Old Testament sacrificial system to the local village’s sacrificial system.

Download a full description of the workshop as a PDF document.  [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...]

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 Case Study of Young Adults Who are Not Involved in a Faith Community
Author: F. Morgan
Published by: Encounters Mission Ezine, Issue 27 (Dec 2008)

All approaches to interpreting the Bible are culture bound, including the systematic theologies of modernity. The Church needs to be open to new ways of reading the Bible and should encourage people to interpret texts for themselves by adopting a more interactive approach to preaching. A divinely inspired text must be capable of speaking into postmodernity just as effectively as it has done in the past. The Church should embrace the openness of non-churchgoers to the Bible's wisdom, moral values and powerful prose while attempting to communicate that the text is more dynamic, surprising, challenging and relevant than society assumes.

This paper explores attitudes to the Bible among non-churchgoers in the UK. It focuses on a case study of young professionals, examining their familiarity with the Bible and their opinions of it. It evaluates the ways in which the Church attempts to raise awareness of the Bible and asks how culturally relevant these approaches are to the people represented in the case study.  [more...]

What facilitates and hinders Scripture engagement in the Minyanka churches of Mali?
Author: Richard Margetts

MA dissertation: All Nations, UK (2013)

Abstract:

The coming of the New Testament in 2006 heralded a new era of Scripture engagement for the Minyanka people of Mali. This paper evaluates the factors that have facilitated and hindered the process of interacting with God’s Word. It includes an examination of the role of Bible understanding, literacy and methods of oral communication as well as the relationship between the Bible agency and the local churches.

The research takes an exploratory approach in which a review of existing literature and initial interviews helped to formulate a research questionnaire which was carried out in Minyanka churches. The results of the survey became the subject of discussion in follow-up interviews with Malian Bible translators, pastors and expatriate colleagues in order to interpret the data. This was combined with documentary research into Scripture engagement in the history of the Minyanka church and in reports of recent activities.

The testimonies of change and transformation demonstrate that the translated Scriptures are making a difference. Scripture engagement is taking place as people read their New Testaments, listen to the audio Scriptures and tune into Minyanka radio programmes.

But this paper also shows that there is no room for complacency. There is an urgent call for basic Bible teaching and ongoing literacy classes. Pastors have an especially important role to play and need to be given encouragement, time, resources and training to more effectively facilitate Scripture engagement. Their choice of communication methods and their availability to answer questions from the Bible has a considerable influence on the way people interact with the Scriptures.

Spiritual transformation is a desired outcome of Scripture engagement, but it is not necessarily immediate and certainly not automatic. As Bible agencies have learnt in the West, it is possible to have access to Scripture and some of the best resources and programmes, but fail to be changed by God’s Word. In this sense, Minyanka Christians are no different from Christians anywhere else in the world, facing the challenge of making Scripture engagement a priority amid the many distractions in life.

Download as a PDF document below:  [more...]