Engaging Different Audiences

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...]

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...]

Author: Hanni Gruenig

How can we start women reading their Bibles when they have never done it before?

Many women in Africa do not realize that the Bible has answers to their daily life questions. Hanni Gruenig describes how she used a course of Bible studies to address relevant issues for the women who had completed the literacy course. She describes its impact on some of them.   [more...]

Letting go of our most valuable resources
Author: Roy Meredith (Logosdor, Australia)

"Those under 20 are ‘digital natives’ — fearless and proficient in manipulating the media with understanding of it structure and potential. It is these young people we must harness to help Christians be salt and light on the internet social networking sites."

One person can only shake hands with about 25 people in 15 seconds - but if they all keep shaking hands with others, a whole room of 250 people can be reached in 15 secs. Such is the nature of viral videos!

Roy Meredith (Logosdor, Australia) tells us about 'R U Smarter than a Fly?' - a 5 part video narrative about the birth, life and death of Jesus as seen through the eyes of flies. He discusses the idea of viral videos and how Scripture engagement needs to take place where young people are online (e.g. social networking sites).  [more...]