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...]
"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.
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 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...]
"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...]
"...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...]
"Most of our Scripture Engagement tools are geared toward teens who are relatively open to the Scriptures though perhaps struggle to see the relevance. But what about the antagonistic atheists and seculars who favour naturalistic science over the implausible supernatural; the untrusting skeptics and agnostics who find the historical and moral assertions in the Bible literally in-credible; or the confused seekers and New Agers who want meaning to their life but are suspicious of any (religious) truth claims—no matter how seemingly relevant—lest they be duped and lose their “freedom”?"
Encountering God’s Word has the potential to transform teens outside the church. But what if their attitude to the Bible closes their ears? How can we open ears, establish trust, and arouse interest? Sometimes we need to talk about the Bible before we can invite teens to read it. These resources unpack a pre-evangelistic conversational strategy that challenges, informs, and inspires teens to see the Bible as plausible, credible, and relevant.
Dave Benson has researched the area and is actively using the model he presents here in Australian schools. Attached here is the booklet and presentation he produced for the World Wide Scripture Engagement Consultation 2009 - and a copy of his thesis 'The Thinking Teen'. [more...]
WordLive is for people who want to meet with God in fresh ways and to engage with the Bible. WordLive is created and maintained by Scripture Union. At the heart of what we do is to try to present the Bible in inspiring and accessible ways.
WordLive is a daily multimedia Bible experience with both audio and text of the passage, meditations, worship songs and prayer.
It is available online, by email, RSS feed, podcast or on your mobile phone. [more...]