Studying the Bible in Small Groups
Author: Karen Soole
Published by: 10Publishing, 2015

'Unleash the Word', by Karen Soole, provides practical help and encouragement on studying the Bible in small groups. The author recommends the 'big questions' model:

  1. The "no-holds barred question": is there anything that particularly strikes you as we read the passage through?
  2. What does it say?
  3. What does it mean?
  4. So what?

Some helpful quotations from the book:

"A small-group leader is not there to lecture group members, but to help them engage with the text." (ch. 1)

"So as we approach the idea of leading a Bible study, we have two main aims in our minds: the first is to get people to really engage with God's Word so that they are rooted in Christ; the second is to make sure the Bible is handled well within a context that handles people well." (ch. 1)

"The aim in a study is for the leader to help everyone move on in their understanding, to spiral deeper into the text, to get closer to the heart of God's Word." (ch. 2)

"Whatever our temperaments we need to keep hold of two principles: we need to first really know and rejoice in God's Word, and second really know and love God's people." (ch. 3)

"Switching from a model of Bible study that asks many questions to one with far fewer is nerve-wracking - it is as though your security blanket has been taken away. It might appear structure-less, but this method has a very clear structure. People are often concerned that with so few questions the group will quickly come to a staggering halt. In my experience this does not happen." (ch. 7)

"Let's not make our studies into sessions that leave everyone burdened by religious rules but instead let us encourage each other to live in relationship with our Lord because of His mercy." (ch. 6)

Available as a printed book and in eBook/Kindle format.  [more...]

Help Your Young People Enjoy Life with the Bible
Author: Adrian Blenkinsop
Published by: Bible Society Australia, 2013

"The Bible According to Gen Z" is a collection of essays from Australia on encouraging Bible engagement among young people. It includes research results and analysis, together with responses from youth leaders and case studies.

Here are some selected quotes:

"The study showed that the best way to encourage young people to read the Bible is to encourage them to participate in a Bible reading group."

"Encouraging the sharing of ideas, opinions and questions around a passage is also vital for young people to dig into Scripture, and have a sense of 'discovery' and shared learning."

"Many young people read very little, especially in the form of books... Bible reading requires a sustained effort of a kind that is 'uncomfortable' for many young people."

"Individualism and post-traditionalism has meant that life is approached in a very flexible manner... Few young people develop strong habitual or structured daily activities, except in relation to the demands of school and work... The mobile phone has encouraged this unstructured approach to life. Hence, few young people develop structured habits of daily Bible reading."

"There's one core issue that sits at the heart of young people not 'getting into' the Bible. It may seem harsh - but it's simply that there is a consistent lack of modelling of Bible engagement from leaders. If the leaders of young people are not engaging with the Bible, the clear message to those they influence is that the Bible is not important."

"When Bible engagement is done in non-interactive, non-creative ways, it often reinforces the lack of importance and relevance of the Bible in the minds of young people."

"Experiencing the Bible as relevant depends on the attitudes one brings to it. If young people read it simply as stories of long ago, it had little relevance. If they read it as God's communication today, they were far more likely to experience it as relevant to life."

"For the young people who do read the Bible, there is often a frustration with the 'non-immediacy' of it (the fast-food approach to the Bible)."

Available as an e-book or printed book.  [more...]

Mapping Bible Engagement Across a Changing Culture
Published by: Barna, 2016

From the Publisher's description:

The Bible in America is a multiyear survey of attitudes toward and perceptions of the Bible, set against the backdrop of a changing cultural landscape. Commissioned by American Bible Society, Barna researchers have conducted more than 14,000 interviews with U.S. teens and adults since 2011 to discover:

  • How do Americans define the Bible?
  • Do they believe it is authoritative for their lives? And in what ways?
  • What is the nation’s current state of biblical literacy?
  • How often do people read, hear and study the Scriptures?
  • What does the data suggest about the future of Bible engagement?
  • How is technology changing the ways people relate to the Bible?
  • Are there significant differences between generations or other demographic groups?

The findings reveal that orienting ourselves toward the Bible is one of the most urgent tasks for today’s Church. The Bible in America offers analysis, insights and encouragement to leaders who want to understand how people engage with the Scriptures today and how to cultivate biblical faith that lasts in an ever-changing world.

Full color report with infographics. 173 pages.
Available as a printed book or an e-book. Price: $40.  [more...]

Monday 12 September - Friday 2 December, 2016
Redcliffe College, Gloucester, UK
Sponsor: SIL and Wycliffe Bible Translators

This practical course offers specialist training in how to make God’s Word available and accessible to people of all nations and languages and to facilitate transformative engagement with Scripture.

Participants will:

  • Explore how language, culture and worldview impact engagement with Scripture.
  • Learn to use practical tools for engaging individuals and communities with Scripture, such as Bible studies and Chronological Bible Storying.
  • Discover how Scripture can be made accessible through audio, visual, digital and print mediums.
  • Develop skills in strategic planning and community engagement.

Scripture Engagement is open to anyone but also forms part of the initial training for those working with SIL International on a Scripture Engagement or Ethno Arts assignment.

More information is available from Redcliffe's website.  [more...]

Redcliffe College, Gloucester, UK

The MA in Contemporary Missiology with Redcliffe College is designed to give a firm understanding of mission approaches and issues.

All students take two compulsory modules which:

  • explore approaches to the concept of missio Dei (God’s mission in the world) and holistic mission, and give a thorough orientation on skills for postgraduate missiological research and study.
  • focus on a number of crucial issues that demand attention as we participate in God’s mission in the contemporary world.

In addition, it is possible to take the Scripture Engagement stream which includes the following two modules:

Scripture Engagement: Approaches and Issues
The Bible is sometimes described as a ‘tool’ of mission. This module will enable you to explore and evaluate a number of approaches for and issues in Scripture Engagement in different cultural contexts, both in the 'West' and in the majority world.

Scripture Engagement: Professional Project
The module will provide you with the opportunity to undertake an approved project of independent study relating to a specific area of Scripture Engagement professional practice.  [more...]

Results of a study, surveying nearly 5,500 people in Burkina Faso and Cameroon
Authors: Béatrice Konfe-Tiendrebeogo (ANTBA, Burkina Faso), Julious Ngum Kimbung (CABTAL, Cameroon), Martin Engeler (OneBook, Canada), 2014

This study was undertaken by a small team of Africans and Canadians to measure the impacts of translated Scriptures, literacy and Scripture engagement programs on marginalized minority language communities, to discern whether certain hypotheses are true and to better understand which program practices yielded the post positive impacts.

Here are the five hypotheses which were tested:

  1. The most effective projects in transforming people groups are led and implemented by nationals.
  2. The most effective projects in transforming people groups had strong literacy programs to ensure mother-tongue literacy of a substantial part of the population.
  3. Effective literacy programs bring positive community transformation in the areas of social, economic and spiritual realms.
  4. Good access to and use of the mother-tongue Scriptures will foster qualitative and quantitative church growth.
  5. Nationals led the most transformational (effective) and fastest (efficient) programs in transforming communities.

Nine language communities in Burkina Faso and nine in Cameroon were selected, each of which had either a concluded or an ongoing Bible translation and literacy project.

The report, published in 2014, concludes that translation of the Scriptures is not enough, but by working hand-in-hand with functional, transitional and basic literacy, lasting impacts are achieved.  [more...]

How the Church Can Help
Author: Harriet Hill, Margaret Hill, Dick Baggé, and Pat Miersma
Published by: American Bible Society (2015)

This book offers a practical approach to engaging the Bible and mental health principles to find God’s healing for wounds of the heart, which provides a strong foundation for restored lives and relationships.

This edition is adapted for ministry in North America, with all-new stories and three new chapters on domestic abuse, suicide, and addictions. Apart from this, it includes the same content and approach as the original Healing the Wounds of Trauma: How the Church Can Help.

It is a resource for leaders in churches and NGOs who care for people who have suffered horrific events like conflict, abuse, and disasters. It will also help individuals struggling with suffering. It provides core mental health principles within a biblical framework, an approach that has been field tested since 2001 with leaders from Catholic, Orthodox, Protestant, and independent churches. It has been adapted into more than 150 languages and cultures around the world.

The book is designed for use in groups and written in simple and non-technical language. Each lesson begins with a story depicting its topic, followed by discussion questions and participatory exercises. The book includes more than 270 Bible references from more than 217 passages.  [more...]

Published by: GemStone Media (2014)

"In the high mountains of Central Asia are shepherds who live a simple but rugged life. The village where they live is extremely remote and isolated from the outside world. Going there feels like you're stepping back into time. This is the first time a film has been done with this people group. All of the actors are from the local village."

This is the first film in GemStone Media's Luke 15 trilogy, which is followed by "The Lost Jewel" and soon "The Lost Sons".

To see footage from the making of The Lost Sheep, watch the video "The Lost Sheep - Behind the Scenes".

The film is released under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-NoDerivatives 4.0 International License. It can be downloaded and shared freely.  [more...]

Author: Ellen Errington (2016)

The experience of going to church is largely an oral one in any culture. This is perfectly acceptable and appropriate, but there are ways that the experience of participating in church activities can be complementary to developing literacy skills and literate practice for daily life.

In this paper, Ellen Errington applies the concept of scaffolding to the task of teaching people from oral cultures the skills of reading and writing. By supporting the learner through these means, literate practice may seem less foreign and new avenues of communication may be opened up. Scaffolding techniques are really just good teaching practices, but for learners from oral cultures, literacy teachers need to use them more often and more intentionally to build success.

The church, though primarily an oral setting, can also be a setting for supporting literate practice, including Bible ‘literacy,’ for all church members. The inclusion of scaffolding techniques for oral literacy learners in the church setting can bring excitement and deeper understanding to all who participate.  [more...]