Author: Lawson Murray
Published by: Scripture Union Canada, 2013

In the Jump Into the Word blog, Lawson Murray asks how the digital age will influence Bible engagement.

He makes a list of possible effects:

  • "the Bible will be read in multiple formats in an ever emerging variety of forms on a growing range of devices
  • availability and access to different Bible versions and translations will continue to increase
  • greater access to audio Bibles and podcasts may help us become better “hearers” of the Word
  • sharing thoughts and insights about the Bible may increase due to social networks like facebook and Linkedin
  • interactive software programs/systems, hypertext, blogs, posts and webinars uniquely facilitate biblical study and reflection
  • sharing favourite or meaningful verses will increase due to texting and tweeting
  • the individual’s opportunity and capacity to understand and interpret the Scriptures will increase
  • missions could prosper because nations closed to the Gospel will find it more difficult to restrict the availability of biblical texts
  • the Scriptures are readily available in any language or translation to anyone on earth with a smart phone
  • Scripture memorization may decline because Google, Bible Gateway, You Version and such make it easy to look up a passage or text
  • people will become significantly less likely to buy printed copies of the Bible
  • reading Scripture within a contemplative framework may decline
  • sequential reading will decline due to the fact that reading on the web develops inclinations to skip around, dip and dabble, browse or scan information
  • tendencies to read the Bible in short fast bursts will increase
  • concentration and meditation on the Scriptures will suffer because of what Cory Doctorow has called “an ecosystem of interruption technologies” (animations, hyperlinks, live feeds, pop-ups and so on)
  • qualitative depth of reading will be sacrificed for reading geared to a quantitative scope
  • e-books may augment a predisposition to uncouple content from form which may lead to tendencies to view the Scriptures as something detached from their incarnational form – the textual equivalent of Cartesian dualism
  • the role of the local church in the transmission and interpretation of the Scriptures will decline"

What do you think? Read the full article over at the Jump Into The Word blog and leave your comments.  [more...]

Published by: Davar Partners International (2013)

This video from Zambia shows how a digital audio player, the solar-powered Audibible from Davar Partners International, can be used to facilitate Scripture engagement in group settings.

Here are some of the points made by the group leader:

  • Hearing God's Word is more important that just being told about it.
  • The audio player gives access to the Bible to those who cannot read.
  • In the local language, listeners get the message straight and it doesn't need interpretation.
  • Listeners have the opportunity to ask questions, as the group hears from each individual about what they found in the Bible story. It's an open forum, with a 'chairman' to make sure everyone gets the opportunity to share.
  [more...]
DVD with 209 illustrations
Author: Graham Kennedy, Bible illustrator
Published by: Foundation Matters (2013), available from NTM

Created by Bible illustrator Graham Kennedy of Foundation Matters, these new Bible pictures have been chosen to illustrate and complement the stories that are included in New Tribes Mission's Firm Foundations Bible study curriculum. The 209 illustrations cover Bible stories from the Creation in Genesis through the Acts of the Apostles.

A catalogue with a small preview of each the images is available for download from the NTM website.  [more...]

Pump Up Your Mobile Media Ministry
Author: Keith Williams
Published by: Mobile Advance (2013)

What’s the weak link when it comes to mobile media ministry? When it comes to actually showing mobile media, the weak link is your mobile device’s speaker. Unfortunately, most phone speakers are very weak and far too many tablets have underpowered speakers that, even worse, are positioned facing away from the viewer.

For audio and video on mobile phones or tablets to be heard by groups of people, it can help to connect your mobile device to external speakers. This can be via a cable from the phone's 3.5mm headphone socket, or wireless using a Bluetooth connection.

This review on the Mobile Advance website compares 13 speakers available for under $100, and makes recommendations on which might be the best to choose. Even if these specific models are unavailable where you are, there might be something similar available locally. The article will get you thinking on how a mobile device connected to an external speaker can help to make audiovisual Scripture engagement products accessible in group contexts.  [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...]

Author: Katherine O’Donnell

MA dissertation: Bible & Mission, Redcliffe College (2013)

Abstract:

This study examines both what Tanzanian Christians think about the Bible and the way they engage with it, through a review of the literature on Bible use in Africa and primary research in the Mbeya-Iringa Cluster Project of SIL International. Data was gathered through a mixed method approach using questionnaires (with respondents selected through purposive sampling across four language areas) and a group interview (with the Literacy/Scripture Use Coordinators who administered the questionnaires).

The research revealed that Tanzanians commonly see the Bible as the Word of God, though what they mean by this is less clear. Preaching, prayer meetings, Bible seminars and songs were most commonly ranked as very important for growing in faith. Further, respondents most frequently engaged with the Bible by reading or listening to it at church (80%), reading alone (55%), singing (47%) or praying (45%). There was a clear discrepancy between their level of Bible engagement and the importance they ascribed to it. Only 63% owned a complete Swahili Bible, while far fewer used mother-tongue Scriptures. Most people seemed to interpret the Bible simply and directly, but not always contextually or accurately, and saw the Bible’s central message as being one of judgement, sin or salvation. Variations were sometimes found between genders, denominations and language areas.

Amongst other things, the findings suggest that Scripture Engagement workers should use methods appropriate for oral and communal societies, provide training for pastors and lay Christians in hermeneutics and other Bible engagement tools and facilitate the distribution of Christian literature.  [more...]

Author: John Ommani Luchivia

Fuller Graduate Schools, School of Intercultural Studies Doctor of Intercultural Studies dissertation (2012)

Abstract:
This dissertation explores the missiological opportunities, challenges and implications of growing multilingualism among people who are fluent in two or more languages. I look at the cognitive value of language and how languages shape people’s world views. World views influence peoples’ perceptions and way of processing and understand information. People’s beliefs are reflected in their character and relationships in the community. Christians want to promote positive community relations in order for people to participate in the mission of God within their community.

I survey relevant literature on the role of language and its value, how language fits the plan of God, and its place in His mission to different peoples. I then survey current trends of language use and growing multilingualism, and the language practices within Kenya. I therefore focus on research factors behind language choice and use.

Methodologically, I use focus groups, participant observation, and personal interviews in four different socio-linguistic contexts in four different Christian denominations. I thematically analyse and code the data to establish my findings. The findings point to the factors that influence language choice.

Factors that determine choice of language go beyond the level of fluency in reading, speaking or understanding. These factors involve attitudes that go very deep in both positive and negative ways. Additionally, people’s language choices are influenced by other social factors. The factors include desire to communicate, social cultural pressure, economic advancement, political correctness, reading materials availability, leadership perception on language, institutional policy, religious values and proficiency in any given language. These factors were consistently displayed in all four research locations enabling me to demonstrate reliability of the data and validity of the findings.

Understanding how these factors influence people will assist Christians who desire to become good witnesses. To be witnesses, people need to be empowered. For purpose of language choice, all languages should be viewed as being appropriate for ministry. Language is a platform for effective participant contextualisation among the people of God. Through their actions and pronouncements people are able to utilize the multilingual environment of Kenya to better engage in mission and spread God’s Word.

-- for more information about this dissertation, please contact the author at john_ommaniatsil [dot] org  [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...]

Theology and Christian Life in Africa
Authors: Rubin Pohor, Michel Kenmogne (eds.)
Published by: PBA Editions, ADG Editions (2012)

Théologie et Vie Chrétienne en Afrique contains the fruit of the Francophone Initiative consultation held in Cotonou, Benin, in August 2011. The papers presented seek to bring together theological reflection, Bible translation and the mission of the church in Africa.

Contents:

"Impact de la théologie des Africains de la première heure sur la vie chrétienne ou la vie de l'Eglise: quelles leçons ?" - Dieudonné P. Aroga Bessong

"L'Impact de la théologie sur la vie chrétienne en Afrique: état des lieux, problèmes et opportunités" - Issiaka Coulibaly, avec une réponse par Bungishabaku Robert Katho

"Perspectives sur la relation entre la théologie et la vie chrétienne" - Elie Koumbem

"L'impact des traductions bibliques sur la vie chrétienne" - Youssouf Dembélé avec une réponse par Ahoga Augustin

"Le vécu de la conversion en milieu évangélique: questions et problèmes" - Rubin Pohor

"Anthropologie et pertinence de la théologie africaine" - Nathanël Yaovi Soédé

"Qui est le Rocher sinon Notre Dieu? Dialogue entre théologiens et traducteurs africains" - Lynell Zogbo

"L'Impact de la traduction de la Bible sur la vie de l'Eglise en Afrique" - Dieudonné P. Aroga Bessong

Price: 6,000 CFA or USD $12 plus postage.
Available from: CABTAL, Yaoundé, Cameroon, or initiative_franc_cabtalatcabtal [dot] org  [more...]