How not to write Bible study questions
Author: Richard Margetts

Article in English and French (2015).

As well as teaching the sorts of questions you should ask, it can also be helpful to highlight the sorts of questions you shouldn’t ask, i.e. what kinds of questions or series of questions can be unhelpful or uninteresting? What kinds of questions should I probably avoid if I want to encourage a good Bible study?

This article sprang from training local church leaders in preparing participatory Bible studies for small groups. It describes 15 types of questions to avoid when developing such studies, including:

  • questions that are repetitive or uninteresting;
  • questions that deviate significantly from the main point of the passage;
  • application questions too soon before participants have had the chance to really look at the text and understand it;
  • questions that jump around from one verse to another, without a clear progression towards the application;
  • application questions that have little relevance to the lives of the group members.
  [more...]
A Strategy for Promoting the Use of the Vernacular Scriptures in the Cameroon Baptist Convention Churches in Nso’ Tribe, Cameroon
Author: Shey Samuel Ngeh

MTh thesis, South African Theological Seminary (2015)

Abstract:

This research was prompted by the observation that there is minimal use of Lamnso’ Scriptures in Baptist churches in Nso’, even though the Lamnso’ New Testament has been available since 1990. It was also observed that the active participation of Nso’ Christians in Bible studies done in Lamnso’ points to great prospects for the extensive use of Lamnso’ Scriptures.

The author of this thesis seeks to devise a strategy for promoting Lamnso’ Scriptures for extensive use. He consulted academic works to find out what others have written regarding the importance of mother tongue Scriptures and conducted a historical analysis to find out how historical factors have shaped the attitude of Baptist churches towards Scriptures in Lamnso’. He did an empirical study by sending questionnaires to fifty-seven Baptist churches, receiving feedback. The data collected was analyzed and interpreted.

The result shows that even though Lamnso’ Scriptures are indispensable to spiritual maturity among Nso’ Baptist Christians, their use in evangelism and discipleship do not reflect their importance. This is due to lack of a proper strategy and biblical teaching on the importance of mother tongue Scriptures. Consequently, the author has proposed a theological framework to provide a theological basis for setting forth a strategy for promoting Lamnso’ Scriptures.

The theological framework is followed by a practical framework based on the historical and empirical analyses, as well as the theological obligations of the church. The author contends that proposed solutions, recommendations and action plans with practical steps must be implemented by individual Baptist Christians, churches, Baptist theological institutions and the Cameroon Baptist Convention at large so that Lamnso’ Scriptures assume their proper place in evangelism and discipleship for the growth of the church.  [more...]

Assessing the benefit of local language Scriptures among the bilingual Malila and Nyiha communities of Tanzania
Author: Mark Woodward

MA dissertation: Bible & Mission, Redcliffe College, UK (2014)

Abstract:

In many ways the Malila and Nyiha are typical of Tanzania's numerous multilingual communities, where both Swahili and the local language are used as part of everyday life. Given that there are several versions of the Swahili Bible, two of which are generally available in the larger cities, it is often unclear as to what, if any, benefit will be gained from the long and arduous task of translating Scripture portions into the local language.

In this study I first look at the impact of translated Scriptures throughout the history of the church, and what insights might be gained from the sociolinguistic literature concerning the way multilingual communities use and perceive each language that they speak. I then carry out research among the Malila and Nyiha communities, asking them what they feel has been the impact of having access to Scriptures in their local languages in addition to the Swahili Bible. Finally I discuss the perspectives shared by the community members and church leaders, making recommendations for decision makers in other multilingual communities who may be considering translating Scriptures into their local language.

This study concludes that the benefits of translation may extend far beyond simply an increase in comprehension, and so decision makers would do well to bear in mind the fact that sociolinguistic principles play a significant role in how Scriptures are perceived, and should therefore be fully considered when contemplating how a community might best access the Bible.

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

Marriage and culture in West Africa in the light of the Scriptures
Author: Michael Jemphrey, 2015

Michael Jemphrey describes a recent Gospel and Marriage workshop held in West Africa. It brought together the domains of Scripture engagement and anthropology, demonstrating the relevance of the translated Scriptures in addressing local cultural issues.

The workshop included:

  • Discussion of contextualisation and syncretism in the Bible and church history.
  • Overview of marriage in the Old and New Testaments.
  • Presentation of anthropological research methods.
  • Case studies of marriage challenges from different countries in West Africa.
  • Study of several problematic areas of marriage in West Africa in the light of the Scriptures (polygamy, levirate marriage, divorce and remarriage, bride price and the cost of weddings).
  • Research in groups of six delicate questions in the realm of marriage and proposals for contextualised local practices.
  • Production of radio programmes to present each challenge and proposal to the local populations.

Download the workshop description as a PDF document.  [more...]

Stories of Trauma and Healing
Published by: American Bible Society, 2014

Hope Rising documents transformed lives of trauma survivors who have found hope and healing through the Bible’s message of forgiveness and restoration.

"...people here and around the world suffering from the aftermath of trauma could never connect with the Bible in their current state. Without addressing the issue of trauma then much of the rest of the work of providing the Bible is in vain."

Around the world, 1 in 7 people have experienced the pain and horror of a traumatic event. In the Democratic Republic of the Congo, the country with the highest rate of sexual violence in the world, the rate of trauma is much higher. Trauma is a barrier to engaging with the Bible.

On the American Bible Society's Hope Rising website (HopeRising.tv) you can find the full and shortened versions of the documentary, together with a Bible study guide, sermon topics and discussion resources for churches.  [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...]

A simple guide to begin or advance your use of mobiles
Published by: International Mission Board (2014)

The heart of ministry is relationship. While mobile devices offer capabilities in mass sharing of the Gospel, they are ultimately a great tool for effective ongoing outreach and in building relationships.

Updated edition, September 2014

If you're looking for an introduction to using mobile phones in Christian ministry - both feature phones and smartphones, the updated Mobile Ministry Made Easy handbook is a great place to start.

It takes you through the basics, pointing you in the direction of helpful resources and suggesting strategic approaches to using the mobile phone to facilitate Scripture engagement in evangelism, discipleship, leadership development and equipping new churches.

Included in the guide is: an overview of using microSD cards and Bluetooth to share Scripture content, preparing videos for mobile distribution, advice on choosing a device and accessories, and guidelines on safety and security.  [more...]