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...]

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...]

GIAL Electronic Notes Series Vol. 6 No. 1 (April 2012)
Author: David M Federwitz
Published by: GIAL

"Bible Translation organizations for too long operated under the false assumption that if the Bible was translated, people would be changed by its message. This theory, while rightly acknowledging the power of the Holy Spirit, neglected a full understanding of other factors leading to life transformation. Personally, I am not only interested in people having access to God’s Word in the language of their heart but I am more interested in them applying it in their lives for the long term and having a flourishing relationship with God. I believe that in order for that to be fully realized, the local churches or language community must not view the language development program as belonging to the expatriate or sources outside the community."

This article reports on a study looking at the relationship between local ownership and sustainable use of Scripture to determine if more local ownership of a language development program leads to more sustainable use of Scripture. Other issues were also studied in order to more fully understand their relationship with ongoing Scripture use. In the end, it was discovered that indigenous language learning by expatriate language development program workers, capacity building for indigenous language development workers and the length of time since the completion of a language development program were important indicators of sustainable Scripture use.  [more...]

Historical and hermeneutical study of ordinary "readers" transactions with the Bible.
Author: Mote Paulo Magomba
Published by: University of KwaZulu-Natal, Pietermaritzburg - MTh thesis (2004)

Abstract:
This study falls within the area of the Bible in African Christianity, particularly ordinary readers' appropriation of and interpretation of the Bible. It seeks to explore, firstly, the processes of the encounter between the Bible and the indigenous people of Tanzania, specifically the Gogo in central region. Secondly, this thesis seeks to identify some interpretative resources and emerging interpretative practices that have continued into the present of ordinary readers of the Bible.

This exploration is done by tracing the mission activities of the Church Missionary Society (CMS) in Tanzania, which began in 1844. The work of the Universities Mission to Central Africa (UMCA) is also examined, particularly the role it has played in making the Book "open" to the indigenous, through translation.

Although there is continuity between past and present readings, this thesis demonstrates that ordinary readings are not static, they are dynamic; and over the years neo-indigenous interpretative moves have emerged which are a combination of both missionary and indigenous interpretative resources and methods. This reality is evident in the contemporary phenomenon of women and youths' songs in central Tanzania. These songs are creative interpretations of the Bible from an ordinary readers' perspective.  [more...]