Scripture Engagement Essentials

Author: Research conducted by Barna Group
Published by: American Bible Society (2017)

"Americans believe the nation is in moral decline, but they see hope for change in the pages of Scripture, according to the 2017 State of the Bible survey."

The "State of the Bible" is an annual report commissioned by American Bible Society and conducted by the Barna Group. According to this year’s survey, general trends skew positively toward both Bible engagement and perceptions of the Bible.

Here are some of the research findings:

  • Half of Americans are ‘Bible users’ – that is, they engage with the Bible by reading, listening to or praying with the Bible on their own at least three to four times a year (50%).
  • Nearly one-third of adults say they never read, listen to or pray with the Bible (32%), a five-percentage point increase over 2016.
  • The King James Version continues to be the version Bible users prefer most often, with 31% using this translation.
  • 58% of Americans wish they spent more time reading or listening to the Bible.
  • More than one half (56%) of those who report an increase in Bible readership attribute it to their understanding that Bible reading is an important part of their faith journey.
  • The top reason for decreased Bible reading continues to be being too busy with life’s responsibilities.
  • Most Bible users (91%) still prefer to use a print version of the Bible when engaging with scripture, yet an equal number (92%) report using another Bible format than print in the past year.
  • As expected, younger generations prefer to use their smartphones to access the Bible more than other generations. More than one in four Millennials (27%) prefer their phone compared to one in five (20%) Gen-Xers, 7% of Boomers and just 3% of Elders.

The full report is available as a free PDF download.  [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...]

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...]

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...]

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...]

Regnum Edinburgh Centenary Series
Author: Pauline Hoggarth, Fergus Macdonald, Bill Mitchell, Knud Jørgensen (eds.)
Published by: Regnum Books International, 2013

“The Bible is alive – it has hands and grabs hold of me, it has feet and runs after me”. Thus spoke Martin Luther, as cited by Knud Jørgensen in a quotation that summarizes the deeper meaning of this book. To the authors of Bible in Mission, the Bible is the book of life, and mission is life in the Word. (from the Foreword)

Bible in Mission is a rich collection of essays from around the world on the theme of 'Bible and mission - mission in the Bible'. They come as a follow-up to the missiological discussions of Edinburgh 2010. A glance at the contents page should be enough to convince all involved in Scripture Engagement that this book, now available as a free PDF download, is a must-read.

Introduction

The Bible in Mission - and the Surprising Ways of God (Ole Christian Kvarme)
The Bible as Text for Mission (Tim Carriker)
The Bible in Mission in the World and in the Church
The World
The Bible in Mission: The Modern/Postmodern Western Context (Richard Bauckham)
The Bible in Mission in the Islamic Context (Kenneth Thomas)
The Bible in Christian Mission among the Hindus (Lalsangkima Pachuau)
Children, Mission and the Bible: A Global Perspective (Wendy Strachan)
The Church
The Bible in Mission: Evangelical/Pentecostal View (Antonia Leonora van der Meer)
Bible Hermeneutics in Mission - A Western Protestant Perspective (Michael Kisskalt)
Orthodox Perspective on Bible and Mission (Simon Crisp)
'Ignorantia Scripturae ignorantia Christi est' (Thomas P. Osborne)
Case Studies
Africa
Baku Bible Translation and Oral Biblical Narrative Performance (Dan Fitzgerald)
The UBS HIV Good Samaritan Program (David Hammond and Immanuel Kofi Agamah)
The Bible and the Poor (Gerald West)
The Bible and Care of Creation (Allison Howell)
Asia-Pacific
'Text of Life' and 'Text for Life': The Bible as the Living and Life-Giving Word of God for the Dalits (Peniel J. Rufus Rajkumar)
Bible Missions in China (Pamela Wan-Yen Choo)
The Impact and Role of The Bible in Big Flowery Miao Community (Suee Yan Yu)
Bible Engagement among Australian Young People (Philip Hughes)
Latin America
The Bible and Children in Mission (Edseio Sanchez Cetina)
Bible Translation, the Quechua People and Protestant Church Growth in the Andes (Bill Mitchell)
The Bible in Mission: Women Facing the Word (Elsa Tamez)
West
Biblical Advocacy - Advocating the Bible in an Alien Culture (David Spriggs and Sue Coyne)
Scripture Engagement and Living Life as a Message (Steve Bird)
Reading the Bible with Today's Jephthahs: Scripture and Mission at Tierra Nueva (Bob Ekblad)
Lessons Learned from the REVEAL Spiritual Life Survey (Nancy Scammacca Lewis)
Glazed Eyes and Disbelief (Adrian Blenkinsop and Naomi Swindon)
Information Management and Delivery of the Bible (Paul Soukup)
Conclusion
The Bible as the Core of Mission: '...for the Bible tells me so' (Knud Jørgensen)
 
  [more...]