Scripture Engagement Essentials

Eradicating Bible poverty and Bible ignorance
Author: From the Third Lausanne Congress on World Evangelization, October 2010

The Lausanne Movement has published the second part of the Cape Town Commitment, 'A Call to Action'. It includes a section on eradicating Bible poverty and Bible ignorance, calling for Bible translation, Bible teaching and Bible literacy:

"C) Aim to eradicate Bible poverty in the world, for the Bible remains indispensable for evangelism. To do this we must:

  1. Hasten the translation of the Bible into the languages of peoples who do not yet have any portion of God’s Word in their mother tongue;
  2. Make the message of the Bible widely available by oral means...

D) Aim to eradicate Bible ignorance in the Church, for the Bible remains indispensable for discipling believers into the likeness of Christ.

  1. We long to see a fresh conviction, gripping all God’s Church, of the central necessity of Bible teaching for the Church’s growth in ministry, unity and maturity...
  2. We must promote Bible literacy among the generation that now relates primarily to digital communication rather than books, by encouraging digital methods of studying the scriptures inductively with the depth of inquiry that at present requires paper, pens and pencils."

For the full text of the Cape Town Commitment, go to the Lausanne web site:  [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...]

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: Harriet Hill

Not only do we not know about the state of Scripture Use in our projects, we often don’t even know how many New Testaments or Bibles have been sold.

In an effort to define progress and success in Scripture Use, Hill proposes both national and project level goals. She then addresses the specifics on how to carry them out in an effective and sensitive manner. An appendix containing a survey of questions to the point is offered.  [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...]

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...]