Scripture Engagement Essentials

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...]

Viability, reproducibility, and long term results
Author: Gregory Fisher

"We wanted the research to address fairly both the positive impact and the challenges facing the FCBH program... This research took a brutally honest look at our own program, and found factual evidence to support our contention that audio scriptures are a valuable tool for use in making disciples in oral cultures."

Greg Fisher is the Regional Manager for Africa for Hosanna/Faith Comes By Hearing. In this 43-page ebook, he describes the methodology and results of a recent research project looking into the FCBH listening group programmes in Africa.

He asks: "What use had the end user made of the FCBH program? We knew what had been introduced into the field through our trainers, but, how had the program actually been used? In what interesting ways was it contextualized in different areas of Africa? What long term impacts would the end users of the program report to our researchers? We knew the long term impacts we hoped to see; however, we wanted to know the impacts the end user reported to help us to measure impacts hoped for against actual impacts seen."

The ebook is available as a download from Smashwords.  [more...]

Published by: Roxburgh Missional Network

"The challenge for Bible translation is Scripture Engagement. A lot of translated Bibles after all that work are sitting in warehouses. Nobody knows about them, nobody wants them, they don't know what to do with them..."

Alan Roxburgh sat down with Harriet Hill in Malaysia in October 2009 to talk about her experience as the SIL International Scripture Use Coordinator. She tells stories of her experiences in Africa and her reflections on issues of language and contextualisation. Affirming the vital role of mother tongue, Harriet urges us not to worship it, but to remain focussed on Jesus Christ.  [more...]

Author: Lausanne Movement

"We affirm that the Bible is the final written word of God, not surpassed by any further revelation, but we also rejoice that the Holy Spirit illumines the minds of God’s people so that the Bible continues to speak God’s truth in fresh ways to people in every culture... We must make the Bible known by all means possible, for its message is for all people on earth. We recommit ourselves, therefore, to the ongoing task of translating, disseminating and teaching the scriptures in every culture and language, including those that are predominantly oral or non-literary."

The Lausanne Movement has published a draft of Part 1 of The Cape Town Commitment - a statement to follow on from the Lausanne Covenant (1974) and the Manilla Manifesto (1989). It includes a section entitled "We love God's Word".

The role of Scripture In Mission was a special focus at the Third Lausanne Congress on World Evangelization.

Translations are available in several languages. Part 2 (our call to action) will be published by December as a result of reflections from the Congress.  [more...]