New Media

Theories and themes emerging from the World Wide Scripture Engagement Consultation
Author: Stephen Opie

"There is clear confusion among Christians about why they should read the Bible. For many, who have lived a Christian life without much engagement with the Bible, there is no perceived need to engage with it."

This paper, fruit of the recent WWSE Think Tank, seeks to engage with the 'Bible Engagement Crisis' in contexts where Bible availability is high but Bible use is relatively low. The focus is on the emerging generation who are less likely to use the Bible than the generations before them, especially using traditional methods.

After presenting the challenge, Stephen Opie outlines some of the strategic themes emerging, such as:

  • establishing relevance by listening first;
  • embracing technology, especially the Internet;
  • identifying grassroots movements and helping them to grow.
  [more...]
The Most Common Avenue to Increased Scripture Engagement
Author: T. Wayne Dye
Published by: International Journal of Frontier Missions (26.3 Fall 2009)

The choice of medium can make a difference, and better artistic quality enhances any communication. However, the most important quality is how relevant the message seems to be to the lives of its hearers. If a hearer (or reader or viewer) thinks the message can make an important difference in his life, he will make an effort to listen, even if the quality is poor. Conversely, if he thinks it says nothing personally relevant, he will ignore even the best presented message. This principle of personal relevance is critical to communication.

Wayne Dye expands upon his third condition for Scripture Engagement:

Accessible forms: People are able to read the Scriptures or hear them from others or by listening to electronic media.

The article describes different ways of making the Scriptures more accessible: storying, literacy, local performing and visual arts, audio recordings, cell phones and video.  [more...]

Author: Rev Mark Brown

So I offer the challenge: that we inhabit this digital space, become part of the culture and learn the language of what Marc Prensky calls the, 'Digital Natives'. Those of us who have adopted technology later in life he describes as, 'Digital Immigrants' and like anyone immigrating to a new country, there is a need to learn.

Mark Brown, CEO of Bible Society New Zealand, outlines some of the cultural shifts that need to be understood in order to encourage Scripture engagement among 'digital natives'.

At Bible Society New Zealand in response to the appalling Bible engagement rates amongst Christians we wanted to find out, 'Why don’t people read there Bible more often?' The overwhelming reason is that people are distracted, their attention drawn to other things as they scan their environment.

To stimulate conversation, the author presents some provocative predictions of how the web might influence the production, understanding and appreciation of the Bible.

The paper was presented at the symposium: Christianity in the Digital Space, at St. John's College, Durham, UK, July 2009. Notes on the subsequent discussion can be found here.  [more...]

Author: Lamar Vest (President and CEO, American Bible Society)
Published by: The Huffington Post (11 May 2010)

"The Bible has yet to beat the perception of being a dusty old rule book among millennials largely because to substantiate relevance and garner interest, the text first must be read... The message of the Bible is unchanging, but how we deliver that message not only can change, but must."

Lamar Vest discusses some of the strategies the American Bible Society is using to encourage the millennial generation to engage with the Scriptures, including creative delivery methods and "new tools that put the user in the driver's seat of their Bible experience".  [more...]

Authors: Keith Williams, Leith Gray
Published by: International Journal of Frontier Missions (27.3 July-Sept 2010)

"What we had failed to notice was that these nomads already had media players—their mobile phones! They were using them to listen to music and poetry as well as view videos. This realization changed our strategy, so we now start out by sharing individual Scripture stories on our phone during a visit, and then transfer it by Bluetooth to those who are interested."

This inspiring article encourages us to take advantage of the revolution in mobile phone technology to bring the message of Scripture to peoples around the world. The authors provide lots of examples of how mobile phones can be used.

For example: "When I walk out the door these days I’m blessed to have short selections of the audio panoramic Bible in the language of my people, as well as 40+ videos of Bible stories from creation to the crucifixion. In addition, I have numerous spiritual poems and musical Psalms ready and waiting in my pocket should the right opportunity arise. The great thing is that viewing and sharing photos, music, and videos on mobile phone is now so common among the people group I live among that whipping out my phone and sharing one of these video or audio files with them is completely natural!"  [more...]

How interconnectivity helps us better engage the Bible
Author: Robert C. Crosby
Published by: Christianity Today (June 2012)

"Not only do billions around the world now have access to the Bible online, and not only are many of them actually reading it, they're also actively engaging with the Word of God—and with one another in far flung virtual communities across the planet.

With these trends, the vocabulary of Bible dissemination is changing. For centuries, the buzzword was distribution, with a focus on quantity delivered. The new buzzword is engagement."

In this Christianity Today article, Robert Crosby examines Scripture engagement in the online world of smartphones, tablets and Facebook.

He points to four principles we can learn from online engagement:
Initiative: "Those who start simply, and simply start, rule the new roads."
Responsiveness: "The pulse of online Bible engagement is rapid response and connections."
Frequency: "To try repeatedly is vital in engaging people with Scripture online."
Saturation: "...a constant awareness of reaching broadly—that a small impact on one soul has the potential of reaching thousands more in a short span of time."  [more...]

A video-text Bible product
Published by: WatchWORD Productions

"My daily appointment with my Bible has come alive since I discovered this video Bible. God not only speaks to me as I see the words of scripture but hearing them read keeps me concentrating."

The WatchWORD Bible is an example of a video-text Bible product, where you hear can the Bible read and see the text on the screen against the background of quality video photography.

The combination of seeing and hearing aids concentration and memory.  [more...]