Engaging Different Audiences

A new way of getting people to get to grips with Scripture
Author: Steve Levy
Published by: Evangelicals Now (March 2010)

"There used to be just three people in our church reading through the Bible — now there are 150. One older lady, a believer since her 20s, had attempted to read the Bible through for years and every time had given up. ‘Now, together with everyone else, I think I’m going to do it’, she said."

Steve Levy describes how his church has divided everybody up into small groups - Read the Bible Together groups - which meet together once a month. Before coming to the group, people are asked to read or listen to a book of the Bible. They then come together to share what God has been teaching them: "We need to help each other. The Bible is written to be talked about. It grows. It is not bound."  [more...]

Promoting Scripture use in difficult environments
Author: Mary Beavon

“The illustrations captured the imagination of the children.”

Mary Beavon describes a Scripture Use activity their team used in an area of Cameroon where churches are small, travel is difficult, and people have little money. They developed Scripture Big Books (from Shell Books), which served to both teach the Bible and promote literacy. They were used in churches and open air. Though it is not a sustainable activity, it provides useful manuscripts and exposes people to written forms of the Bible.  [more...]

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...]
In Swahili, English, and translatable into other languages
Author: Katherine O'Donnell (2018)

This is a simple children's Sunday school curriculum, outlining the Bible passage to use, some key teaching and application points and a memory verse for each lesson.

It is hoped that a teacher may use this in conjunction with Mark’s gospel in their language. It is based on Mark as this is often the first gospel to be translated by Bible translation teams in Tanzania.

The final approved and formatted version is the Swahili one, however the written content of the English one is the same and can be used as a source text for translating into other languages.  [more...]

Author: Ellen Errington (2016)

The experience of going to church is largely an oral one in any culture. This is perfectly acceptable and appropriate, but there are ways that the experience of participating in church activities can be complementary to developing literacy skills and literate practice for daily life.

In this paper, Ellen Errington applies the concept of scaffolding to the task of teaching people from oral cultures the skills of reading and writing. By supporting the learner through these means, literate practice may seem less foreign and new avenues of communication may be opened up. Scaffolding techniques are really just good teaching practices, but for learners from oral cultures, literacy teachers need to use them more often and more intentionally to build success.

The church, though primarily an oral setting, can also be a setting for supporting literate practice, including Bible ‘literacy,’ for all church members. The inclusion of scaffolding techniques for oral literacy learners in the church setting can bring excitement and deeper understanding to all who participate.  [more...]

A Case Study in the Role of the Translation Organization
Author: John L Ommani

When the Bible remains silent about certain cultural features, the Church... should assist the Christians to think through their traditions by digging deeper.

In the Tharaka society of Kenya, female circumcision has held a prominent place. In recent years Christian Tharaka people have questioned whether the rite should continue. The Bible Translation and Literacy agency has had a part in helping the society look at this rite from a biblical perspective. This article chronicles the history of the rite, including both its positive elements and problems, and some alternatives are presented.  [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...]