Churches

Author: John Ommani

"Pastors have taken on the 'lecture' method to display the 'big man' syndrome which does not allow the people to engage. They are expected to sit and listen and remain silent. They feel this is how the church has to operate. The pastor simply tells them what the Bible says and what they need to do. They are not able to live out what they are told because they still have unanswered questions."

The model of the pastor as 'big man' who knows it all means that people have to sit and listen, and often this does not lead to engagement with Scripture in life-transforming ways. In many traditional cultures, leaders taught through stories, questions, and riddles, allowing people to interact and discover. Can pastors today learn to use discovery methods in the church that allow people to interact with Scripture and discover lessons for themselves? This article says yes, with field experience from Africa to demonstrate it.  [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...]

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...]

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...]

What future is there for the Bible in our churches?
Author: Henri Bacher

"The greatest difficulty is no longer distribution, but appropriating the content of the Bible... There is a need to teach believers to meditate and, as in any learning process, you have to give regular booster injections if you want people to continue. We have often rambled on about the Bible, in sermons and Bible studies, but have we truly helped Christians to engage with the Bible in their day-to-day living?"

In this article, Henri Bacher describes some of the reasons for the erosion of Bible practice in the church and in believers' lives. Rather than starting with communication techniques, his suggested solutions major on the value of community. The idea is to encourage group interaction, networking and mutual encouragement, helping others to enter into regular, personal meditation.  [more...]

Reading big chunks of Scripture, out loud, together
Author: Carl Laferton
Published by: The Briefing, 3 November 2011

"What we are trying to do is say we want our people to know the Scripture — and how will they know the Scriptures other than by reading it? And what’s the best way to read it? I’m convinced that it’s designed to be read in big chunks, out loud, with people getting together."

Cornerstone Church in Kingston, UK, have embarked on 'The Big Read'. The idea is to read one book of the Bible each month, together in small groups.

On the first Sunday of the month, the pastor preaches an overview of the book. Then at the midweek prayer meeting, they read the first few chapters together, leaving the rest for the small groups during the other weeks of the month. They've put together a series of 10 questions to help them reflect on what they're reading.

For more details, see the article in The Briefing, which contains some provocative thoughts on Bible reading from Cornerstone's pastor, Pete Woodcock.  [more...]

Read the Story. Experience the Bible.
Published by: Zondervan / Hodder & Stoughton (2011)

What is 'The Story'? It is both a book and a campaign.

The book is an abridged version of the NIV Bible, arranging the Biblical narrative in chronological order in 31 chapters. Bridging paragraphs with some explanation are included between the selections of Bible text. There are no verse numbers. A few psalms appear in the chapter on David's life, and Proverbs in the chapter on Solomon. Extracts from Paul's letters appear in the chapter of stories from the book of Acts.

As well as the main version of the book designed for adults, there are also versions for teens and for different ages of children (2-5s, 4-8s, 9-12s).

The campaign is a call for churches to take up 'The Story' as a journey through the Bible for all ages - to encourage people to grasp the Bible narrative and how the different parts of the Bible fit together. There are teaching notes for pastors and group leaders as well as video clips. This could be a 31-week series to go through the whole Story, or churches could adapt parts of it according to their needs.

One of the challenges of producing an abridged Bible is to know which passages to include and which to leave out. Not everyone will agree on the choices made. For example, The Story misses out the Tower of Babel. It would be interesting to compare different panoramic/abridged Bible products as to the decisions they have made.  [more...]

Manuel pour faire un bon usage de la Bible dans chaque langue et culture
Authors: Harriet Hill, Margaret Hill
Published by: Presses Bibliques Africaines (2011)

"Ce manuel est un guide efficace pour une bonne préparation à l'étude biblique, à la méditation, à la prédication intégrant les réalitiés culturelles de chaque peuple."

This is the French version of the book Translating the Bible into Action by Harriet Hill and Margaret Hill. It is also available in Portuguese.

The French version can be obtained from Wycliffe Benin in Cotonou or from the SU department of SIL in Nairobi.  [more...]