Research Results

Author: Bettina Gottschlich
Published by: Fuller Theological Seminary, Doctor of Intercultural Studies dissertation (2012)

Abstract:
This dissertation contributes to the missiological conversation on transformational Scripture engagement. Translation into the mother–tongue and good distribution by themselves are insufficient to enable multi–lingual Budu believers of Congo–Kinshasa translate the Bible into action and changed lives. Literature surveyed on Scripture engagement, biblical theology of mission and contextualization revealed that effectiveness seems to be handicapped by the lack of connecting and integrating the people’s story in its wider historical context into God’s story, as presented in the totality of Scripture and understood through relevant themes and motifs. In light of a history of a largely non–contextualized gospel, the model of biblical theology in context including creative solutions to language in a multilingual environment could offer a way forward.

This qualitative research identifies and documents Scripture resources that enable life–transforming Scripture engagement among Budu believers from their point of view. It further identifies measurable indicators that determine what constitutes verifiably effective engagement. The research methodology consisted of qualitative methods to collect and grounded theory to analyze the data from 36 interviews and 36 focus groups, participant observation and document research, representing the whole of the Budu region and its church leadership. The findings revealed the emic view that I classify in two key themes of “People” as Scripture resources and “Ministry” Scripture resources.

The data collected is used to develop a change strategy together with Budu leadership to enable Budu believers encounter God’s Word in life–transforming ways using context–appropriate Scripture resources. My recommendations call for two important changes: (1) altering our comprehension of what constitutes a Scripture resource; (2) using this knowledge to enable Budu believers complete God’s story in a way that it becomes “readable” through the messengers individually and communally and communicated through appropriated means of communication. I specifically address the issue of leaders as promoters of transformation in the largely but not only communal and oral context of African believers. As these leaders find their place within God’s story, and become “living Scripture resources”, credible conveyers of the Word of God, they will be able to lead others towards life–transforming engagement with Scripture.

-- For information about this dissertation, please contact Bettina Gottschlich at bettinagottschlichatgmail [dot] com  [more...]

Author: Kyria Baldwin (2019)

"Almost all of the Christians interviewed reported a preference for reading print Scriptures. This preference was in contrast specifically to 1) individualized listening to audio recordings of Scripture or 2) listening to someone else reading Scripture aloud."

This article by Kyria Baldwin is a reflection on research into the motivations for literacy in Senegal. Among the Christians interviewed, the overwhelming majority expressed a preference for reading the Scriptures rather than listening to audio Scriptures or hearing someone else read to them. This was accompanied by a general opinion that reading Scripture is necessary for a Christian to mature and to grow spiritually. They also reported ten main inconveniences or inadequacies regarding audio recordings or listening to someone else reading.

The author was surprised by these findings since many Christians in Senegal are unable to read the Bible. She proposes two possible interpretations, recognizing the importance of literacy and also seeing the need for a more nuanced understanding of the value of oral communication of the Scriptures for spiritual growth.

The article is available to download in both English and French.  [more...]

Authors: David Ford, Joshua Mann, Peter Phillips
Published by: Routledge (2019)

From the book description:

The Bible and Digital Millennials explores the place of the Bible in the lives of 18 to 35 year-olds who have been born into the digital age. As the use of digital media becomes increasingly pervasive, it should follow that it will have a significant effect on people’s engagement with religion and the sacred texts associated with it. Drawing on contemporary in-depth surveys, this study unpacks digital millennials’ stance towards, use of and engagement with the Bible in both offline and online settings.

The book features results from a nationally representative survey of 2,000 young British people specifically commissioned for this project. The data is also compared with the findings of others, including a poll of 850 British Bible-centric Christians and recent Bible engagement surveys from the USA.

This book investigates the relevance of the Bible to the lives of those who have grown up in the digital age. It will, therefore, offer fresh insight to any scholar of biblical studies, religion and digital media, and religious studies.  [more...]

Research conducted among U.S. adults
Author: Barna Group
Published by: American Bible Society (2019)

This report contains the findings from a nationwide study in the United States, commissioned by the American Bible Society and conducted by Barna Group.

Here are some of the findings:

  • One in six adults (16%) reports using the Bible every day, while another 14% use it several times a week. Another 9% of the population use the Bible once a week, 7% use it once a month, compared to 6% who use it three to four times a year, and 18% who use it less often. Roughly one in three (31%) say they never use the Bible.
  • The most commonly cited top frustration when it comes to reading the Bible is not having enough time to use it (19%). Less than half as many cite language that is difficult to relate to (8%). Other frustrations mentioned include not knowing where to start (6%), not feeling excited to use it (6%), and a lack of understanding for the background or history of the Bible (4%).
  • Overall, 59% of Americans agree that the Bible has transformed their life, including 26% of adults who agree strongly. Roughly two in five adults (42%) say the Bible has not transformed their lives.
  • The use of a physical copy of the Bible remains strong at 91%. More than half of Bible users have also used the Internet on a computer to read Bible content (55%) or searched for Bible verses or Bible content on their phone (56%), and another 44% have downloaded or used a Bible app on their smartphone.
  • All Bible users, regardless of age, prefer a print version of the Bible. However, one in four Millennials (27%) and Gen X adults (26%) prefers to use their phone or tablet, compared to 9% of Boomers and 2% of Elders who prefer a hand-held electronic device.
  • Bible ownership corresponds with age: the older a person is, the more likely they are to own a Bible in a language they can understand. More than nine in 10 Elders (92%) own an understandable Bible, while 85% of Boomers, 82% of Gen X, and 75% of Millennial households do.

Download the full report from the American Bible Society website.  [more...]

An Exploration of the Ordinary Hermeneutics and Faith of Generation Y
Author: Ruth Perrin
Published by: Pickwick Publications (2016)

From the book’s description:

"Young evangelicals in Britain often find themselves at odds with an increasingly secular society, and yet the tradition persists and in some places flourishes. Sociological studies into the faith of this demographic group are rare, yet there is much to be explored as to how their faith functions and how it compares to other groups globally. Similarly, given the privilege evangelicals afford the biblical text, how young believers engage with the ancient Scriptures they understand to be "the word of God" is particularly significant.

"This work addresses that core question. How do young evangelicals make sense of the Bible today? Based on qualitative data gathered from three diverse evangelical churches it compares the reading priorities, ordinary hermeneutics, and theological concerns of young adults. Presenting age-related focus groups with challenging biblical narratives, the study compares strategies for negotiating the texts based on age, gender, and churchmanship. It provides a unique insight into the realities of Bible reading and the faith of "Generation Y" and gives food for thought not only to those with scholarly interests, but also those with a pastoral concern to shape and sustain the Christian faith of young adults in Britain and beyond."

Available in print and as a Kindle e-book.  [more...]

Author: Research conducted by Barna Group
Published by: American Bible Society (2017)

"Americans believe the nation is in moral decline, but they see hope for change in the pages of Scripture, according to the 2017 State of the Bible survey."

The "State of the Bible" is an annual report commissioned by American Bible Society and conducted by the Barna Group. According to this year’s survey, general trends skew positively toward both Bible engagement and perceptions of the Bible.

Here are some of the research findings:

  • Half of Americans are ‘Bible users’ – that is, they engage with the Bible by reading, listening to or praying with the Bible on their own at least three to four times a year (50%).
  • Nearly one-third of adults say they never read, listen to or pray with the Bible (32%), a five-percentage point increase over 2016.
  • The King James Version continues to be the version Bible users prefer most often, with 31% using this translation.
  • 58% of Americans wish they spent more time reading or listening to the Bible.
  • More than one half (56%) of those who report an increase in Bible readership attribute it to their understanding that Bible reading is an important part of their faith journey.
  • The top reason for decreased Bible reading continues to be being too busy with life’s responsibilities.
  • Most Bible users (91%) still prefer to use a print version of the Bible when engaging with scripture, yet an equal number (92%) report using another Bible format than print in the past year.
  • As expected, younger generations prefer to use their smartphones to access the Bible more than other generations. More than one in four Millennials (27%) prefer their phone compared to one in five (20%) Gen-Xers, 7% of Boomers and just 3% of Elders.

The full report is available as a free PDF download.  [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...]

Mapping Bible Engagement Across a Changing Culture
Published by: Barna, 2016

From the Publisher's description:

The Bible in America is a multiyear survey of attitudes toward and perceptions of the Bible, set against the backdrop of a changing cultural landscape. Commissioned by American Bible Society, Barna researchers have conducted more than 14,000 interviews with U.S. teens and adults since 2011 to discover:

  • How do Americans define the Bible?
  • Do they believe it is authoritative for their lives? And in what ways?
  • What is the nation’s current state of biblical literacy?
  • How often do people read, hear and study the Scriptures?
  • What does the data suggest about the future of Bible engagement?
  • How is technology changing the ways people relate to the Bible?
  • Are there significant differences between generations or other demographic groups?

The findings reveal that orienting ourselves toward the Bible is one of the most urgent tasks for today’s Church. The Bible in America offers analysis, insights and encouragement to leaders who want to understand how people engage with the Scriptures today and how to cultivate biblical faith that lasts in an ever-changing world.

Full color report with infographics. 173 pages.
Available as a printed book or an e-book. Price: $40.  [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...]

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...]