Research Results

Online and Off-Course
Published by: OneHope (2020)

"Unfortunately, it seems that instead of turning to sources of actual truth found in God’s Word, pastors, and the Church, our youth are doing Google and YouTube searches to find the answers for who they are and what is their purpose. Their confusion is not new. In fact, I think today’s teens closely resemble doubting Thomas in John 14:5-6, when he asks a big life question, 'How do we know the way?'"

Global Youth Culture is a OneHope research study covering the trends and behaviors of today’s teenagers, the most connected generation. With these findings, we can recognize similarities between young people from different regions of the world. Do teenagers in Africa have similar views on identity as those in Asia? Are religious practices of the next generation in Eurasia and North America trending the same? Global Youth Culture provides a clear picture of these issues and additional diverse topics.

More than 8,300 teens from 20 countries completed an online survey for the Global Youth Culture project.

The report is available as a free download from the following link.  [more...]

Published by: American Bible Society and Barna Group (2020)

The State of the Bible 2020 research report can be downloaded as a free ebook from: sotb.research.bible.

The first four chapters of the ebook are currently available, and American Bible Society will publish additional ebook chapters every month between August and December 2020.

Here is a summary from the American Bible Society blog:

"American Bible Society today released its 10th annual State of the Bible report, which shows cultural trends in the U.S. regarding spirituality and Scripture engagement. The report reveals findings from two surveys, one conducted in January 2020 with Barna Group and another this June, that demonstrate the effects of the pandemic on the faith community. The data show that Scripture engagement has declined amid the COVID-19 outbreak, and there is a clear relationship between Scripture engagement and in-person church participation."

“Faith communities have demonstrated incredible resilience, innovation and empathy through the pandemic. But this survey reveals that a big opportunity still remains for Christian organizations to make an impact on Scripture engagement,” said American Bible Society president and CEO, Robert Briggs. “Despite nearly every individual in the U.S. having access to the Bible, engagement has decreased. That’s been a consistent trend over the past few years, and the trend has accelerated since January 2020 throughout the pandemic. The Church must transition from ‘survival’ mode back into ‘discipleship’ mode, and, yes, that’s going to take even more innovation.”

"The study shows a direct correlation between increased Scripture engagement and those efforts typically organized by a church, including mentorship programs and small group Bible studies. Church closures due to COVID-19 are therefore likely contributing to decreased rates of Scripture engagement."  [more...]

Coordinator: Jed Carter

The Scripture Engagement Research Compendium (SERC) provides brief, comparable descriptions of SE research projects conducted in minority languages around the world. It is a helpful starting point for those desiring to learn from SE research and for anyone planning SE research.

 
 

SERC was initiated in 2019 by Jed Carter, with the help of many SE researchers, including a significant number who contributed entries about their own research.

How can SERC be used?
You can sort the spreadsheet by PIQUE factor for types of research deemed relevant, by date to see how SE research has progressed, or by location to see where SE research has or hasn't been done. You can read full reports for the relevant research, and contact authors to ask how and why questions if planning similar research. You could compile a list of findings and evaluate which are likely to be true in your context.

What is PIQUE?
SERC uses the PIQUE framework, allowing for brief, comparable descriptions of research. PIQUE (Purpose, Informant, Quantitative-Qualitative, Unit of analysis, Extent of area researched) attempts to capture key aspects of research projects. In addition to helping the reader better understand what types of SE research exist, the PIQUE factors can be used to find past research projects which are similar to planned, future SE research, which enables SE researchers to build on past research.  [more...]

The Impact of Mother Tongue Scriptures from 1989-2011
Author: Asewie, Bernard Amadu

MTh Thesis, South African Theological Seminary (2013)

The major finding of the research is that the proclamation of the Gospel in the mother tongue of the people has made significant strides in the growth of Christianity among the Nchumuru people. However the Gospel proclamation among the Nchumuru often produces different responses ranging from full embrace to partial embrace as well as conflictual or negative embrace depending on how the Gospel is proclaimed and how the people understand it.

Abstract:

This thesis, Towards a Model of Contextualising Christianity in the Nchumuru Culture in Ghana: The impact of mother tongue Scriptures from 1989-2011, is a study on the impact of mother tongue Scriptures on culture and also the engagement of the Gospel with the culture of the Nchumuru people of Northern and Volta Regions of Ghana. It examines the coming of Christianity to the people and the patterns of evangelisation among the Nchumuru with special reference to the medium used in the proclamation of the Gospel. It also addresses the issue of the birth of a Bible Translation ministry among the people and the subsequent birth of the Bible into that culture and how the Nchumuru have responded to the proclamation of the Gospel as well as the impact it has had on the lives of the Nchumuru.

The writer contends that despite the challenges, indigenous Nchumuru Christianity is possible through the recognition of traditional or cultural categories as significant preparation for the reception of the Gospel. In this way the Christian faith can be articulated in the Nchumuru cultural context with the use of its thought forms and patterns in a relevant worship of God.

The major finding of the research is that the proclamation of the Gospel in the mother tongue of the people has made significant strides in the growth of Christianity among the Nchumuru people. However the Gospel proclamation among the Nchumuru often produces different responses ranging from full embrace to partial embrace as well as conflictual or negative embrace depending on how the Gospel is proclaimed and how the people understand it. There is the need for the people to perceive and respond to the Gospel in ways that are meaningful to their own understanding and experience. The significance of the impact of the mother tongue Scriptures in contextualising Christianity in the Nchumuru culture and its contribution in the evangelistic task of the church is therefore very crucial.  [more...]

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 B. (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 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...]