Research Results

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...]

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...]