How do we invite non-Bible readers to read the Bible? Here are six important things we need to think about and do:
Nurture trust. Some people are innately suspicious of the Bible but may consider reading it if they trust the person who shares the Story with them. Dan Kimball, in a discourse on speaking to emerging generations, says, “So our first big challenge . . . is to regain our voice by earning the trust of our hearers . . . teach the trustworthiness of Scripture” and not “by talking just one-way”.
Serve others. Jesus came among us as one who serves (cf. Luke 22:27). Coupled with the issue of trust is the problem of power and control. Christians should be servants of the world rather than its masters (cf. Luke 22:26). Actions speak louder than words. When Bible readers live the Story, non-Bible readers will be enticed to read the Story. In particular, Christian leaders should be seen to be compelled, not to build big churches or make names for themselves, but to look out for the poor, show compassion (cf. Isaiah 58:10) act justly, and walk humbly (cf. Micah 6:8).
Cultivate interaction. Due to the electronic culture and the awareness that all communication is interactive, a two-way flow of information is encrypted into people’s brains. In what Leonard Sweet describes as “the Age of Participation” it is unlikely that non-Bible readers will read the Bible if we do not cultivate ways for them to interact with it. People need to be helped to connect with the Story in relationally interdependent frameworks where there is a participatory flow of imaginative reason and metaphor.
Communicate contextually. Our language has to be right. Non-Bible readers are unlikely to read the Bible if our syntax doesn’t fit with the culture. Communities of faith must share the Story in ways that address real issues in real time with appropriate symbols and prophetic metaphor delivered in a multisensory and user-friendly manner.
Build community. Reading, learning, and living out the Bible within the relational networks and presence of a Christian community is essential because people need the strength of friendships and the practices of a faith community to adequately overcome sin and lead transformed lives.
Use new media or technology. In addition to face to face interactive communities, screen to screen connexity is a vital component in cultivating Bible engagement. For effective Bible reading and reflection to occur, community has to be developed both in church gatherings and through the internet. Flexible use of time and space is required. We must harness media and technology to reach anyone, anywhere, anytime, and in every possible way.
Have your say. What would you add or subtract from the comments above?
© Scripture Union Canada 2014