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Bible Engagement SWOT Analysis

What are the strengths, weaknesses, opportunities and threats to Bible Engagement? The Bible Research Summit researchers and practitioners generated, in no particular order or categorization, these thoughts and comments:

  • God shows up in the divine reading of the Word
  • Bible engagement should help people encounter Jesus through the Scriptures
  • Political and theological views have a powerful effect on the beliefs and behaviours that impact Bible engagement
  • We need communities of encounter and enabling in order to foster Bible engagement
  • Good theology is essential for Bible engagement to survive and thrive
  • People live into the plausibility structures of different communities and agencies/churches developing/providing Bible engagement resources need to understand how this impacts the creation of resources
  • Religious communities profoundly influence how we engage with the Bible
  • Something more than Bible reading is needed to drive/shape reaching out to others
  • An encounter with Christ is a necessary and vital part of Bible engagement
  • Research reveals that engaging with the Bible correlates with a positive change in people’s lives
  • Bible engagement enables people to embody Christ authentically, in the world, as His agents of reconciliation and social transformation
  • The focus of Bible engagement should always be Jesus
  • Bible engagement often happens in “the valley”
  • The Bible is well engaged when a community understands the overall story and accepts the invitation to take up its own role in the great drama
  • Bible engagement changes an individual’s life – one’s direction, thinking and actions
  • Measuring the frequency of Bible reading doesn’t necessarily measure Bible engagement
  • Bible engagement should include a prophetic response to the times
  • Our actions and attitudes are measures of Bible engagement
  • Bible engagement restores, renews and equips people in community
  • The best thing the church can do, out of all the things they can do to facilitate spiritual health and growth, is to help people reflect on the Bible more than they do
  • Bible engagement is closely related to a life of reflection and community
  • The Holy Spirit is the inspiration and agent of Bible engagement
  • Confirmation of Bible engagement is seen in people’s lives when they are connected with, coming alive to, are tied to, are investing in, being submitted to, are reliant on, are receiving from, and acting in line with the One of whom the Bible speaks, Jesus Christ
  • There are differences in how people engage with Scripture, and Bible engagement varies across different stages on the spiritual journey
  • Bible engagement impacts one’s spiritual maturity more than every other discipleship attribute combined

Have your say. What would you add to the Bible engagement SWOT analysis above?

[These thoughts and comments are collectively attributed to: Chris Armas, Lizette Beard, Chad Causey, Steven Bird, Mark Forshaw, David Kinnaman, Nancy Lewis, Jason Malec, Lawson Murray, Pam Ovwigho, Glenn Paauw, Tyler Prieb, Angela Rogers]

© Scripture Union Canada 2015

2 Corinthians 4:5

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Working Definitions of Bible Engagement

In ongoing efforts to understand the nature and scope of Bible engagement, researchers and practitioners at the recent Bible Research Summit drafted the following three working definitions:

1. Bible engagement is encountering God/Jesus through a process/lifestyle of quality interaction in/with the Story as part of a lifestyle of living in and living out of the Story so that individuals and communities are transformed. [This is a cyclical process. That is, individuals and communities continuously reengage/encounter God/Jesus through a process/lifestyle of quality interaction in/with the Story as part of a lifestyle of living in and out of the Story].

2. Bible engagement occurs when the big Story of God/Jesus/humanity, motivated by its authority or its potential relevance (passion vs. scepticism), occasionally or through some habitual practice, which includes various media (e.g. reading, audio, groups, etc.) that contain Scripture content and an application of/resulting in a response to the Word which cultivates transformation in individuals and communities.

3. Bible engagement occurs when circumstances or posture inspired by the Holy Spirit combine to create desire to discover/explore the story of how God engages humanity through habitual seeking of the Word through various mediums (individual, group, audio, visual, written) resulting in transformation that is Christocentric/Christ-like.

Taken together, and simply stated, the three definitions identify Bible engagement as:

An encounter with God/Jesus

that is a motivated/inspired interaction with God’s Story

that includes various media

that involves an individual or communal activity/response/application

that cultivates/results in transformation


* The Bible Research Summit was hosted by the American Bible Society

* The goal of the Summit was to discuss the history, current practices and future needs of measuring Bible engagement

* The researchers and practitioners were:

Chris Armas – Code for the Kingdom

Lizette Beard – LifeWay Research

Steven Bird – Taylor University

Chad Causey – OneHope

Mark Forshaw – Global Scripture Impact

David Kinnaman – Barna Group

Nancy Lewis – REVEAL

Jason Malec – American Bible Society

Lawson Murray – Scripture Union

Pam Ovwigo – Center for Bible Engagement

Glenn Paauw – Biblica

Tyler Prieb – OneHope

Angela Rogers – Connection Media


© Scripture Union Canada 2015

2 Corinthians 4:5

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