JumpIntoTheWord

Bible Engagement Blog


Leave a comment

Bible Engagement After COVID-19

I’ve recently been thinking about what happens after COVID-19. When the lockdown ends, how should churches and ministries help people connect with Jesus and His Word? Here are five brief thoughts about Bible engagement after COVID-19:

1. Building trust with people.

The pandemic has stirred up nervousness and anxiety. People are more concerned than usual about what they can or can’t do and who they can or can’t trust. Innate suspicions about the Bible may therefore increase. The big challenge on the backend of the virus will be to earn the trust of not-yet Christians. This won’t happen overnight. It will be mainly through building relational trust that we’ll get opportunities to share the Word.

2. Reconfiguring the presentation of the Bible.

Both community and technology need to be prioritized. After COVID-19, people will be looking to personalize truth through online means. The ways in which we invite participation and interaction with the Bible will be critical to successful connections being made. We must invite people to engage their character, identity and imagination with the Bible. As author Thomas Hohstadt suggests, to do this “We must risk transcending the environment we’re in … turning our backs on the pious paraphrases of the past … separating the mutable from the immutable.”

3. Interactive communities.

Interactivity will be highly valued after the pandemic, but with some social distancing. After COVID-19, we’ll be living in a new age of connectivity where we’ll network online in relationally interdependent frameworks in which there is a participatory flow of imaginative reason and metaphor. Strategies or approaches to Bible engagement after the pandemic should thus facilitate the means to invite and cultivate ways for individuals to interact with the Bible and each other as virtual communities.

4. New media or technology.

People need to get up close and personal with the Bible when they use new media or technology. We must continue exploring and creating innovative online ways to connect people with the Bible. Flexible use of time and space is required that will reach people anywhere, at any time, and every way. High-tech advancements are not an option, they’re a necessity. We must upgrade the technology harnessed to connect people during COVID-19 to facilitate easier, faster, immersive connections.

5. “To infinity … and beyond.”

Buzz Lightyear’s classic line, “To infinity … and beyond” reminds us that there are no limits. As germophobes and risk-averse people retreat to the safety of their homes, we must find ways to connect them effectively with the Scriptures. In the changed world after COVID-19 we’ll need to be smarter at how we engage people with the Bible. How can we enhance connectivity with God’s Story through virtual reality or other means? What methods will connect people living in an uncertain world with the certainty of the Word? While we don’t have all the answers, God will reveal them to us. So let’s explore every option for connecting people with Jesus and His Story.

© Scripture Union Canada 2020

2 Corinthians 4:5


Leave a comment

Sola Scriptura or Solo Scriptura?

“All Scripture is God-breathed …” 2 Timothy 3:16. The inspiration of Scripture should never be a matter of dispute among Christians, but are the Scriptures the only source for theology?

Some Christians (mainly Catholics) insist that both Scripture and church tradition, as given by the Holy Spirit, are the source for theology. Others (mainly Anabaptists and Quakers) insist that Scripture, and the Holy Spirit speaking new revelation to the individual, are the source for theology. Yet another group of Christians (mainly Evangelicals) insist that the Bible alone, as illuminated by the Holy Spirit, is the source for theology.

Each group of Christians cites the work of the Holy Spirit to legitimize their position, yet each of the views is problematic. When it’s assumed that God is the author of both Scripture and tradition equally, what happens when tradition clashes with or contradicts what the Bible says? When it’s assumed that an internal voice along with Scripture is authoritative, what happens when the internal voice says something the Bible doesn’t say? And when it’s assumed that there’s no authority other than the Bible, what happens when there’s disagreement about what the Bible says?

In considering the last question, it’s helpful to know that Protestant reformers made a distinction between the principles of “sola Scriptura” (Scripture alone) and “nuda Scriptura” (bare Scripture). “Sola Scriptura” has to do with the sufficiency of Scripture as the Christian’s supreme authority in all spiritual matters. “Nuda Scriptura” is the idea that the Bible is the Christian’s only theological authority in all spiritual matters. The best transliteration for “nuda Scriptura” today is “solo Scriptura” (just me and my Bible).

The distinction between “sola Scriptura” and “solo Scriptura” is important. The two are not the same and shouldn’t be equated. The emphasis in “sola Scriptura” is on theology being ultimately subject to the Scriptures. The emphasis in “solo Scriptura” is narrower. It gives prominence to personal interpretation removed from the Church.

“Solo Scriptura” naturally appeals to people who are suspicious of authority or individualistically inclined. The revivalist preacher Alexander Campbell (1788-1866) captured the essence of “solo Scriptura” when he said, “I have endeavored to read the Scriptures as though no one had read them before me, and I am as much on my guard against reading them today, through the medium of my own views yesterday, or a week ago, as I am against being influenced by any foreign name, authority, or system whatever.”

People are in error if they outright reject the theological insights of others in favour of their own interpretations. They’re also dangerous and divisive. Dangerous because “solo Scriptura” subjects theology to the whims and frailty of subjectivism, and divisive because “solo Scriptura” has no court of appeal for theological disagreements.

“Sola Scriptura”, on the other hand, depends on a communal reading of the Scriptures. It does this by interacting with the theological insights and understanding of Christians past and present. No man or woman is an island to himself or herself. “Sola scriptura” recognizes that while Scripture is the final authority to judge Christian doctrine and practice, it’s not the only resource for theology. That is, “sola Scriptura” identifies that the core convictions of the Church, as long as they don’t compete with or supplement the Scriptures, are essential resources for biblical interpretation, theological reflection, and interdenominational dialogue.

So what happens when there’s disagreement about what the Bible says? While there are no easy answers, it’s naïve to think that just me and my Bible is more than enough. We need one another. We need, with the Scriptures as the primary authority, to tap into the exegetical insights, doctrinal clarity, and pastoral perceptions of Christians through the ages.

© Scripture Union Canada 2020

2 Corinthians 4:5


6 Comments

Reboot

The coronavirus has shut down the system. Everything has been disrupted, upended or unsettled. Isolated from one another, we’re uncertain, disorientated, anxious, overwhelmed, or sorrowful. As the storm surges, we’re scrambling to adjust. As we struggle to understand, we’re trying to figure out what to do.

COVID-19 is one of the most dangerous diseases that we’ll face in our lifetime. Things are going to be different for some time. Yet it’s not all bad news. While a vaccine is being developed, it’s a chance to reboot.

Reboot is a computer term. When a computer malfunctions, the operating system is shut down, fixed, then restarted to get it back up and running.

Opportunities to recalibrate are usually rare. The limitations imposed by COVID-19, while devastating, open the door to new prospects and possibilities. Now that we have some time on our hands, what will we do with it?

To begin, we shouldn’t waste time trying to explain the unexplainable. Asking why God has allowed this pandemic to happen won’t make much of a difference. Instead of looking for reasons, we should recover the biblical practice of lament. As the Anglican theologian, N. T. Wright reminds us, “it is part of the Christian vocation not to be able to explain—and to lament instead.”

We should also recognize that along with the world, we’re all broken. When the Israelites returned to Judah after 70 years of captivity in Babylon, they detected, despite the fact that they had rebuilt Jerusalem, that something was still broken – themselves. This pandemic has brought us face to face with a harsh reality, despite everything humanity has built over the centuries, something is still broken – ourselves.

We are in exile because of COVID-19, and we need healing – physically and spiritually. Spiritual healing doesn’t come from a needle. An anti-viral injection can’t give us immunity from the darkness that plagues our souls. Resurrection comes through crucifixion. The healing we need in our inner being comes from embracing the Healer, Jesus Christ.

With our usual routines and hectic pace interrupted, the coronavirus enables us to ask, “What is God saying to me/us at this time?” Asking and answering this question could become a turning point for individuals, the Church, and the nation.

If there’s going to be a turning point, there needs to be a starting point. The starting point is to engage and reengage with Jesus. “This is what the Lord Almighty says: ‘Return to me,’ declares the Lord Almighty, ‘and I will return to you,’ says the Lord Almighty” Zechariah 1:3 (NIV).

To return to the Lord we must return to the Bible. In these days of uncertainty and disorientation, we need certainty and orientation. God’s Word is sufficient for all our needs. As the pandemic surges, the Scriptures are the anchor in the squall. Those who abide in the Word will ride out the squall.

When the post-Babylonian Israelites realized their brokenness “they told Ezra the teacher of the Law to bring out the Book … and He read it aloud from daybreak till noon as he faced the square before the Water Gate in the presence of the men, women and others who could understand. And all the people listened attentively to the Book of the Law” Nehemiah 8:1-2 (NIV).

Note the phrase “listened attentively.” The beginning of something new will begin when we open our ears to hear the Word of the Lord.

Finally, we should pray. A new normal will emerge when the pandemic is over. The new normal will be an outcome of how we do or do not pray. COVID-19 is an invitation to pray. “Ask and it will be given to you; seek and you will find; knock and the door will be opened to you. For everyone who asks receives; the one who seeks finds; and to the one who knocks, the door will be opened” Matthew 7:7-8 (NIV).

Reboot. When we engage and reengage with Jesus there is “a future and a hope” Jeremiah 29:11 (NIV). Bad news will become good news. Life will blossom from death. What’s broken will be made whole again.

Resource:

Praying When You Don’t Have All The Answershttps://www.facebook.com/kensymes7/videos/2976801189041940/

© Scripture Union Canada 2020

2 Corinthians 4:5


1 Comment

Whole Book Reading

For several months, my daily Bible reading plan has been to read a whole book of the Bible in one sitting. It’s been illuminating and rewarding.

There are many benefits to whole book reading:

  • You read like a writer
  • The themes and sub-themes come into focus
  • The structure and genre of the writing is more evident
  • The ebb and flow of different emotions (in both the text and the reader) are more pronounced
  • The rhythm and pattern of the message/story is more noticeable
  • The development of the writer’s theology is more obvious
  • It opens your heart and expands your understanding
  • It’s easier to see how the Scriptures are all about Jesus
  • You read more

Now that’s well and good, but how does one find enough time to read a whole book in one sitting? Actually, it’s quite easy. You read the short books on the days when you don’t have much time and the long books on the days when you have more time.

Saturday or Sunday afternoon is when I read the longer books like Isaiah or Luke. From Monday to Friday, I mainly read shorter books. On a hectic day when I’m time-challenged, I read one of the ten books that take me less than 5 minutes – Obadiah, Jonah, Nahum, Haggai, 2 Thessalonians, Titus, Philemon, 2 John, 3 John, or Jude.

Here’s a rough guide (our reading speeds are different) for how long it takes to read each book of the Bible:

15 minutes or less – Ruth, Joel, Obadiah, Jonah, Micah, Nahum, Habakkuk, Zephaniah, Haggai, Malachi, Philippians, Colossians, 1 Thessalonians, 2 Thessalonians, 1 Timothy, 2 Timothy, Titus, Philemon, James, 1 Peter, 2 Peter, 1 John, 2 John, 3 John, Jude

30 minutes or less – Esther, Song of Solomon, Lamentations, Hosea, Amos, Galatians, Ephesians

1 hour or less – Ezra, Nehemiah, Ecclesiastes, Daniel, Zechariah, Romans, 1 Corinthians, 2 Corinthians, Hebrews

2 hours or less – Leviticus, Joshua, Judges, 2 Samuel , 1 Chronicles, Job, Proverbs, Mark, John, Revelation

3 hours or less – Exodus, Numbers, Deuteronomy, 1 Samuel, 1 Kings, 2 Kings, 2 Chronicles, Matthew, Luke, Acts

4 hours or less – Genesis, Isaiah, Jeremiah, Ezekiel

5 hours or less – Psalms

Take control of your time. If you commit to an average of 12 minutes every day, you’ll read the whole Bible in 1 year. Do you have 5 minutes in your day? Read Haggai or Jude. Do you have 15 minutes? Read Ruth or James. Do you have an hour? Dive into Nehemiah or Romans.

© Scripture Union Canada 2020

2 Corinthians 4:5


1 Comment

The Key to Interpreting the Bible

How can two astute people read the same passage of Scripture and arrive at two different interpretations?

The short answer is because people usually tend to use one of four ways to interpret the Bible – the literal, moral, anagogical or allegorical approach. The literal approach looks for the plain meaning of the text, the moral approach draws ethical lessons from the text, the anagogical approach searches for a mystical meaning in the text, and the allegorical approach looks for a second level or typological meaning in the text.

Decades ago, when I first learned about these four ways to interpret the Bible my blood pressure went up! I had many questions: What was the right approach? Could two or more approaches be right? If two or more approaches are right, what happens when the interpretations clash? How can a literal approach be used with poetic literature? How can an anagogical approach be a valid way to interpret didactic material? And so on.

My questions increased my level of frustration. As I thought about the matter, I became convinced that a Bible text, rightly read in its context, could only have one intended and definite meaning.  There was no way a text could have different, conflicting, or ethereal meanings.

Despite my hermeneutical concerns, I gradually developed a method of interpretation that applied literary, historical, theological, grammatical, contextual, translation, and supernatural considerations to my reading/hearing and preaching/teaching of the Bible. I felt like I was making progress, but I still wondered if I was missing something. Then the Scriptures themselves revealed the right way to interpret the Bible.

The right way to interpret the Bible isn’t a literal, moral, anagogical or allegorical approach. The right way to interpret the Bible isn’t tied to an approach, it’s tied to a person. Jesus is the hermeneutical key to the Bible.

To correctly handle God’s Word (cf. 2 Timothy 2:15) we must engage with it as the message, from beginning to end, about Jesus. This is essential. A Christocentric outlook is vital to understanding every page of the Bible. Any effort to determine the meaning of a text divorced from a Christocentric outlook leads to a distortion of its meaning.

This isn’t my opinion, it’s grounded in the Scriptures themselves. Jesus is the hermeneutical key to the Bible because He claims to be the subject of the Bible (cf. Luke 24:25-27). Because Jesus claims to be the subject of the Bible, the only adequate way to interpret the Bible is to consider every passage of scripture in the context of the life, death, resurrection, ascension, and future return of Jesus. As the Australian Evangelical theologian Graeme Goldsworthy says, “All biblical texts testify in some way to Jesus Christ. This makes him the center of biblical revelation and the fixed reference point for understanding everything else in the Bible.”

So what are some practical and theological implications?

  • To properly understand the Bible, saving faith in Jesus, coupled with the empowerment of the Spirit, is required
  • “We affirm that the Person and work of Jesus Christ are the central focus of the whole Bible” – Article III, Chicago Statement on Biblical Hermeneutics
  • Jesus is the only one who can mediate the Word of God to us (cf. 1 Timothy 2:5-6)
  • The person and work of Jesus must, directly and indirectly, inform our interpretation of a text
  • The meaning of a text is always linked to how God reveals Himself in and through Jesus
  • The main interpretive question is, “How does this passage attest to Christ?”
  • The Gospels are the methodological starting point for interpreting the Scriptures because this is where Jesus is seen most clearly
  • If an interpretation intentionally denies or ignores the person and/or work of Jesus, it’s a false interpretation
  • When we study, preach, or teach the Bible we should always link our studies, preaching, or teaching to Jesus
  • The application of the Bible to our daily lives must be connected to Jesus

The long and the short of it is this, Jesus is the linchpin to correctly understanding everything in the Bible. As Goldsworthy aptly says, “No Bible passage yields its true significance without reference to Jesus Christ in his gospel.”

Recommended reading:

Goldsworthy, Graeme., Preaching the Whole Bible as Christian Scripture, Wm. B. Eerdmans Publishing Co., 2000.

© Scripture Union Canada 2020

2 Corinthians 4:5


Leave a comment

Nothing Less

What makes a whole Christian?

American pastor A.W. Tozer once said, “The Word of God well understood and religiously obeyed is the shortest route to spiritual perfection. And we must not select a few favorite passages to the exclusion of others. Nothing less than a whole Bible can make a whole Christian.”

If nothing less than the whole Bible makes a whole Christian, then the number of Christians in the world is grossly exaggerated!

That’s a frightening thought, even though it’s only a half-truth (we’re not saved through reading/hearing the whole Bible).

What is true is the realization that when we only read/hear parts of the Bible we want to read/hear, we’re in dangerous territory. God gave us the whole Bible, not a condensed Bible, because every page of every book in the Bible is useful one way or another for knowing and growing in Jesus Christ (cf. 2 Timothy 3:16).

Think of it this way: If the whole Bible is the whole truth of God, then to read, reflect and respond to less than the whole Bible is to read, reflect and respond to something less than the whole truth. When we respond to something less than the whole truth, we’re a cult!

The Apostle Paul was keenly aware of this. He did everything possible to proclaim the “whole will of God” (Acts 20:27) because he knew if he shrank away from declaring everything God wanted his listeners to hear, he would be held responsible for their eternal death!

What are you basing your life on? The whole truth, half the truth, a quarter of the truth or a few nuggets of truth? Anything less than the whole truth isn’t really the truth. That’s why, when we give testimony in a court of law, we’re asked to swear by Almighty God, to tell the truth, the whole truth and nothing but the truth.

The whole truth …

Are you ignoring half of the Bible? Maybe it’s time to speak to God about this – to promise to read, reflect and respond to the whole Bible and nothing less than the whole Bible.

© Scripture Union Canada 2020

2 Corinthians 4:5


Leave a comment

Bible More

Through the grace of God, we’re privileged to live in the era of Bible More. The Bible is more accessible and freely available today in more formats than ever before. Thanks to the great work of many Bible agencies and organizations, virtually everyone everywhere can read, hear and see the Scriptures in multiple ways.

Remarkably, the obstacles impeding engagement with God’s Word have been practically eliminated through the development of creative Bible resources. Isaiah 29:18 has come true. Now the deaf can “hear” and the blind can “see” the Word.

Yes, there are still small groups of people who don’t have a printed Bible in their heart language, but translators are in the process of completing the task. And yes, there are people living in countries where it’s illegal to own or read the Bible, but agencies like Open Doors find ways to distribute God’s Word despite ideological or religious barriers.

So why is Bible More noteworthy? It’s significant because it testifies to how Christians value everyone everywhere. If Christians didn’t share the Bible freely with all people, it would be culpable negligence. Christians do everything in their power to make the Bible accessible and available because it’s the only Word that connects people with the One who is the Word. That is, Christians connect people with the Bible because they want all people to know God and become part of His family.

Little wonder then that there are so many Christians involved in Bible More. Everywhere you look you’ll find Christians participating in Bible translation, Bible distribution, Bible literacy, Bible teaching, Bible study, or some form of Bible engagement.

That’s not to say that more can’t be done. Even though more people are able to connect with Jesus and His Story than ever before, many more people need to connect with Jesus and His Story. To help make these connections, check out these links:

YouVersion (also known as Bible.com or the Bible App) is an online and mobile Bible platform published for Android, iOS, Windows Phone, and many other operating systems; it also supports a variety of other platforms. https://www.youversion.com/the-bible-app/

The Bible Project specializes in visual storytelling and illustrated videos. https://thebibleproject.com/explore/

Biblica provides programs and tools in print, digital, and audio formats that help people go deeper in God’s Word. https://www.biblica.com/resources/

Forum of Bible Agencies International promotes collaboration and cooperation amongst Bible Agencies with a shared vision of working together to maximize the access and impact of God’s word. https://forum-intl.org/

BibleStudyTools.com is the largest free online Bible website for verse search and in-depth studies. https://www.biblestudytools.com/

Lifewords helps people share the Bible’s life words and discover the good news that changes the world. https://www.lifewords.global/

BibleGateway.com is a website designed to allow easy reading, listening, studying, searching, and sharing of the Bible in many different versions and translations, including English, French, Spanish, and other languages. https://www.biblegateway.com/

Wycliffe focuses on Bible translation around the world. http://www.wycliffe.net/en/

Bible.is (Faith Comes by Hearing) provides free access to God’s Word through Audio Bibles in every translated language. http://www.bible.is/

Bible Society provides free Bible apps and Bible study resources. https://www.unitedbiblesocieties.org/

Scripture Union specializes in Bible reading guides for all ages that help people read, reflect, remember and respond to God’s Word. http://scriptureunion.ca/Bible

Bible League provides Scriptures and training worldwide so people prepared by the Holy Spirit will be brought into a relationship with Jesus Christ and His Church. https://bibleleague.ca/

Additional links could and should be added to the list above. Please comment and share links to the Bible that you’ve found helpful.

© Scripture Union Canada 2019

2 Corinthians 4:5


Leave a comment

Bible Engagement Preaching

There are approximately 37 million churches in the world and 34,000 (Christian) denominations. If every church has only 1 service a week (most churches have more than 1 service), about 2 billion sermons are preached every year!

That’s a lot of sermonizing, and it means the Bible is the most talked-about book in the world!

Which gets me to wondering, how are preachers preaching, and what are they preaching?

The researcher, Ed Stetzer, addressed this question, in part, in a June 2009 article in Christianity Today. Analyzing 450 randomly selected sermons by different North American preachers, he found that pastors organized and delivered their sermons in diverse ways. He also discovered that Matthew was the most preached book, Genesis the most preached Old Testament book, and Luke, John, Acts, and Romans the most likely books for preachers to use for their main text. More than 70 percent of sermons are a commentary on New Testament texts.

Stetzer’s research indicates that preaching, while Bible-based, isn’t based on the whole Bible. This is troubling, particularly in the light of Paul’s words to Timothy that “all Scripture … is useful for teaching, rebuking, correcting and training in righteousness” 2 Timothy 3:16.

Note the phrase “all Scripture … is useful for teaching.” The text suggests that certainly all 39 books of the Old Testament, and by extension, the 66 books in both Testaments, are profitable for training and instruction. Why are all the books useful for teaching? Because when preachers preach from the whole Bible it provides us with the full range of meaningful encounters that we need to know and grow in Christ (cf. Luke 24:13-35).

Preaching from the entire Bible isn’t optional, it’s essential. To grow in spiritual maturity, people must feed on the whole counsel of God. So here’s a shout-out for preaching that connects us with every chapter and genre of Scripture in both Testaments.

That’s not to say that it’s feasible for a preacher to preach from every passage of Scripture, but it is to say that good preaching should engage the listeners, with breadth and depth, in the major acts of the whole Bible.

Thus the aim of every preacher should be to connect the listener with Jesus and His Word. Not some of the Word, all of the Word. For we grow in maturity in our relationships with Jesus through engaging with His Word in its entirety.

© Scripture Union Canada 2019

2 Corinthians 4:5


2 Comments

Correctly Handling the Word of Truth

One of the last things Paul told Timothy was, “Do your best to present yourself to God as one approved, a workman who does not need to be ashamed and who correctly handles the word of truth” 2 Timothy 2:15.

Note the phrase “correctly handles the word of truth.” The Greek word for “handles” is orthotomeō. It only appears once in the New Testament. Strong’s Concordance defines orthotomeō like this: to cut straight, to proceed on straight paths, hold a straight course, to handle aright, to teach the truth directly and correctly. Visually, we should picture it as a clear and unobstructed pathway, i.e. no impeding obstacles.

Wouldn’t it be nice if there were no obstacles to correctly handling the word of truth? Unfortunately, many obstacles need to be overcome. Maybe the biggest is the misguided notion that everyone’s opinion should be valued. But truth isn’t subjective, it’s objectively knowable. We do not have the liberty to make the Scriptures mean whatever we want them to mean.

So how do we handle the word of truth fittingly and appropriately? Here are five foundational guidelines:

  1. We should begin with understanding the master plan. When we study Scripture, we must determine where it fits into God’s plan. Every verse of Scripture must be understood in the context of its passage, every passage in the context of the chapter, every chapter in the context of the book, every book in the context of the Testament, and the Testament in the context of the whole Bible.
  2. We must be governed by the overarching principle of Scriptura sui interpres (Scripture interprets itself). Remember that God’s Word is living and active (cf. Hebrews 4:12). Throughout the Bible we see Scripture quoting Scripture. Scripture itself is the best theology professor to teach truth. When we carefully contemplate and consider different accounts of Scripture, the Scriptures will enable us to understand and correctly handle the word of truth.
  3. We must do it in community. When we handle truth, we must consider and interact with the writings/teachings of theologians past and present (insofar as they agree with Scripture). There is no new truth. God has revealed truth to Christians down through the ages. As a guiding principle, if we think we have a new interpretation, we’re probably wrong.
  4. We must look for Jesus. The theme of the Bible from beginning to end, though sometimes hidden or obscure, is Jesus (cf. John 5:39). Jesus is Truth (cf. John 14:6). Bible engagement is more than saying the Bible is true, it’s saying that our faith is in the living truth, Jesus Christ. To rightly comprehend and apprehend the truth, we must engage with Scripture the Emmaus Road way (cf. Luke 24:13-35), i.e. open the Scriptures to see Jesus (cf. Luke 24:27).
  5. We must ask God to illuminate the Scriptures. To correctly handle the word of truth we need insight and understanding from the Holy Spirit (cf. John 14:26). It’s only when the Holy Spirit shines His light on a text, that we’re able to properly analyze, accurately explain, and rightly apply the Scriptures.

 

There’s much more that could be said. Please add your comments.

© Scripture Union Canada 2019

2 Corinthians 4:5


Leave a comment

Cultivating Bible Engagement

Many pastors urge their congregations to read/hear the Bible personally. Bible reading plans or daily devotional books are freely available in many local churches. Every now and again churches have special events (e.g. Bible Sunday) to encourage individuals to get into the Word. Yet despite what’s being done to boost regular engagement with the Bible, most Christians only read/hear the Bible in a Sunday service.

So what can we do to ramp up Bible engagement?

To begin, we should recognize that 80% of people throughout the world are oral preference learners. That means, regardless of education or background, most people learn and absorb information, not through literate means, but through oral methods of storytelling, drama or song. The implications are critical: If most people aren’t wired to engage with the Bible through literate means, then urging them to mainly read or study the Bible will be counter-productive. However, when we use oral preference approaches to Bible engagement, like group discussions or acting out a Bible story, Bible engagement is strengthened.

Another consideration is self-discipline. It’s one of the 20% of skills that contributes 80% of results. In fact, self-discipline is a vital personal attribute needed for Bible engagement. It’s vital because self-discipline directs a person internally rather than externally. When Bible engagement is externally motivated, it’s more likely to fizzle out, but when it’s an internal motivation, it’s more likely to be sustained. Unfortunately, self-discipline is something of a Cinderella value today. People are generally inclined to go with the flow rather than developing habits that rule their lives. So we need to figure out how we can actively help each other cultivate Bible engagement habits.

We should also give communal Bible engagement our attention. The Scriptures emphasize Bible engagement as “we with the Word” more so than “me with the Word.” When people get together to focus on the Bible in small groups, be it a family at the kitchen table during supper or friends meeting together once a week in someone’s home, the relational dynamics enhance engagement with the Word.

Communal Bible engagement may be the best thing we can do to help people jump into the Word because it creates an ideal environment for oral preference learners and provides opportunities to develop Bible engagement habits.

Everything mentioned above is only well and good if it’s put into practice. People need opportunities to hear, talk about, act out and sing the Word together. That’s easier said than done. It takes effort to prepare and incorporate a Bible drama in a church service, to invite people into our homes for a Bible study, to ask an open-ended question to prompt discussion about the Word, or to corral the children to share a Bible story with them. But when we make the effort, people get to meet with Jesus in and through His Word.

What are you doing to cultivate Bible engagement? If you have some practical suggestions, please comment. Your input could make all the difference!

© Scripture Union Canada 2019

2 Corinthians 4:5