JumpIntoTheWord

Bible Engagement Blog


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Thinking About Our Thinking

This post is compiled with Bible ministry colleagues in mind. It’s for people working in the fields of Bible preaching, Bible translation, Bible publishing, Bible storying, Bible study, Bible teaching, Bible resource development, and Bible engagement.

Here are ten primers to get us thinking about our thinking:

  1. The entertainment industry thrives on the power to distract and hypnotize. What are the Bible engagement strategies, methodologies and technologies that are required to capture the attention of people caught in the grip of an alluring hotchpotch of images and fragments of visual stimulation?
  2. Biblical scholarship requires a major paradigm shift. The perception and interpretation of the Scriptures must shift from engaging with silent print to engaging with the Bible in the context of electronic media. What are the implications of this premise?
  3. Since the majority of people hear the message of the Bible rather than read it for themselves, greater attention needs to be given to the importance of communicating the message with dialogical language (vs. dialectic language). What adjustments in our Bible delivery systems/methodology need to be made to help people hear the Word in more relational and dynamic ways?
  4. In recognizing that there are more people outside than inside the church, it is imperative that intralingual translations (e.g. English to English) of Bible versions/paraphrases are developed to better enable people to relate to the Word. How might a multi-media rich environment help or hinder intralingual translations?
  5. There are multiple tools, forms and avenues available in the sciences and arts through which connections with the Bible may be made. How might the sciences and arts be more creatively accessed to help people see, imagine, contemplate, tell, hear, remember and share God’s Story?
  6. It was mainly Christians who pioneered the transition from orality to literacy. Now that Western cultures are more abstract, wouldn’t it be great if Christians once again pioneered the transition to secondary orality? So what are we presently doing, and what should we be doing, to communicate and invite interaction with the Bible in the context of a more deliberate self-conscious orality?
  7. Robotics and artificial intelligence are going to dramatically alter the landscape of society in the coming years. What impact might the changes in technology have on how we provide access, develop approaches/methods, and invite engagement with the Bible?
  8. Social networking sites have changed the way we communicate. The linear reasoning that’s been nurtured by print culture is being augmented or replaced by non-sequential thinking stimulated by visual effects, wired to sound bites and punctuated by the exchange of one-liners. With this in mind, what are the implications for discipleship, given that Bible reading/reflection (drawing on linear reasoning skills) has been the primary means of nurturing mature believers?
  9. What can we learn from the past that can help us in the future? The biblical texts were originally recorded to assist oral presentation and the development of a communal piety. The spoken and rhetorical features of the biblical text have been largely overlooked or ignored by commentators, pastors and teachers for hundreds of years. How can electronic media be harnessed to recapture the original oral underpinnings of the Bible?
  10. What new thinking, arrangements, reorganization of translation processes, and development of production and delivery mechanisms are required to enable people to engage with the Bible in a way that they can encounter God and live lives that bring honour and glory to Him?

© Scripture Union Canada 2016

2 Corinthians 4:5


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Pondering His Precepts

Here’s a tried and tested daily Bible reading methodology that I’ve successfully used for three decades. Or for those of you who go back a few years, here’s how to have a daily “Quiet Time” with God:

Prepare:

  • Thank God for the opportunity to meet with Him
  • Ask forgiveness for sins of omission or commission

Perimeter:

  • Look at the passage in context, i.e. study what comes before and after the text you’re reading
  • Avoid reading anything into the passage that may distort the intended meaning

Paraphrase:

  • Write out the passage using words that would enable a child to understand it

Pulverise:

  • Ponder on every phrase and sentence
  • Find the main point
  • Look at opening and closing statements
  • Identify unique words
  • Locate points of emphasis
  • Pay attention to historical, cultural, social, political, or economic factors

Personalise:

  • Apply the passage to yourself
  • Beware of the paralysis of analysis (sometimes we become critical analysts of God’s Word rather than open hearted recipients)
  • Ask, “What does God want me to learn?” and “How does God want me to respond?”

Praise:

  • Give God the honour and glory that are His due

Prayer:

  • Pray using the passage as the point of departure
  • Repeat the Word back to God
  • Ask God to help you be obedient to His Word

Practice:

  • Put into practice what you learnt from God today
  • Share biblical insights with friends in your community of faith

[Based on “How to Have a Quiet Time”, Seize the Day: Meditations for the Year, 2002 by Lawson Murray]

© Scripture Union Canada 2013


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A Pivotal Point

Bible engagement is at a pivotal point. With the help of smart phones, tablets and other devices the Scriptures are more accessible than ever before. We live in exceptional times. Digital technology provides proximity and unprecedented connectivity to the Bible.

New technologies and social media make it possible to dream about doing things that would have been beyond reach some years ago. Since we crossed over from Gutenberg to Google there are tremendous opportunities to retell the Story in creative new ways. Imagine an online game enabling children or youth to develop avatars, enter a virtual world, and as part of the action, engage with the Scriptures – it’s coming. Imagine the Bible in 3D – it’s coming. Imagine interfacing with a hologram of David as he slots a stone into his sling and begins to run toward Goliath – it’s coming!

Imagine interactive technology prompting you to reflect on the Scriptures daily, tracking your progress and facilitating sharing via social media – it’s come! Scripture Union Canada has developed and published theStory™ – an online Bible reading guide emphasizing the biblical narrative. Features of theStory™ are:

  • connects our stories with God’s Story
  • a chronological plan
  • free sign up at http://thestory.scriptureunion.ca/subscribe
  • unpacks the Bible in 4-5 years
  • the 3R’s methodology
  • trans-denominational and Evangelical
  • global audience
  • geared for millennials
  • suitable for adults of all ages
  • distinctive partnership of writers
  • flexible and shareable format
  • networking and promotional features
  • invites you to “write” yourself into it

theStory™ has just begun but we’re continuing to dream about what we can do to enhance it. What if we added an audio version, film, multiple languages, or provided a blog that enabled subscribers to chat about the biblical reflections with the writers and other readers? What if we could add family, youth, children’s and small group versions of theStory™? What if . . . we could help this generation become the most biblically engaged of all time?

© Scripture Union Canada 2013


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Good News Bad News

In “Lost and Found: The Younger Unchurched and the Churches that Reach Them” Ed Stetzer (Lifeway Research) surveyed 1,000 unchurched young adults about the issues of church and spirituality. The study revealed that young adults are more open to issues of Bible engagement than older generations.

The Lifeway research findings for younger unchurched Canadians are as follows:

– 51% say they would be willing to study the Bible if a friend asked them

– 89% say they would be willing to talk to someone about Christian faith

– 32% would be willing to join a small group to study the Bible

While many un-churched young adults are prepared to study the Bible, they’re not too keen on the church:

– 41% believe the church is full of hypocrites

– 67% would not visit or join a church that does not welcome or affirm homosexual members

[Note: The main reason why younger un-churched Canadians won’t visit churches that don’t welcome homosexuals is because they consider it to be a justice issue. In contrast most churches view homosexuality as a moral/biblical issue]

In another recent study, Thom Rainer interviewed thousands of unchurched non-Christians and asked them what they really thought about Christians. One of Rainer’s seven key discoveries was that unchurched non-Christians would like to learn about the Bible from a Christian, but not in a church setting. Rainer cites someone who said, “The Bible really fascinates me, but I don’t want to go to a stuffy and legalistic church to learn about it. It would be nice if a Christian invited me to study the Bible in his home or at a place like Starbucks.” [Source: What Non-Christians Really Think About Christians]

The bottom line: Younger unchurched Canadians give thumbs up for Bible engagement and thumbs down for church engagement. That’s the good news bad news!

© Scripture Union Canada 2013


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Through Jesus and For Jesus

Why do you read the Bible? People mainly read it for their personal needs. A 2009 Canadian case study on Bible reading revealed that people read “for guidance, knowledge and direction” (28.2%), “for help, reassurance and comfort” (26.4%), “for understanding, answers and perspective on life” (21.5%), or to know/learn about God/Jesus (20.2%).

Check out a church bulletin or website and it’s obvious that many Bible study, life or small group meetings are “me” focused. Studies harness the Scriptures to address felt needs. Marriage groups spotlight husband and wife relationships, youth groups tackle adolescent issues, parenting groups deal with child rearing, recovery groups target substance abuse, and so on. In many small groups the Bible is mainly a manual of divine instruction.

Is it possible to read, reflect on and even revere the Bible yet completely miss the point of what it’s all about? Some people can quote sections of the Bible, sometimes in its original languages, yet they don’t know faith in Jesus Christ. There are ministers who recite Scriptures from a lectionary, something they’ve done for decades, but they don’t know the One who is the Word. And some theologians reduce the Bible to nothing more than a reference book to uphold their theological perspectives.

I used to think we needed a Bible reading revival. My thinking has been amended. Bible reading per se is not what transforms our lives. Jesus transforms lives. What we need is a Jesus revival! That’s not to say that transformation can happen independently from God’s Word – far from it! But it is to say that we can be “Bible-believing” or “Word-centered” yet miss the point if we’re not “Christ-centred”.

While it’s true that God’s Word is our source of guidance, comfort and understanding, let’s make sure we don’t limit it to these ends. Ultimately God’s given us His Word to lead us to Christ. So let’s read the Bible to know Jesus and make Him known!

© Scripture Union Canada 2012


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Tailor Made

Bible study has to be tailor made. There’s no one size fits all.

When I was an undergraduate student in the seventies we gathered in small groups on the campus lawns, read a book of the Bible together, then marked up the text with our pencils – writing insights and questions in the margins. We used the insights and questions to share findings and fuel our discussions. We didn’t know it at the time, but Paul Byer of IVCF started developing a Bible study method along these lines in 1954. Paul’s method was later called the Manuscript Bible Study (MBS) and is extensively used by IVCF on college and university campuses today.

What works intuitively for university students may not work for children. Andy Deane, in his book, Learn To Study The Bible: Forty Different Step By Step Methods To Help You Discover, Apply And Enjoy God’s Word recommends the “Heart Monitor”, “Funnel It”, “Weather Report”, “Climb the Ladder”, or “Cross Thoughts” Bible study methods for children.

Andy’s methods are great, but there may be better Bible study methods for children geared to sports. Children at SU Canada’s sport camps or leagues receive God’s Game Plan (a sports themed Bible) and the Camper Playbook (a Bible Reading Guide). God’s Game Plan and the Camper Playbook have matching cover designs to visually remind children to use a reading guide when studying the Bible. The Bible study method recently developed for SU Canada’s sports ministry utilises a simple inductive five step approach built around sports terminology. The Sports Bible Study Method™ is:

  1. Warm Up – speak to God and invite Him to meet with you
  2. Jump In – carefully read the Bible text
  3. Dig Deep – think about what you’ve read and ask questions
  4. Do It! – apply what you’ve learned
  5. Huddle – chat to God and others

 

The Sports Bible Study Method™ works really well for sports ministry. Other methods like Lectio Divina, 4-K Method, Swedish Method, 5 Ps of Hearing God through the Bible, S.O.A.P Method and the E100 Challenge™ work really well for the contexts and people they’re designed for. Maybe you’ve used one or more of these methods. What’s ultimately important isn’t the Bible study method; it’s whether or not we’re engaging, internalising and incarnating the Word of God.

© Scripture Union Canada, 2012