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Bible Engagement Blog


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Forum of Bible Agencies Award of Excellence

Philadelphia, PA. The Forum of Bible Agencies – North America (FOBA-NA) recently presented its first-ever “Award of Excellence” for 2015 to YouVersion and OneHope for their efforts in developing a digital Scripture resource for children called the Bible App for Kids. The Award will be given each year for significant contribution to the cause of Bible translation, distribution or engagement.

“The Bible App for Kids perfectly symbolizes two things the Forum stands for”, commented FOBA-NA Chairperson Mr. Whitney T. Kuniholm, “best practices in Bible-related ministry and effective collaboration among Bible-focused organizations.”

The Bible App for Kids is a free, downloadable mobile application that helps children experience the Bible in 41 separate stories. The App is available in 11 languages, across multiple platforms and is designed to help children fall in love with God’s Word.

Since its release in November 2013 The Bible App for Kids has been downloaded more than 9.3 million times making it the most popular Bible story app in the world. In addition, it has become one of the top apps in the “education” and “Bible” categories. Based on that success, YouVersion and OneHope have just released The Bible App for Kids Storybook Bible, a full-colour 416 page hardcover book featuring 28 Bible stories that are easily understood by children but enjoyed by entire families.

YouVersion is a ministry of Life.Church, a multi-site church based in Oklahoma, and globally online atlive.life.church. YouVersion is also the creator of The Bible App which helps adults engage with God’s Word; to date it has been downloaded over 200 million times.

OneHope is an international ministry that reaches children and youth around the world with God’s Word – more than a billion kids in 145 countries have encountered a OneHope Scripture program since 1987. OneHope conducts research with children and youth, leaders and educators around the world, and collaborates with thousands of local churches and ministries, local governments, schools and non-governmental organizations.

The Forum of Bible Agencies – North America is an alliance of 40 organizations (Scripture Union is one of these organizations) with a combined constituency of over 5 million volunteers and contributors, reaching 100’s of millions of people of all ages with Bible-related ministries each year. Through the Forum, like-minded organizations partner in planning and producing resources that enable more people to make the Bible and its life-changing message part of their lives. The North American Forum is affiliated with the Forum of Bible Agencies-International. The Canadian Bible Forum is affiliated with the North American Forum.

 


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Bible Engagement Defined

Bible engagement defined by agencies, forums, societies, centers and research groups has many shades of meaning. Here are some definitions:

Scripture engagement is an identity-forming, learning experience, rooted in the Scriptures and practiced throughout the history of the church, involving the whole person, in which the Word of God, mediated in culture, restores, renews and equips people-in-community, enabling them to embody Christ authentically in the world as His agents of reconciliation and social transformation. American Bible Society

Scripture engagement is encountering God through the Bible to become faithful followers of Jesus Christ. American Bible Society

Bible engagement includes action, whether people are intentionally and frequently engaged in using Scripture (either reading or hearing it read) and attitude, whether people believe the Bible to be the inspired and authoritative Word of God. Barna Group

An encounter with God/Jesus/Holy Spirit 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. Bible Research Summit (compilation of group definitions)

The Bible is well-engaged when a community: has access to a well-translated text in its natural literary forms, feasts on whole literary units read in context, understands the overall story and accepts the invitation to take up its own role in the great drama. Biblica

Bible engagement is the act of receiving what the Word of God has to say by reading or listening to the Bible, reflecting on the Scripture, and responding to the biblical truths in your daily life. Center for Bible Engagement, Back to the Bible

Scripture Engagement is encountering God’s Word in a life-changing way. Forum of Bible Agencies International

Bible engagement is peeling back the covers of God’s Word to discover the hopes and promises of the Bible and discovering what God has to say to you, no matter what your situation; that results in hearts changed, lives transformed and an unrelenting drive to be like Jesus to this broken world. Forum of Bible Agencies – North America

Bible engagement is allowing God, through His Word, to lead and change an individual’s life – one’s direction, thinking and actions. LifeWay Research

Scripture engagement is frequency of engagement in the spiritual practice of reflection on Scripture. REVEAL

Bible engagement is the process whereby people are connected with the Bible such that they have meaningful encounters with Jesus Christ and their lives are progressively transformed in Him. Scripture Union Canada

Bible engagement is the process of taking in and living out God’s Word for the purpose of knowing him better and experiencing him more. Scripture Union USA

Scripture engagement is a way of hearing and reading the Bible with an awareness that it is in the Scriptures that we primarily meet God. It is a marinating, mulling over, reflecting, dwelling on, pondering of the Scriptures, resulting in a transformative engagement with God. Taylor University Center for Scripture Engagement

Scripture engagement is interaction with the biblical text in a way that provides sufficient opportunity for the text to speak for itself by the power of the Holy Spirit, enabling readers and listeners to hear the voice of God and discover for themselves the unique claim Jesus Christ is making upon them. Taylor University Center for Scripture Engagement

Scripture engagement is facilitating life-changing encounters with God through His Word. Wycliffe Scripture Engagement Forum

Please make a comment to share your definition of Bible engagement.

© Scripture Union Canada 2015

2 Corinthians 4:5


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4/14 Bible Engagement

“Connecting children with Jesus and His Story should be the priority of the church today!” This, according to the keynote message at the December 2014 Forum of Bible Agencies- North America meeting in Niagara Falls.

“God’s Word for a Young World”, the theme of the FOBA-NA meeting, centered attention on the importance of reaching children and youth. “A new focus is needed for a new era . . . what we’ve done in the past will not cut it in the future . . . each successive generation (in the Western world) has fewer Christians than the previous generation . . . we must do all we can to share the Scriptures with our children and grand-children while we still can!”

These impassioned comments were fuelled by the injunction in God’s Word to “Impress them (the Scriptures) on your childrenDeuteronomy 6:7 (NIV). Or, as Eugene Peterson paraphrased this verse in The Message, the task is to first “Get them (the Scriptures) inside of you and then get them inside your children.”

The call to connect children and youth with the Bible is amplified by research. According to the Pew Research Centre, the religious unaffiliated in Canada has gone from 4% in 1970 to 24% in 2011 and in the USA from 5% in 1970 to 20% in 2011. Couple the rise of the “Nones” with the growth of other religions in North America and the need to impress the Scriptures on our children is more urgent than ever before.

So how do we do Bible engagement with a special concern for children? Forum members were encouraged to review, revise and restructure their operational budgets. Finances could then be used to envision and develop new resources. The work should not be done in isolation. Collaboration and working partnerships with children’s/youth agencies should be integral to the efforts as well as the creation of innovative marketing/promotions that invite and encourage children and youth to engage with the Bible.

But the challenge to connect children with the Bible involves much more than the creation of, distribution or marketing of resources. Stress was placed on the fact that “Belief matters! When people love Christ, they will love His Word.” A correlation of findings from Bible engagement studies revealed that most people who intentionally engage with the Bible are people who embrace Christ by faith. Bible engagement paradigms must therefore include evangelism, specifically child evangelism, as a core component of a 4/14 Bible engagement strategy.

With the above in mind, the concluding comment of the opening address was, “The decline in Bible engagement is primarily a relational problem – people aren’t getting connected to Jesus . . . we need more than a Bible reading revival – we need a Jesus revival!”

© Scripture Union Canada 2014


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Nurturing Bible Engagement

How do we nurture Bible engagement? Are there things we can do to facilitate, encourage and help people grow in the discipline of Bible reading and reflection?

Research presented by Rick Hiemstra and Ed Stetzer at the December 2013 Forum of Bible Agencies – North America meeting in New York identified several factors that promote the growth of Bible engagement.

Hiemstra, Director of Research at the Evangelical Fellowship of Canada, suggests that the findings from the Canadian Bible Engagement Study (yet to be published), reveal that the drivers of Bible engagement are:

  • Confidence – What people believe about the reliability and trustworthiness of the Bible, whether or not they feel the Bible is relevant to modern life, and what they think about the uniqueness of its teachings, are important. People with higher levels of confidence read the Bible more frequently.
  • Conversation – Whether or not we talk about the Bible with our children, spouses and others is significant. The more we discuss the Bible, the more we read it. The more we read the Bible, the more we discuss it.
  • Community – Church service attendance is strongly correlated with Bible engagement. When church attendance falls, so does Bible engagement. When people view the church positively, they are more likely to read the Bible.

According to Stetzer, LifeWay Research, Bible engagement grows when people:

  • Confess sin and ask for forgiveness
  • Believe in Jesus
  • Choose to obey God
  • Pray for others who are not Christians
  • Read Christian books
  • Are mentored by a mature Christian
  • Memorize Scripture
  • Attend a Bible study/small group or Sunday School class

Bible engagement is intimately tied to relationships (vertically and horizontally). The degree to which people believe in Christ, obey Christ and seek to live for Christ correlates with the degree to which they’ll engage with the Bible. Similarly, the degree to which people connect with a community of faith correlates with the degree to which they will confidently connect with the Bible.

The research also points to the link between Bible engagement and discipleship. To make disciples, we must foster Bible reading and reflection. To encourage Bible reading and reflection, we must work to cultivate disciples.

Have your say. What would you identify as catalysts/mechanisms/means that contribute to Bible engagement?

© Scripture Union Canada 2013