Press Release: May 26, 2015

Engaging Scripture

Lutheran Bible Translators is diligently working to determine best practices and implementation of what we call Scripture engagement. But what is Scripture engagement? Maybe you’re thinking, “I thought they were just Bible translators. That’s what they’re called, isn’t it?”

A relational process

Sharing Kwanja Scripture in Cameroon
Sharing Kwanja Scripture in Cameroon

The work of Bible translation is not a cookie cutter vocation. One method does not cover all ministries.  Different communities have different cultural practices, so the most effective starting point for translation in one language group may be completely different from the next. Sometimes it means starting with the book of Luke to facilitate the community’s desire to have the Jesus Film produced in their heart language. Other times, it means working through the metanarrative of Scripture, with portions of the Old and New Testament being translated to bring context to the Gospel.  Regardless of the method by which the material is produced, we hold to a principle of community involvement and engagement. It is about missionaries building lasting relationships that interact on a deeper level with their neighbors and colleagues.

This principle is also applied to Scripture engagement, which is implemented in numerous ways – from audio production to teaching a Bible study.  Our relationships and connections within the community help us form better strategies for Scripture engagement.  The goal is for people to use and interact with God’s Word.

A new approach

For example, missionaries Rob Veith and Rev. Tim Beckendorf work with international partners in the development of audio Scripture, which they have called Just in Time Audio. After a portion of Scripture has gone through consultant checking and is approved, it is made into an audio recording and distributed in the community. In the past, the method has been to wait for the completion of the entire New Testament before Scripture was recorded. Yet with the release of the smaller portions of Scripture, the community is able to engage with it sooner and more effectively. As people in the community hear the Scripture, it simultaneously acts as community testing. As people are able to engage in the Biblical text, they offer their feedback on the translation right away so revisions can be made before a printed text is finalized. Relationships within the community and engagement work hand-in-hand.

LBT missionaries and staff are developing strategies for Scripture engagement
LBT missionaries and staff are developing strategies for Scripture engagement

A strategy for the future

LBT staff and missionaries have been working to develop a clearer vision for how we can effectively implement Scripture engagement as a Lutheran translation organization.  Other Scripture engagement organizations produce specialized materials, so where do we fit? The key advantage we have in our organization is our emphasis on relationship building. Our partnerships and dialogue with the community allow us to more effectively suggest products and processes that equip people to access and engage God’s Word in their heart language.  And this reflects the overall vision of LBT: God is transforming the lives of people around the world as they read and use His Word in their heart language.

Learn how you can participate in LBT’s Scripture engagement programs by supporting the Acts 2:11 Project!


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