How many bibles do you need in your church?

acts2v12biblegateway

The answer to that might depend on how many different languages are spoken in your congregation. Perhaps everyone can speak English or perhaps in your congregation most people speak another shared language that everyone understands.

Language isn’t just about understanding the words enough to join in. It is also about creating a welcoming environment. So it may be worth exploring what languages people would like to use.

The verse quoted in five languages above goes right back to the beginnings of the global church. Before that time it had been possible for people to become part of the people of God.

The book of Ruth tells the story of a widow who follows her Jewish mother in-law to Israel and declares “Your people will be my people and your God my God.” (Ruth 1.16). She want on to be the grandmother of King David and one of the ancestors of Jesus.

But there was something different in the Old Testament – joining the people of God meant adopting all the cultural rules of the Jewish people. In the book of Acts this begins to change. The small group of believers who had waited and prayed for Jesus to send the promised holy spirit were rewarded for their wait, they burst out of the meeting room and crowds heard them speaking in different languages – the languages the members of the crowd used at home.

Using a variety of languages in the church needn’t be divisive providing interpretation is given where needed. It isn’t a shared language or a shared hymnbook or song set that unites Christians, it is a shared Lord and a shared hope.

 

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Books on Tape – recordings of the Bible in 1400 languages

books-on-tape

I’m not sure whether this joke will be understood by future generations but I enjoyed it and I’m glad that cartoonist John Atkinson shares his works under a generous licence.

Audio books have been around for a number of years. Some are available in a number of different languages but none have been translated and recorded quite so much as the Bible. Thanks to the generosity of translators and publishers, the diligent hard work of those who track down and manage publishing agreements for copyrighted work, and the amazing work of technicians, editors, and of course voice actors some or all of the Bible is available in audio form in at least 1400 languages.

One of the pioneers in this is Faith Comes By Hearing who have been recording New Testaments and Bibles on tape and now MP3 and other digital formats since the 1980’s.

Another is the Jesus Film which as it suggests is a film, but it’s a film with a soundtrack and many of their products are released as audio versions.

Both these ministries come together in a website and app called Bible.is which currently claim to have resources in 1800+ languages and dialects including audio Bibles and New Testaments in over 1200 languages. The numbers keep going up!

“Faith Comes By Hearing” is from Romans 10:17 “Consequently, faith comes from hearing the message, and the message is heard through the word of Christ.” (NIV)

Earlier in the same passage it states:

with an option to switch into any of the available languages.

In today’s digitally connected world it can be tempting to think that nobody actually needs to go anywhere. Surely we can spread the gospel just through social media?

“How beautiful are the tweets
of those who bring good news!”

Social media does indeed have a great role to play and a number of my colleagues have begun to see that making scripture available online doesn’t mean that people will find it, listen to it and respond. We’re beginning to do a lot more in terms of using social media to help people know when scripture is available in their language and discover that it is relevant to their lives.

Even with the help of technology the message still spreads from person to person. Not everyone who hears welcomes  the message but “how can they believe in the one of whom they have not heard? And how can they hear without someone preaching to them? And how can they preach unless they are sent?”

Some people will hear via a social media share, or a post in local community group, others it will involve a short walk and a face to face conversation. Where can you let people know how to find audio Bibles and New Testaments in the languages spoken in your community?

What languages are spoken near your church?

Wouldn’t it be great if the languages that were spoken by the people in your community were also being spoken by people in your church.

In the UK, census data from 2011 was made available in a map shared by the Guardian newspaper. (click this static map to go to their interactive one)derby languages

This tool allows you to enter a postcode or zoom around the map and click on an area for a breakdown of the languages reported by households in the census.

The Guardian’s visualization only includes a selection of the 100+ languages identified in the census and the census still managed to merge a lot of smaller languages into various categories of ‘other’. But this is still a valuable tool to help you start thinking about what languages are spoken in your community and what you might like to do to make people more welcome if English isn’t their first language.

Data gathered from schools in England identified at least 300 languages (still not identifying all languages that are in use). Your local school may have data available on the languages spoken by their pupils.

Similar public data is also available for other countries but there are other ways to find out what languages are spoken in your community. Get out and meet people.

How will they hear? Facebook isn’t the answer

https://www.facebook.com/2000bibles/posts/1617921138228976


Facebook is not the answer. It may be a helpful tool if used well.

The Bible has 1000’s of verses, some of which can encourage people and speak to them without having the wider context, but like everything else on facebook can be misinterpreted if people don’t see how they fit into the rest of what you (or better still God) was thinking.

The Bible is available in hundreds of languages (some books of it in over 3000 languages) but lots of people don’t know about some of the newer translations.

This site is a very tiny part of trying to address that through simply providing some links to Bibles and resources, some tips on engaging, and some prompts to share what you have found.

It’s not a busy site and it’s been around for a few years. I just haven’t told many people …until now.

Audio Bibles in 1000 languages

In January Faith Comes by hearing announced the release of audio Bibles in 9 more languages along with that was the realization that 2016 will be the year that they reach 1000 languages.

2016 will also be the year when at least one book of scripture will have been translated in 3000 of the 7000 languages used on earth.

FCBH1000

Pray for Faith Comes By Hearing and others working to translate and distribute scripture.

Join them when they celebrate releasing scripture in the 1000th language.

and start praying for the 2000th, 3000th and 4000th!

 

Every person who wants to know what the Bible says should be able to find out. — YouVersion

But they can’t. At least, not yet… If you’re reading this, it’s likely that you already have the Bible in your language. (We hope so.) You may even have several versions to choose from. But have you ever wondered what your life might be like without the Bible? Think about how God’s Word speaks to…

via Every person who wants to know what the Bible says should be able to find out. — YouVersion

Go Tandem – an app to help you grow spiritually?

What Bible apps do you recommend?

Brassingtons in Britain

GoTandem app nudging in the right direction It’s strange how many people are spiritually hungry, but forget to eat!

I wasn’t quite sure what I thought of the Go Tandem app to begin with, but having tried it I think I’m a fan. The basic idea is that even people who know they benefit from engaging with Scripture often need encouragement to read or listen. (and they’ve done some studies to back this up).

A short survey allows users to identify areas in which they would like to grow spiritually and then serves up snippets of scripture throughout the day (again customized to the user) that others have found helpful. This isn’t a replacement for more in depth study and reflection but does provide a series of helpful nudges and reminders of truths people may already accept or verses that challenge them to read and reflect a little more.

I met one of the people behind it…

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