[By Nick Crawley, MA – Church Leader, founder and director of Bible for Life. Nick is an Anglican clergyman with over 25 years experience of church leadership in London, Harare (Zimbabwe), Sheffield, and Bristol. He is a qualified Banker and Investment Analyst and was awarded an MA with merit in Christian Theology from the University of Bristol. He is married to Dr. Lucy Peppiatt the systematic theologian and author, and current Principal of Westminster Theological Centre. They have four sons.]
William Tyndale translated the Bible into English in order that ‘the boy who drives a plough (would) know more of the scriptures’. And he was executed for it!Today, almost 500 years after his death, it’s easy enough to pick up an English Bible, but our secular C21st society seems to know next to nothing about what it actually says.
One of the reasons for this is that the Bible is in practice a difficult book to understand.
I love the Bible. I’ve never found any book remotely like it. It describes the life of the most remarkable man who ever lived and who has influenced human history and life more than anyone other human being. It also has what has been called a ‘ring of truth’ about it – a deep resonance that it is communicating the most genuine truth a person can ever encounter.
Over the past ten years I have been working at finding ways to make both the books of the Bible and its message more accessible for interested, but busy people.
Bible for Life, (BfL), is a ministry that helps genuine enquirers get to the heart of the message of the different Bible books. It is built on a number of principles.
1) Studying a whole book at a time
First, the majority of Christians seem to read the Bible like a newspaper, turning to their favourite sections and not reading much else. While this is better than nothing it almost always misses the author’s main point. BfL approaches each book as a unit, written by an author in a specific context to recipients in a different context. The context is crucial because it directly influences the meaning of the text. Every sentence has been written for a reason and contributes directly to the meaning of the book and its application.
2) Using the resources available on the internet
Second, since our lives, (and especially the lives of those under thirty), are now completely orientated around the internet, Bible teachers must find new ways and media for communicating Biblical truth directly to smart phones, laptops and tablets.
3) Catering for different levels of engagement
This leads to the third feature of BfL; The Menu. The material on the site is presented for the visitor to engage with the material in different levels. Using a meal format the visitor can have a 5 minute ‘Taster Course’, through watching a short video, studying an image, reading a summary or engaging with questions. A deeper engagement through other ‘products’ is available in the ‘Starter Course’, while in the ‘Main Course’ there is a “commentary” and a serious study of the imperatives of the book for the committed disciple of Jesus. The ‘Dessert Course’ is more open-ended touching on academic issues, special studies, prayers and tools for the church pastor. At the end of each course there are questions relating the key issues in the book to contemporary C21st life and issues.
4) A varied approach to suit different personalities
The fourth BfL feature is the variety of learning approaches to suit the different ways we engage with and respond to texts. As well as visual, audio and textual media there are different ways of responding what we encounter such as ‘challenge’, ‘enquiry’, ‘inter-reaction’ and ‘response’. BfL works to provide these, and this is where the related discipleship coaching is important.
5) A coaching and mentoring tool
I engage with a number of people on a monthly basis coaching them in their engagement with the Bible. The strategy throughout is to coach them to engage with the Bible for themselves. A month seems to be the right period of time for a person to engage at a deep level with one book of the Bible. As Jesus said, “The measure you use is measured to you.” Those that engage most, get most.
6) Completely free!
I look forward to the day when there are hundreds of different internet based strategies and tools for helping apprentices of Jesus unlock the dynamic of Scripture. BfL is one such tool. All the material is completely free. I hope you find it helpful. Why not visit the site now and see for yourself.