Bible Translation Church: UK


How on earth do we get Bible translation onto the agenda of the church in the UK? There are still 300,000,000  people without a word of Scripture available to them – but it’s ever so hard to make people in the UK aware of this.

Let me give you an example. Gordon Kennedy, who is a very nice chap, blogged on Monday evening’s meeting at Kingdom Come in Belfast. He gives a brief overview of the evening, including a summary of the amazing message from Gordon MacDonald. However, he failed to mention the short Wycliffe presentation that I gave that evening.

Kingdom Come is a big conference for church leaders and I knew that the main speaker would be excellent. It was always going to be difficult to make a mission presentation stand out, so I thought long and hard about what I should do. I avoided doing a traditional missionary talk and tried to capture people’s imagination for God’s mission. My mention of Wycliffe was almost a throwaway line at the end. I hoped that by doing something unexpected, my message would be memorable – judge for yourself how well I succeeded.

My talk was part of the opening section; the bulk of the evening was given over to Gordon MacDonald. His talk was excellent and inspiring. It was just what the leaders there needed – it certainly did me a lot of good. But, sadly from my point of view,  I’m pretty sure that by the end of his talk everyone had more or less forgotten what I had said. Of course, I was pleased that the main message was so good, but boy was I frustrated that the short presentation I had worked on was so overwhelmed.

Just how do we get to promote the need for people around the world to hear God’s word in their own language? Most weekends, I end up speaking about Bible translation in a church somewhere around the country, but there must be a way to speak to larger groups (though church invites are always welcome).

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5 replies on “Frustration!”

Know the feeling well.
FYI when we had our Biblefresh consultation with church leaders here in Glasgow I must confess although the meeting went well I was very disappointed in the interest that was shown in the Bible translation track. Every one present seemed to be very enthusiastic about the tracks that involved getting people back here in the UK into the Bible – which is good. However, whilst they recognised the imporatance of Bible translation they obvioulsy weren’t getting fired up about it – nor did they seem to have any intention of doing so! Mission is the Cinderalla of the Church and Bible translation seems to be the Cinderalla of mission – at the bottom of the agenda as far as many people are concerned. It always ahs been and looks like it always will be a real struggle to get people in the churches in the UK onboard.

Not an easy 7-minute challenge!

Eddie, I enjoyed watching the video. You are wondering whether people had forgotten a lot of what you said, but maybe there could be a sense that a lot of your audience thought they knew it all already, so didn’t need to make a special effort to remember it? You spent 5 out of the 7 minutes giving a Bible overview – which was very well told – but which most church leaders will have been familiar with. They might have been asking, “Yes, this is true, but why is he reminding us of this?” Perhaps there was something missing near the start that made them sit up and think, “I’d better listen carefully now! This is relevant! This is just what we need to hear!”

How would it be possible to engage the audience with part of their own story at the beginning and draw them back into God’s story? OK… 7 minutes is hard!

I’m really not worried about my presentation. It was unusual and not the normal way to do a missionary gig – but that was the point. A lot of people immediately afterwards said that they had enjoyed it. The problem is that almost any seven minute missionary slot would have been overshadowed by an amazing hour long pastoral talk.

Hi Eddie,
Of course I thought that telling the Story is fabulous, I’m a smidge biased that way. I’m also a big fan of the gimmick. Do you know the Holy Bible trick flip book, or using the blank NT the way they do in some of the OneVerse videos? Corny, maybe more suited to Americans, but always a powerful hook that I use to pull them in before I get into the story. Those are the pieces that people remember and comment on after I speak.

Very frustrating. I wonder in that sort of gathering whether one could do the thing where you give sweets to a few people and ask the rest if it feels unfair. With kids you then give everyone sweets, but with mature adults you could just leave them feeling miffed that they didn’t get any. They might remember that!

David, maybe next year when their congregations get excited about the Bible then the congregations will appreciate the translation track. It’s early days yet.

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