I remember the beginning of my spiritual growth as a babe in Christ. I was isolated and not connected to a local church. I had no one to disciple me. I was disconnected from the Christian community, and it clearly affected my Christian progress. I was not growing until two years later when the Lord led me to a local church that would jump-start my spiritual growth as I was discipled to engage the Scriptures. My hunger and thirst for God’s Word and His people spiked tremendously, and my life was transformed radically by God’s grace.
A recent study conducted by The Center of Bible Engagement polled 40,000 people, ages 8-80, to see how people were engaging in the Scriptures. The compiled findings indicated that there were profound differences between people who engage the Scriptures at least four times a week and those who engage less often. The effects were astoundingly higher on day four. Another recent study revealed a surprising decrease in Scripture engagement among believers since the beginning of COVID-19. Why is that? What has changed since the pandemic?
Could it be that the decrease in church attendance due to live-streaming from home has been a contributing factor? Is it possible that the lack of engagement with the local Christian community impacts one’s engagement with Scripture? The two go hand-in-hand. Has the impact of the virus caused believers to disengage from the church? The need for Scripture engagement has increased dramatically, but can a person read the Bible from home alone? Of course, and they should. So what benefit is the local church community?
The centrality of the local church is one of the core values of Bibles International. God is fulfilling His program through the church during this period of history. In 1 Timothy 3:15, the church of the living God is called "the pillar and ground of truth." In 1 Corinthians 12, the church is called the body of Christ where the members care for one another. In Hebrews 10:24-25, the members of the church are called to exhort one another daily, not to forsake the assembling of themselves together, and to consider one another so as to stir up love and good works. According to Acts 2:40-47, those who believed were together and had all things in common. They continued daily with one accord in the temple and from house to house. In the New Testament, the people of God engaged the Scriptures through preaching, teaching, discipling, listening, public reading, study, and mutual application and accountability in the context of the local church.
The need for the Bible in the mother tongue of language groups globally is paramount. However, engaging the Scriptures in community produces spiritual fruit for the entire body. In order to assist the churches worldwide to skillfully use the Scriptures for spiritual transformation, BI has begun the new Scripture Engagement Department (SED), which will work in cooperation with BI's Text Production Department (TPD) and the Projects Management Department (PMD). This triad of departments works together as a cohesive unit ensuring that the technical (TPD), logistical (PMD), and ministerial (SED) aspects of Bible translation accomplish the goal of national church ownership and effective use of the translated Word by the language group.
Pray for the churches worldwide. May the ministry of Bible translation not be focused solely on the completed product of a translated Bible. Instead, may the focus be upon the centrality of the churches as they gain ownership and effectively use the translated Scriptures for transformation and Spirit-wrought motivation to obey the Great Commission among their own people.