Posted by: timjdavy | October 10, 2013

Making Bible Studies Missional – part three

God is King

(Continuing the series on Making Bible Studies Missional – read parts one and two here)

The ability to ask good questions is a monumentally underrated skill. Consider the reflections of Isidor Rabi, a Nobel laureate in physics: ”My mother made me a scientist without ever intending it. Every other Jewish mother in Brooklyn would ask her child after school: ‘So? Did you learn anything today?’ But not my mother. She always asked me a different question. ‘Izzy,’ she would say, ‘did you ask a good question today?’ That difference – asking good questions – made me become a scientist!”

What questions could we be asking in our Bible Studies to make them more missional?

This past weekend I was leading an intensive module here at Redcliffe on Reading the Bible Missionally, which is part of our MA in Bible and Mission programme. One of the themes we kept returning to was how we might move the scholarly discussion on the missional interpretation of Scripture into a Wednesday evening home group. How might the questions asked by scholars need to change in order to work for those not immersed in the missional hermeneutics conversation? I also reflected on this with a Psalms class the following day. Here is just one attempt at articulating a question, of which there would be many:

‘In what ways does this passage make a claim for the rule of God in our lives, our churches, our communities and our world?’

Such a question recognises the reign of God (whether we frame it in terms of the Kingship of Yahweh or the lordship of Christ) and asks us to consider what this reign means for us. It is not just a call to consider the extent to which our lives are aligned with that reign, though it certainly requires that. It is also a challenge to take our contexts seriously and to consider creatively how the reign of God can be discerned and embodied in the world, and how we might participate in that.

What questions would you ask to make our Bible Studies more missional?

[If you'd like to chat about studying Bible and Mission at Redcliffe College have a look at the college's website or email me at tdavy[at]]

job for everyoneI’ve just co-edited the latest issue of Redcliffe’s free, online Encounters Mission Journal with Graham Dancy, a recent graduate of Redcliffe’s MA in Bible and Mission who works with Ambassadors Football (previously called Ambassadors in Sport). The topic this issue is ‘From the Bookshelf to the Classroom and Beyond’. Here is the blurb and listing of articles. I contributed a review of John Goldingay’s Job for Everyone in which I also reflect on how the book has challenged me as a teacher here at Redcliffe.

A good teacher never stops learning and reflecting. This edition of Encounters is dedicated to book reviews by members of the faculty of Redcliffe College. Although the titles covered are varied, the unifying theme is our request to participants that they complement their reviews by reflecting on how their reading might be useful for or influence their teaching.

One of the big developments in recent months at Redcliffe is the move to the College of the Wycliffe Bible Translators training, now called the Centre for Linguistics, Translation and Literacy (CLTL). This issue of Encounters therefore provides a timely opportunity to mark this exciting move and introduce some of the Faculty involved in those programmes.

The first review is by Carol Orwig, who discusses Michael Agar’s book Language Shock: The culture of communication, a book that provides a very realistic framework for language learning that goes beyond grammar and vocabulary and takes into account cultural issues. Staying with the cultural dynamic of language, David Gray reviews Translating Cultures by David Katan. Picking out some of the many (and often humorous) examples offered by Katan, David applies the difficulties of translating across cultures to his own translation consultancy and teaching on CLTL courses. Following this, Howard Jackson evaluates the three volume Basic Linguistic Theory by R.M. Dixon. Offering a brief description of each volume, Jackson recommends Dixon’s compendium as an indispensable guide to field linguistics.

Catherine Young draws on her own experience of living with the poor to review the revised edition of Bryant Myers’ challenging book Walking with the Poor: Principles and Practices of Transformational Development. The original edition has been a key book for her work in education and development among minority ethnolinguistic communities and she notes with approval the additional perspectives from around the globe in this new edition. On a very different tack but also meeting the needs of today’s complex world, Ted Pilling takes a look at Pathways to Jesus: Crossing the Thresholds to Faith by Don Everts and Doug Schaupp. He suggests it will be useful not only in the classroom for modules in evangelism and discipleship but also in our own interaction with today’s postmodern generation.

Inspired by John Goldingay’s Job for Everyone, Tim Davy notes the challenge of appropriate vulnerability in the classroom and wider community, as well as the missional importance of lament. On a different note, Daniel Button looks at The Language of Science and Faith by Karl Giberson and Francis Collins. He believes this will become a key text for his students and highly recommends it to all who are grappling with the science-faith divide. And finally, Hugh Kemp, whose The One-Stop Guide to World Religions has been published this month by Lion Hudson, relates the issues raised in Stephen Prothero’s God is Not One: The Eight Rival Religions that run the World – and Why their Differences Matter to the way we think about communicating the Gospel in relation to other religions.

Eight reviews of widely different books, but all providing useful tools for seeking to engage with, and communicate more effectively to, our complex world.

Graham Dancy and Tim Davy, Lecturer in Biblical Studies & Mission
Director of the Centre for the Study of Bible and Mission (Issue co-editors)

Article 1: Agar/Language Shock. (Carol Orwig)

Article 2: Katan/Translating Cultures. (David Gray)

Article 3: Dixon/Basic Linguistic Theory. (Howard Jackson)

Article 4: Myers/Walking with the poor. (Catherine Young)

Article 5: Everts and Schaupp/Pathways to Jesus. (Ted Pilling)

Article 6: Goldingay/Job for Everyone. (Tim Davy)

Article 7: Giberson & Collins/The language of science and faith. (Dan Button)

Article 8: Prothero/God is not one. (Hugh Kemp)

And finally, a single PDF of the whole issue. Ideal for using offline or to make printing easier.

Issue 46: Single Document Version (in full)

Posted by: timjdavy | September 25, 2013

Making Bible Studies Missional – part two


*Photo credit: Elyse Patten, Wycliffe Global Alliance Caption: Tevita Lalahi interacts during a Bible storytelling workshop on the island of ‘Eua

Earlier in the Summer I began a series looking at how a missional understanding of the Bible can influence the way we do small group Bible studies. (You can read the first post here: Making Bible Studies Missional – part one)

I have grown immensely from participating in Bible studies that dig into the biblical text with insightful questions and thoughtful points of application. But I am increasingly aware that this approach suits me because I am used to it and am accustomed to approaching written texts in this way. To what extent could we describe our Bible study approaches as reading comprehension? No bad thing but does it lead only certain people to an engagement with the text?

How accessible are our Bible studies to those not used to dealing with the written text, or who prefer not to?

What do you make of this statistic from the National Literacy Trust: ‘One in six people in the UK struggle with literacy. This means their literacy is below the level expected of an eleven year old’.

Making Bible studies missional isn’t just about making the content missional. It should be about making the experience missional as well.

One suggestion for how we might be able to shape our engagement with the Bible to be more appropriate and accessible for those who prefer not to deal with written texts is to develop practices that acknowledge the phenomenon of orality. On 18-23 November Redcliffe is hosting a course in Bible Storying. Check out the website for more details.

Posted by: timjdavy | September 23, 2013

The Bible, mission, fostering and adoption – any questions?

homeforgood- logoIn a few days I’m going to be posting a Q&A with Krish Kandiah about the fantastic Home for Good initiative and how fostering and adoption relate to the Bible and God’s mission.
This is a subject that has already come up in the first week of lectures here at Redcliffe: specifically, what are the implications of the Psalmist’s description of God as a ‘father to the fatherless’ (Ps. 68:5)? Is this just a nice literary flourish, or does this image have deeper and more resonant social and ethical implications for the people of God today?
What questions would you like me to ask Krish about the Bible, God’s mission, fostering and adoption? Have a look at the Home for Good website, along with the ‘about’ description below, and drop me a line with some suggestions:
Every day more than 50 children are taken into care in the UK. They are removed from chaotic, traumatic, abusive, neglectful or desperate situations. Some of them need a home in an emergency. Some of them need a temporary home until they can return to their families. Some of them need an occasional home to give their families a break. Some of them need a permanent home with a new forever family.

The Church is uniquely placed to offer its help to meet this need. As a large social network with involvement of large numbers of families, the Church is fertile soil for recruitment. Once carers have been through the full process of assessment, the Church could also provide an excellent community of support to wrap around families who are adopting or fostering children.

After a year of extensive consultation, with foster carers, adoptive parents, church leaders, social work professionals and fostering and adoption agencies, Care for the FamilyCCPAS (The Churches’ Child Protection Advisory Service) and the Evangelical Alliance have launched the Home for Good initiative.

Home for Good aims to change the culture in local churches throughout the UK, to make adopting and fostering a significant part of their life and ministry.  It is a fantastic opportunity for the Church to be good news in society, change our communities and transform the lives of some of the most vulnerable children in the UK.

Could you use your home for good by providing a foster placement for a child? Or could you provide a child with a home for good by adopting them into your family?

There are three components of Home for Good:

(1) A national church-facing campaign
The Evangelical Alliance will lead this campaign, targeting the heads of denominations, networks and festivals, as well as identifying and resourcing fostering and adoption champions in our churches. We plan to produce creative campaigns around National Adoption Week and Fostering Fortnight, and after a successful pilot of an Adoption Sunday in November 2012 we plan to roll out this idea nationally in 2013.

(2) Support Services
In June 2012 we held consultation events in Belfast, Birmingham, Cardiff, Glasgow, London and Manchester, learning from the expertise of social workers and Christian foster carers and adopters. There was an overwhelming request for more support. Care for the Family are currently assessing what support is already available, and will then develop a model of support that meets these needs, while complementing the support services that already exist.

(3) Increasing understanding
CCPAS has a professional reputation among both faith groups and the statutory agencies for setting standards in safeguarding and for putting the welfare and safety of children first. They will produce resources for churches and statutory agencies about how they can work together and develop models of good working practices. This will help faith groups have a better understanding of the issues surrounding fostering and adoption and enable social workers and those within the statutory agencies to develop a solid understanding of faith issues.

Posted by: timjdavy | September 20, 2013

Rollin Grams on six models for ministry remuneration

What is the biblical way for funding missionaries? In an article entitled ‘Issues Facing Missions Today: 6. Remuneration for Ministry’ Rollin Grams suggests this question is flawed because the Bible offers a number of different possible models:

The Levitical, Institutional Religion Model;
The Radical Missionary Model;
The Kingdom Community Model;
The Household Model;
The Qualified Household Worker Model;
The Pauline, Tent Making, Missions Model

Here’s how he introduces his outline of the models. What I like about it is his insistence that we work hard to consider not just how we copy what we see happening in the Bible, but what lies behind what we see. This is another good example of the significance of contextualisation within the mission of God, both in the pages of Scripture but also in our own, contemporary contexts.

We find in Scripture at least six different views on remuneration for ministers.  These involve different models for ministry, each with a different focus, different metaphors for ministry, different things being opposed, and different values.  What we learn from Scripture in examining these models is not the Biblical practice that we ought to follow today but ways in which to discuss these matters as people of the Spirit in our own contexts.  What is required of us is a good performance in our contexts of the various concerns and values that we find in the various Biblical models for ministry.


What do you think?

Interested in learning more about mission in the Bible and the Bible in mission? Check out Redcliffe College’s Study @ pages for more details

brian russell catalyst articleFor an number of years Brian Russell has been an excellent advocate of a missional hermeneutic and how it relates to Church, the Bible and mission.

In the latest issue of the online journal Catalyst Brian contributes an article on Exploring New Language for Proclaiming the Gospel. He opens it up by saying:

The key to developing new language for proclaiming the gospel is learning to listen to the surrounding culture for its prevailing metaphors and stories. It’s not about our creativity as communicators but our capacity to listen and study attentively. Our assumption is that our missional God in the person of the Risen Christ is leading his people into the world on mission. Jesus goes before us. It’s our task to be attentive to the Spirit’s leading so that we may build on what God is already doing. In other words, the new language already exists. It’s up to us to find it, refit it with gospel content, and deploy it. Think of Paul on Mars Hill in Acts 17. It’s about committing to using the language of the street and the marketplace rather than only the language of the church. When we read the Scriptures within their ancient contexts, we discover that biblical authors drew deeply from the prevailing culture in deploying the metaphors and symbols of the day as vehicles for telling God’s story.

He then illustrates this with some examples from the books of Genesis, Exodus and Philippians before finishing with three questions for the reader to consider:

What are the dominant ideals and stories of the people whom God has sent you to serve?

How does the gospel engage these ideas?

What language is already present that can serve as a vehicle for clearly communicating the gospel in your context?

I’m really pleased to see Brian writing on these issues. Knowing the historical and cultural background to biblical texts can provide wonderful insights which fuel our understanding of the Bible and how it relates to mission. As Brian illustrates, it can also fuel how we do mission as well.

Here’s a link to a video where Brian explains his passion for what he does.

He has also contributed to issues of Redcliffe’s Encounters Mission Journal:

Reading the Bible with the Global Church - A Response from the United States - March 2013

Psalms 1-2 as an introduction to Reading the Psalms Missionally - June 2010

Breaking Open the Text: A reflection on Chris Wright’s Missional Reading of Jeremiah - June 2009

You can also read Brian’s blog articles on missional hermeneutics here

Posted by: timjdavy | September 16, 2013

Bible and Mission resources for a new year

ImageOne of the aims of the Centre for the Study of Bible and Mission is to act as a signpost to loads of great resources that will help you think about mission in the Bible and the Bible in mission.

As I mentioned in Wednesday’s post on Ed Stetzer on Missions vs Missional, we are beginning a new academic year at Redcliffe College over the next few days. Whether they are studying as part of our Degree in Applied Theology in Intercultural Contexts or our MA in Bible and Mission, I will be pointing them to the Bible and Mission resources highlighted in this site. In particular, we have worked hard to list books and articles that will be useful. Many of these are freely accessible to read online so we’ve provided links where possible.

So, take a look around our resources section and enjoy! And if there is anything missing do let us know.

NT Wright’s new 1700 page book on Paul and the Faithfulness of God is out in a few weeks and there is a video of an interesting interview with him by Michael Bird here.

What struck me was the importance Wright gives to the missional nature of the identity and activity of both Paul himself and also the churches he was planting. Here’s the key part of the interview, which begins at around 4 mins 15 seconds:

Paul was doing [his theology] in the service of the mission that he had. He wasn’t an armchair thinker. He was doing this because he believed it was his job. It was his vocation to plant churches (i.e., little communities of Jesus followers) in Caesar’s world, in such a way that they would be communities shaped by this message, by this gospel, by this theology, so that they would be united, so that they would be holy, so that they would be able to take forward the mission of God.

Here’s the blurb from SPCK’s website on the book itself:

We are proud to announce that the highly anticipated fourth volume of the Christian Origins and the Question of God series is currently in production and due for publication in October 2013!

Paul and the Faithfulness of God pays rich tribute to the breadth and depth of the apostle’s vision, and offers an unparalleled wealth of insights into his life, times and lasting impact.

Rowan Williams says:

‘Tom Wright’s long-awaited full-length study of St Paul will not in any way disappoint the high expectations that surround it.  From the very first sentence, it holds the attention, arguing a strong, persuasive, coherent and fresh case, supported by immense scholarship and comprehensive theological intelligence. ’

Paul and the Faithfulness of God will be bound as a 2-volume set and available in both paperback and hardback at £65 and £125 respectively.

Professor Wright has said of the work:

St Paul was highly controversial in his own day, and he remains so, not only for Christians and Jews but in western culture as a whole. In this new two-volume treatment I argue for a particular historical and theological understanding of him. He remains a deeply Jewish thinker, but his vision of the three central Jewish beliefs – one God, one people of God, one future for the world – was reworked around Jesus as the Messiah and around the holy spirit.

David G. Horrell, Professor of New Testament Studies, University of Exeter writes:

Tom Wright’s big book on Paul has long been eagerly awaited. And here it is! Massive in every sense of the word, this is a synthetic, scholarly, and comprehensive analysis of Paul, worked out using the key categories outlined in The New Testament and the People of God, showing how Paul, as a Jew in the Roman Empire, reworked the framework of monotheism, election, and eschatology around Jesus and the Spirit. Written with elegance and humour, full of detailed exegesis and engaging with a very wide range of contemporary scholarship, this major achievement will be a landmark in the field of Pauline studies for many years to come.

Posted by: timjdavy | September 11, 2013

Ed Stetzer on Missions vs Missional

ImageAs we approach the start of a new academic year it’s good to ask some fundamental questions about what we mean by the term ‘mission’ and why it matters.

It seems that there has been a trend in recent years for fewer people to go into long-term work overseas. While there may be lots of reasons for this, one that is sometimes suggested is the growing conviction that we already have a mission field here in the UK. There is so much to do here so why go elsewhere?

Obviously it is utterly fantastic that we as a Church realise our already-sentness: that God has placed us to be bearers of his good news right where we are. And, of course, ‘where we are’ may be just as intercultural (if not more so) that many places around the world.

But where does that leave the need to send and support people to go overseas?

In an article for Christianity Today (Missions vs. Missional? Why We Really Need Both), US missiologist Ed Stetzer makes a helpful contribution to the discussion, arguing that we need both. Indeed,

The two issues are distinct and yet integrated. They are not mutually exclusive, but thrive best when they are both embraced and implemented in a local church body. Living on mission is not a missions issue, per se. It’s a Christian issue. Part of living on mission, however, must lead to missions…

Mission and missions need to live together. Missional churches—those focused on living on mission where we are—must remember that Jesus called us to reach people where the gospel is not. I want us to be missional, living as agents of God’s mission in context, but you can’t take John 20:21 in isolation without also remembering Matthew 28:18-20 and Acts 1:8.

In other words, a passion to reach the lost globally should impact how we live out our faith locally. Similarly, a missional mindset in our local community should shape us in such a way as to invest ourselves in the less-local. They fuel each other.

And as I prepare to teach my classes this semester (A Missional Intro to the OT; Missional Texts: Psalms and Genesis 1-11; Missional Texts: Isaiah; Reading the Bible Missionally) Stetzer’s article is a helpful reminder that a whole-Bible approach is essential. Just because I feel I can justify one course of action as biblical, this doesn’t mean it is the only biblical course of action. It is not that we are being unbiblical; rather we are not being biblical enough.

Roll on the new term!

Posted by: timjdavy | September 6, 2013

Offline access to NIV freely available

I get a lot of hits on old posts notifying people that they can access different Bible versions on their phones. Often this happens for a limited amount of time, but YouVersion has just announced a more permanent opportunity to access the NIV, as well as some other versions. Here’s the blurb with links:

By Popular Demand: Offline Access to NIV & More

The New International Version (NIV) and 30 other versions from Biblica are now available for free download through the Bible App™. Biblica has been a valuable partner since YouVersion’s early days, and we’re thrilled with their bold move to make this diverse collection of versions available to the global YouVersion community.

These versions represent some of your favorites in 25 languages, including NVI in Spanish and Brazilian PortugueseKLB in KoreanNIV-UK in British EnglishHFA in GermanHTB in Dutch, and BDS in French. It’s a huge step forward in increasing worldwide Scripture engagement and availability.

If you download any of these versions to your device, you’ll be able to read it anytime, anywhere—even when you can’t connect to your service provider or to the Internet. And this is not a limited-time special offer.Beginning today, Biblica is making these versions available offline on an ongoing basis.

(If you’re not sure how to download a Bible version to your device, visit our support website to learn how easy it is!)

We are deeply grateful for Biblica’s partnership and all that it has already meant to YouVersion and to our community worldwide. Biblica continues to demonstrate increasing passion about the mission of helping this generation become the most Bible-engaged generation in history.

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