Please help – The Bible and Digital Millennials survey

codec-blue-250Can you help shape an understanding of a crucial Bible and Mission issue?

The team at the CODEC Research Centre for Digital Theology are asking ‘Christian digital millennials’ to fill in a survey as part of an important piece of research called, ‘The Bible and Digital Millennials’. They define this group as ’18-35 year olds who feel at home in the digital world e.g. use social media, shop online)’.

Please do take part or pass it on to others who can. Here is a link to the survey along with the main information taken from the first page:

The Bible and Digital Millennials – survey

Thank you for your interest in this research project.

What follows is a brief description of this survey and contact details in case you have any questions about the project. Through this research we hope to take a snapshot of how the Bible is used, viewed and thought about by Christian digital millennials (that is 18-35 year olds who feel at home in the digital world e.g. use social media, shop online).

The questionnaire is an opportunity to share your experiences and opinions, because we want to be thorough, it is substantial and will take just over 20 minutes to complete. Importantly, you would be free to withdraw at any point in time (and your data would be destroyed). We assure you that all your responses (i.e. data) will be kept confidential and anonymous, and will be stored securely for a period of five years before being destroyed. The data produced by the survey will help us understand what, if any, place and function the Bible has amongst British Christian millennials.

The project is sponsored by Bible Society and is being carried out by CODEC, a research centre of Durham University.

Foolishness, weakness, slavery, and love – Michael Barram on a missional reading of Corinthians

Fools for the sake of Christ - Michael Barram articleMichael Barram is an important figure in the field of missional hermeneutics. While his work relies on a missio Dei lens he often takes his readings in new directions. In particular I appreciate the ways in which he roots his missional reflections in the ‘locatedness’ of contemporary contexts. It’s not always comfortable reading, but always valuable.

A recent article by Barram focuses on Paul’s letters to the Corinthian Church. You will need access to the journal, or an ATLA subscription, to read it but it is another important contribution to the developing missional conversation. Here is the abstract:

Paul’s rhetoric in the Corinthian correspondence suggests that at least some of the Corinthians understood wisdom, power, freedom, and knowledge as being at the heart of Christian identity and practice in the world. Paul counters each of those terms hermeneutically, missionally—underscoring the import of foolishness, weakness, slavery, and love—with respect to his mission in the world and their own. Love, as explicated by Paul, helps to clarify why foolishness, weakness, and slavery trump wisdom, power, freedom, and knowledge. Apart from love, focusing on wisdom, power, freedom, or knowledge can become self-referential. Only in love can those characteristics move beyond themselves for the good—the building up—of others. Paul’s corrective metaphors for missional hermeneutics and praxis—foolishness, weakness, slavery, and love—represent concrete and counter-intuitive ways in which the missio Dei has been and must be manifested. In the process of exploring these issues, the article offers extended reflections on the implications of Paul’s hermeneutical reasoning for contemporary mission today.

Barram, Michael. “‘Fools for the Sake of Christ’: Missional Hermeneutics and Praxis in the Corinthian Correspondence.” Missiology 43.2 (2015): 195–207

If you want to find more of Barram’s writing on missional hermeneutics have a look at the missional hermeneutics bibliography.

Want to take this further? Come and study more about the Bible and Mission with me on Redcliffe’s MA in Contemporary Missiology, including the modules ‘Reading the Bible Missionally’ and ‘Scripture Engagement: Approaches and Issues’.

Crossing Cultures in Scripture

Crossing Cultures in ScriptureMarvin Newell has just brought out an interesting looking Bible and Mission, Crossing Cultures in Scripture: Biblical Principals for Mission Practice (IVP, 2016). Here is a link to a video on the publisher’s we site: Marvin J. Newell, Author of ‘Crossing Cultures in Scripture’

Here is the blurb and contents:

From Genesis to Revelation, the Bible is a crosscultural book. Scripture is full of narratives of God’s people crossing cultures in pursuit of God’s mission. Biblical texts shed light on mission dynamics: Sarah and Hagar functioning in an honor-shame culture, Moses as a multicultural leader, Ruth as a crosscultural conversion, David and Uriah illustrating power distance, the queen of Sheba as an international truth-seeker, Daniel as a transnational student, Paul in Athens as a model of contextualization, and much more.

Missionary and missions professor Marvin Newell provides a biblical theology of culture and mission, mining the depths of Scripture to tease out missiological insights and crosscultural perspectives. Unlike other such books that are organized topically, this text is organized canonically, revealing how the whole of Scripture speaks to contemporary mission realities.

Comprehensive in scope, filled with biblical insight and missional expertise, this book is an essential resource for students and practitioners of crosscultural ministry and mission.


Part I: Foundational Cultural Considerations

  1. Introduction to Culture
  2. Eden: The Beginning of Human Culture
  3. The Tower of Babel: Beginning of Cultural Diversity
  4. Abraham: The Father of Blessing for All Cultures

Part II: Crossing Cultures in the Old Testament

  1. Sarah and Hagar: Honor and Shame
  2. Abraham and The Hittites: Needing a Favor in a Foreign Land
  3. The Marriage of Jacob: Consequence of Crosscultural Ignorance
  4. Joseph: A Victim of Crosscultural Human Trafficking
  5. Moses: A Multicultural leader
  6. The Israelite Community: Tribes, Clans and Families
  7. Rahab: The Informed Pagan Prostitute
  8. Ruth: A Crosscultural Conversion
  9. David and Uriah: The Interplay of Power-Distance
  10. Solomon and Queen of Sheba: Crosscultural Truth Seeker
  11. Naaman: Dilemma of Conflicting Religious Obligation
  12. Jonah: Ethnocentrism to a Fault
  13. Jeremiah: Instructions for Living in a Foreign Land
  14. Daniel: Staying True to God As a Transnational Student
  15. Esther: Saving Her People from Genocide
  16. Nehemiah: Leading a “Despised” Cultural Minority

Part III: Crossing Cultures in the New Testament

  1. Jesus: His Crosscultural Encounters
  2. Jesus and the Samaritan Woman: Contrasting Worldviews
  3. The Lord’s Prayer for Missionaries
  4. Jesus’ Seven Marks of Crosscultural Success
  5. Pontius Pilate: The Clueless Crosscultural Interrogator
  6. Acts 1:8: The Crosscultural Mission of the Church
  7. The Jerusalem Church: Crosscultural Conflict Management
  8. Philip: Reaching the “The Second-Class”
  9. Peter’s Encounter with Cornelius: Crossing the Great Divide
  10. Paul in Athens: Contextualizing the Message
  11. Crosscultural Advance: Luke’s One Last Word
  12. The Self-Contextualizing of the Messenger
  13. 1 Corinthians 13: A Guide to Crosscultural Awareness
  14. The Incarnational Missionary
  15. Crosscultural Pilgrimage: Sojourning Like Abraham
  16. Eternity: Doxological Diversity


Want to take this further? Come and study more about the Bible and Mission with me on Redcliffe’s MA in Contemporary Missiology, including the modules ‘Reading the Bible Missionally’ and ‘Scripture Engagement: Approaches and Issues’.

NT Wright on Paul and missional hermeneutics

The Apostle Paul and the Christian LifeTucked away at the end of a recent edited volume on ‘The Apostle Paul and the Christian Life’ is an essay by NT Wright entitled, ‘Paul and Missional Hermeneutics’ (pp. 179-192).

It is a relatively short treatment but an interesting and useful reflection that will complement the missional hermeneutics discussion well. In particular it resonates with the work of James Brownson and his focus on the way the NT writers interpreted previous texts and traditions through the lens of the gospel. (see the Missional Hermeneutics Bibliography to follow up on this).

Reflecting on the role of Paul’s missional thinking within Wright’s immense ‘Christian Origins and the Question of God’ series, he notes his hope that he ‘would like the final volume to be about mission, with theology as its reinforcing scaffolding, rather than about theology, with mission as its possible outflowing.’ (p. 182) A tantalising prospect!

Here is the opening paragraph to give you a sense of his way into the essay:

‘Paul’s theology is widely agreed to be missional theology; that is, it is theology in service of his vocation as a missionary, specifically, as “the apostle to the gentiles.” That was not a hobby, as though he were a missionary some of the time and the writer of theologically dense letters the rest of the time. His missionary mandate shaped the rest of his life, his writing included. At the same time, most Pauline scholars would agree that in some sense his theology is hermeneutical; that is, he thinks and writes (and, we should add, prays) in constant dialogue with Israel’s Scriptures, drawing on them, engaging with them, selecting and arranging quotations and allusions from them to further his theological, and hence also his missionary, purposes. Thus-since for Paul these two aspects of his work belonged rightly together-we may say that Paul’s mission was hermeneutical and his hermeneutics were missional.’ (p. 179, his italics)

Here’s the full bibliographic reference:

Wright, N.T., ‘Paul and Missional Hermeneutics’, in McKnight, S. and Modica, J.B. The Apostle Paul and the Christian Life: Ethical and Missional Implications of the New Perspective (Grand Rapids: Baker Academic, 2016), 179-192

Want to take this further? Come and study more about the Bible and Mission with me on Redcliffe’s MA in Contemporary Missiology, including the module ‘Reading the Bible Missionally’.

The Bible According to Gen Z

(thanks to the Scripture Engagement website for making me aware of this one)

book_biblegenzBible Society Australia have brought out a collection of essays on the ways in which Generation Z are engaging with the Bible. Here’s some blurb and the contents list:

Did you know:

Only 4 per cent of young people read the Bible daily and 7 out of 10 have never read it.

Young people are ten times more likely to read the Bible if they are involved in a group which encourages them to do so.

Only 1 in 100 youth will pick up the Bible out of curiosity or interest.

Find out how you can engage young people with the Bible; what’s working and what isn’t, and to get that other 99 to pick up a Bible. Bible Society’s Adrian Blenkinsop has pulled together a collection of essays for youth engagement with the Bible to help them, and their youth leaders, keep the faith.

Ch1. Bible engagement amongst Australian young people – Philip Hughes

Ch2. From the coal face – Adrian Blenkinsop

Ch3. Six leaders respond to the findings: Graham Stanton, Kylie Butler, Cameron Bennett, Fr Chris Ryan, Mark Mitchell, Brenton Killeen

Ch4. Case study 1: City Bible Walks – Christop Booth

Ch5. Case study 2: Immerse – Travis Johnson

Ch6. Case study 3: Vetamorph – Paul ‘Digger’ Randle

For more details go to Bible Society Australia’s website

Free training guide for Bible Listening Groups

Over at the Scripture Engagement website Richard Margetts has posted a free training guide for leaders and promoters of Bible listening groups. Here’s a little bit of blurb and a link to the post. It would be fascinating to consider how this practice could be used in a UK setting. Have you seen this done?

An interactive workshop for training listening group leaders and promoters
Author: Richard Margetts

The training workshop described in this guide was developed in West Africa and includes input received from around the world. It is for listening group leaders (those who lead/facilitate the groups) and for group promoters (those who visit groups to encourage them and mentor the facilitators).

A listening group is an opportunity for people to get together to listen to a passage from the Bible and talk about it together. In this guide, you’ll find elements which focus on the ‘why’ of listening groups as well as the practical details of ‘how’ to lead a group.


Games as Scripture Engagement

t-shirtThis is a guest post by Peter Brassington on a fascinating and innovative area of Scripture Engagement: Games. Here he explores some ideas about games, game elements, and God.

headshotAlthough Redcliffe has an excellent library, I couldn’t find a copy of Moltmann’s “Theology of Play” when I visited for the first time at the start of my MA. I wasn’t in the library at the time but looking through the library catalog online from my room. Things have changed since I last studied theology.moltmann

Looking out of my window however I did spot something pertinent to my search – a collection of students, serious in their desire to serve God and to bring hope to a suffering world were on the lawn throwing a frisby around. Later at dinner some of the professors that I was keen to talk to about my various interests in missiology, socio-linguistics, and digital language vitality, were having a conversation about rugby.

Clearly ‘play’ has its place in the lives of serious theologians and missionaries, as it does in the lives of everyone else. But when was the last time you heard a lecture on the “theology of play” or a sermon about what games Jesus would play? If you are involved in children’s ministry or youth work then games and fun activities are probably a key part of your toolkit. But how much are they a standard part of the wider thinking of mission agencies and how much are they a part of the mission of God?

Complete the proverb:

“All work and no play…”

  1. “ …make jack a dull boy”
  2. “…demonstrates that Jack has a firm grasp of the protestant work ethic”

Play serves many functions in society not simply as a tool to bring about education and behavioral reinforcement, but as a natural way of exploring new ideas, developing skills and habits, and of relaxing and socializing.

Eminent theologians, sociologists, educationalists, psychologists, therapists, and marketing experts have written on various issues around what kinds of games are beneficial, how much screen time and out-door play should be allowed or encouraged.

Other missionaries and evangelists seem to have instinctively known that people of all ages like to play.

Agencies like Wycliffe have used games as part of their recruitment and training for decades. The Wycliffe Game was quietly consigned to the archives a few years before I joined, as being a little out of date. But many of the activities in their Idea Bank are still being used (with occasional updates) 30 years after they were first written.

MissioMaze ( is the latest incarnation of one simulation idea now planeavailable as an iphone app, in which the expectations on a Western missionary of a sending church are compared to the demands of life ‘on the field’.

Meanwhile phone apps are increasingly being used as tools for evangelism and discipleship, not because people waste time on games and so we must hook them with game-like tracts, but because people play games and games have value.

In some contexts ‘Christian games’ are used to mean ‘safe’, ‘family friendly’ games that wouldn’t offend anyone. I believe games can have a harder edge and tackle serious social and spiritual issues.

morabaOne good example of games being put to serious use is UN backed whose game Moraba has been used to address gender based violence in South Africa. Read and hear about it at and then play it for yourself How might you do something to address these or similar issues in your own context ?


Gamification is a relatively new term that has become a multi-billion dollar industry. It’s basically the idea of using game elements igotandemn non-game environments. For game elements think points, badges, leaderboards, onboarding, leveling up, boss-fights, or simply the theme tune of a TV quiz show.

For non-game environments think, work, exercise, dieting, housework, or Bible study. A couple of years ago the YouVersion ( Bible app started awarding virtual badges to people for finishing a study series. The Go-Tandem site and app ( ) is designed to help you in your spiritual development with a series of nudges and game like elements used to track your progress.

yellow chartEcube outlinethnomusicology emerged as a valid field of missionary activity as missionaries began to recognize that not only did different cultures have different ideas about music but that God might also have quite a wide taste and appreciate these different expressions. As I began to learn about the emerging field of gamification and wonder to what extent it would find its place in cross cultural mission I wondered if a new field of ethnogamification might emerge, as expat and local missionaries began to explore local games and game elements as ways of connecting and engaging people.

Google for Ethnogamification and you’ll see it hasn’t caught on widely yet but you will find everything I’ve written on the subject.

I have lectured a couple of times at Redcliffe on the possibilities of games and gamification and had the opportunity recently to lead a training track on “Designing Games for Scripture Engagement” at a major conference in Asia. (it was a small track but it will get bigger)

The main presentation isn’t written as a game but it’s playful, and you can explore and search for hidden surprises as well as the big picture messages. It includes links to some of the existing Christian games, a group of Christian Game Developers, and tools that you could use to build your own games.

Click to play?

Peter is a student on Redcliffe’s MA in Contemporary Missiology (Scripture Engagement). He blogs on Digital Engagement (and a bit on games) at digital2031

Want to take this further? Come and study more about Bible and Mission on Redcliffe’s Summer school mode Contemporary Missiology MA, including the module ‘Reading the Bible Missionally’ running this July.


Finding our true identity in God’s mission

Why Are We Here?Who are we as Church and why do we exist?

Here’s what David Bosch has to say in his closing remarks on a chapter on Matthew’s Gospel.

‘The disciples are called to proclaim Jesus’ ultimate victory over the power of evil, to witness to his abiding presence, and to lead the world toward the recognition of the love of God. In Matthew’s view, Christians find their true identity when they are involved in mission, in communicating to others a new way of life, a new interpretation of reality and of God, and in committing themselves to the liberation and salvation of others. A missionary community is one that understands itself as being both different from and committed to its environment; it exists within its context in a way which is both winsome and challenging (cf Frankemölle 1982:99, 127f). In the midst of confusion and uncertainty, Matthew’s community is driven back to its roots, to the persons and experiences which gave birth to it, so that it can rediscover and reclaim those persons and events, come to a more appropriate self-understanding, and on the basis of this discern the nature of its existence and calling (cf LaVerdiere and Thompson 1976:594).’

It is now 25 years since the publication of Transforming Mission. To mark the occasion this year’s Global Connections Mission Educators Forum (16-17 June) is on the theme of ‘Beyond Bosch’. Along with Kirsteen Kim and John Corrie, I will be speaking at the event. My session is entitled, ‘The Bible and Mission Beyond Bosch’.

Want to take this further? Come and study more about Bible and Mission with me on Redcliffe’s Summer school mode Contemporary Missiology MA, including the module ‘Reading the Bible Missionally’ running this July.

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‘We have to learn a new method of using the Bible as a missionary book’

IMG_0460I came across this wonderful quote recently and was struck by how much it mirrors contemporary writing on missional hermeneutics. It can be found in V.F. Storr’s brilliantly titled, The Missionary Genius of the Bible (London: Hodder & Stoughton). Writing in the aftermath of the Great War and in the midst of significant changes across the globe and within biblical scholarship, Storr sensed that a new and more profound examination of mission in the light of the Bible was required.

He penned these words in 1924 but they would be right at home within the growing body of literature on a missional reading of Scripture.

A great cause needs a great backing; and to match the growing sense of the largeness of missionary enterprise must be an enlargement of the appeal which we make to the Bible. It is, for instance, not enough to quote from Scripture a series of proof-texts in support of missions. The proof-text suspended in mid-air is useless. It must be related to its context. It must be shown to stand out from a background which is essentially missionary in colour. We must, in a word, see the revelation in the Bible in its large, bold outlines, in the big sweep of its movement, in its progressive character and unfolding purpose. We have to learn a new method of using the Bible as a missionary book.


Rob Bradshaw at has just announced he has put up Storr’s book as part of his project to digitise out-of-copyright mission books. It was provided by Cambridge Centre of Christianity Worldwide.

Here’s a link to the page where you can download Storr’s book

Want to take this further? Come and study more about Bible and Mission with me on Redcliffe’s Summer school mode Contemporary Missiology MA, including the module ‘Reading the Bible Missionally’ running this July.

Event: Making it missional – a fresh approach to preaching, reading and studying the Bible


Next month I’ll be leading an evening seminar for local churches that aims to connect insights from the developing missional hermeneutics discussion with local congregations and communities. Here are the details:

Making it Missional

a fresh approach to preaching, reading and studying the Bible

Wednesday 20 April 2016, 7:30-9:30pm   |   Redcliffe College, College Green, Gloucester, GL1 2LX
£5 including refreshments

In recent years, a revolution has been taking place in the way the Church grasps the missional nature of Scripture. Come and explore with Dr Tim Davy what this could mean for our local congregations and communities. Tim has taught Bible and Mission at Redcliffe for a number of years. His PhD focused on the missional interpretation of the Bible and he leads the Bible and Mission stream of Redcliffe’s MA in Contemporary Missiology. Tim’s module, Reading the Bible Missionally will run during this July’s MA Summer School.

Reserve your place now

Want to take this further? Come and study more about Bible and Mission with me on Redcliffe’s Summer school mode Contemporary Missiology MA, including the module ‘Reading the Bible Missionally’ running this July.