Tuesday 30 March 2010

Krish Kandiah on the Bible: Tedious, Taboo and Toxic or Transforming, Treasured and True?

Notes from a seminar at the London launch of Biblefresh (30 March 2010):

Krish began by telling the story of going to a church to speak during the recent heavy snow in the UK, packing his car with supplies, and reversing out of the path only to drive over his rucksack containing his laptop – containing music, talks, powerpoint presentations, movie clips, etc. – all destroyed in the process. Krish commented (wryly) that he was due to give a talk on Psalm 119, and all he had was his Bible…

From 2 Timothy 3:10-17 comes the assurance that it’s the Scriptures the church needs. Of course, it’s okay to use technology, but it’s also apparent that the church has managed to witness to Jesus throughout the centuries with the Bible. We want to see the church change society, and we can only do that if we engage with the Scriptures.

Recent surveys suggest that many people no longer have confidence in the Scriptures. But not only have we lost confidence, we’ve also lost appetite. We have more Bibles than ever before, but seem to be reading them less and less.

Krish referred here to the video of a Linkin Park song containing the lyric ‘Let mercy come, and wash away what I’ve done’ – juxtaposing pictures of some people unable to eat because of lack of food and others unable to eat because of lack of appetite.

Biblefresh exists because of lack of confidence and lack of appetite, with the desire is for the whole church to re-engage with the Bible in 2011. 2011 is the 400th anniversary of the King James Version of the Bible. Things will be happening in the wider culture, and it would be great if churches could cash in on the interest that will be generated.

So, Biblefresh is asking churches to become Biblefresh churches for 2011, and to make pledges in four areas:

• Bible reading – what can we do as a church to encourage people to read the Bible more? Krish referred here to the Weightwatchers mentality – the significance of getting weighed with others, being accountable to others. We often make Bible reading something ‘personal’ – and it is – but what if we read the Bible as a church – read the Bible through together in a year, say, and supplemented it with housegroup meetings or website material.

• Bible training – people who teach on the Bible have the potential to sow passion and apathy for the Bible. If we can help to raise up inspirational Bible teachers, that will make a difference in the church. We want the church to commit to training, for preachers to go on refresher courses. Of course, it’s not just preachers who teach Scripture. For Timothy, it was his mother and grandmother – so let’s think about training up the whole church to handle Scriptures better – youthworkers, Sunday school teachers, for instance, many of whom have had little input in handling the Bible. Let’s invest in training – by doing some teaching about the Bible in the church, going to a conference or festival, or attending a teaching series in a Bible college.

• Bible translation – in 2011, we’d love to have a partnership between churches in the UK and Burkina Faso… so we’re asking churches to send people home one Sunday, do a Bible hunt through the house, gather all the Bibles together, thank God for having the Scriptures, for all those who have made it possible, pray for those who do not have the Scriptures in their own language, and give £1 for every Bible in the house to help translate the Bible for people in Burkina Faso.

• Bible experience – can we provide people with an experience of the Bible which will make people want to read the Bible again? Krish referred here to the Lord of the Rings films which made people go back to the books. One church is taking their church away for a weekend to learn Mark’s gospel by acting it out. Saltmine are touring the country doing a production, From Eden to Eternity, presenting the story of the Bible in an hour. Krish also shared an idea from his own experience in church leadership, getting involved with local schools through leading assemblies on the parables of Jesus, combined with an art project and competition, displaying pieces in the church, and inviting parents to view the art at the church. The third year of running this project saw 1,600 pieces of art by children displayed and 800 parents coming through the church.

The church in the UK is divided in all sorts of ways – ethnically, denominationally, tribally. Biblefresh is an opportunity for one church to be reading one book together.

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