“The fight for Biblical literacy in our churches will be won by thousands of small steps on a very long road. But we need first to get on the road” (George Guthrie). This quote sums up the philosophy of the North Yorkshire Dales Biblical Literacy Project -a mouthful, I know, but at least we have stepped out on the journey!
WHO AND WHY
The Project has three sponsors and four aims. The sponsors are the Darlington District of the Methodist Church, the North Yorkshire Dales Methodist Circuit and CODEC at St. John’s College, Durham. The aims are:
- to research levels of biblical literacy in a typical rural area of the country;
- to help Christians engage more with the Bible
- to get the Bible back into our communities where it belongs
- to set up a network of similar projects across the country.
WHAT’S IN IT FOR ME?
I suppose in today’s world the question is : “What’s in the Bible for me?” I wonder how you would answer? One reply could be that it’s a right riveting read - to quote an old advert. What a store of great literature and poetry! Another answer might be that we need to know the Bible to understand our culture - perhaps our celebration of the 400th birthday of the King James Bible has helped to underline that. Another response could be that the Bible has deep insights to offer on being human and living this human life in all its querkiness. For Christians seeking to follow Christ as his disciples, the Bible is surely essential in understanding who Jesus is and what discipleship means.
Yet for me none of these answers will ultimately do! They are all important and have value. But for me there is something more basic and life-giving. Just as the Bible grew out of real experience of God, so today the Bible can lead to real experience of God. That for me is the heart of biblical literacy - to let the Bible be a vehicle for us to find God and for God to find us.
SMALL BUT SIGNIFICANT STEPS
However, one step at a time. If we can encourage folk to pick up the Bible because it (or parts of it!) are a great read and great entertainment, then Hallelujah. If we can point people to passages that help pastorally or morally, then fine - let’s do it.
So in this project we have set out on the road and begun to take a few steps. These include a Bible pilgrimage and Bible exhibition, visting local agricultural shows, sharing a handwritten Bible scheme with schools and churches, a Bible quiz, a number of preaching and study group series on Bible books or themes, a kids club, training days on new methods of Bible study, a Bible art week and an Extreme Bible competition! Yet to come are Beer and Bible evenings, film nights, use of biblical material in book clubs and a Christian theatre weekend, including performance, workshops and maybe street theatre. Further down the road we are planning a Bible Roadshow and a month focussing on praying the Scriptures.
RENEWAL OF THE CHURCH
Taken on their own, none of these may sound especially spectacular or innovative. But the point is that we have begun the journey and taken some steps. And even if there are still thousands more to take, it all contributes to keeping the Bible alive and out there. Culture shifts begin in small ways -and that’s what we need. Who knows - renewed biblical literacy may even lead to renewal in the church and the world! It’s happened before, they tell me. More steps please!
David Wood : Project Co-ordinator
Welcome to the new blog for the North Yorkshire Dales Biblical Literacy Project. Founded in December 2010, because we think the Bible is important and want to share it with others. Sponsored by the Methodist Church and CODEC at St. John’s College, Durham. We are working to help people within and without the church to engage with the Bible and see how rich, relevant, important and fascinating it is.
Good things have already happened and more is planned! Watch this space.
We can be contacted by email at firstname.lastname@example.org or on twitter at @dwcodec.
Look forward to hearing from you.