Inevitably when you start a new church the question comes up: ‘But what version of the Bible will we use?’ Usually I just quote ‘Southpaw’ and say ‘NIV with a ribbon bookmark) … see the youtube clip above.
But seriously, this is an important question. In the end we have decided to go with the NIV. This was largely a recognition of the need to increase the biblical literacy of people and would involve encouraging people to bring their own Bibles to church. Whilst bringing your own Bible to church is nothing new for many congregations around the place, in our context we need to work harder at helping people to be able to read the Bible for themselves. If they use their own Bible at church, we are hoping it will make it easier to check up what was going on at church when they get home. Also, having a common version across the church will make it easier not just in church, but also in small group Bible studies.
However, obviously there are some downsides. Personally, I don’t think that the NIV is the best translation we could use. In terms of dynamic equivalence it is great, but loses a bit in comparison with the more literal translations like the ESV or HCSB. Further, if we have a influx of overseas students, maybe we will move to using the NLT or something similar.
But at this stage we are going for the NIV. One hundred black hard cover copies are on order for those who don’t have or bring their own… $12 each from Bible Society. Great price… thanks for the great discount!
I was about to head out of the office to get my six monthly haircut when someone asked me to go and try a new place that had opened up. I got a sob story about how this lady had been in the country for a month and was worried about getting her business off the ground. So I went… (nothing to do with the $15 price tag!). It was a really interesting time. Kristina had moved to Adelaide from Poland 4 weeks ago with her husband and 3 year old daughter. Her husband was studying English and she was trying to keep them afloat financially by cutting hair. The only problem was … she didn’t speak a word of English! Luckily I have pretty low standards for my haircuts, so we muddled along trying to communicate as best as we could.
But it got me thinking…! What are the obstacles in the North-East for us sharing the gospel with people? If it is hard to explain to a new Australian how to cut my hair, what barriers to I need to overcome to share the gospel with someone in post-Christian Adelaide who has had little if anything to do with Christian things before? Here are my initial top 5:
Obstacle #1: Most people in the North East don’t know any Christians, so are never going to hear unless we raise up local missionaries (Romans 10:14).
Obstacle #2: Most people in the North East have been blinded by the gods of this age, and worship these false idols rather than the living God (idols in the North East = work, family, sport?).
Obstacle #3: Many Christians feel too time-poor about meeting and befriending their neighbours, let alone sharing the gospel with them. Someone said to me the other day, ‘the problem is, I don’t really see the need to make more friends. I have enough as it is’.
Obstacle #4: The Christian ghetto is pretty comfortable. Christians friends, Christian schools, Christian sports clubs…
Obstacle #5: Many Christians do not feel suitably equipped or trained to do the work of an evangelist.
So what is the answer? The apostles Paul’s response to the Christians in Colossae was to keep tell them about Jesus:
We proclaim him, admonishing and teaching everyone with all wisdom, so that we may present everyone perfect in Christ. To this end I labor, struggling with all his energy, which so powerfully works in me.