“Jesus loves me this I know for the Bible tells me so. But what does the Bible mean to me?”
I grew up in a Christian home and attended church with my parents. It began as an outing – a time of fun and games with other kids. It became a routine – a weekly affair to learn about the Word.
I did not understand the Bible fully and had no desire to read or abide by it. I believed that Jesus was my Saviour and friend, but His commands felt burdensome. I began making excuses to skip church services altogether.
A poll conducted by the Bible Society’s Next Gen ministry, together with the Methodist TRAC Board of Children’s ministry (BOCM), highlighted some facts that should cause us to reflect on how we engage members as a church and in the Word.
We asked 18 to 36-year-olds from various churches in Singapore – all of whom have been in church since at least eight – to participate in our survey on their faith journeys. Out of the 160 Christians who answered, we learned that 11% do not believe that “the Bible contains all that a person needs to live a meaningful life”, and 24% do not think that “Church is a place where I can find my answers in life”.
The statistics raise concerns because they show that the relevance of the Word is now in question. The process of seeking truth is important for our growth. This truth can only be found in the Bible for “… your word is truth” (Jn 17:17).
It was during a time of struggle a couple of years later that I was led to a community that helped me to encounter God personally. I fell in love with the Word of God and grew in my faith. Now, I’m glad to be part of the Bible Society to help others grow in their faith. Recognising the importance of making the Word credible and relevant in a postmodern society that does not affirm objective truth, the Bible Society uses two key approaches – engagement and advocacy – to make the Word credible and known to all.
New Means of Engagement
To help people have a deeper appreciation of God’s Word, the Bible Society’s Sower Institute runs courses like Hebrew Appreciation and Biblical Hebrew Classes that allow greater understanding of the Bible by going to its roots. But application, not just understanding, of the Word is critical as we strive for transformation, not just information. Financial stewardship and marriage enrichment courses are some of the other platforms by which we help people learn how to live out godly principles daily.
I’ve heard participants share how the fun and practical ways of learning the Bible changed their perspectives about the Word. Personally, mine was transformed when I attended a Bible mission trip to the Philippines. When I placed the very first Bible into the hands of the locals, I saw pure joy and gratitude on their faces that cannot be replaced by a newly-bought iPhone 6S. For the first time, I felt ashamed that I had taken the precious living Word for granted.
Experiences like these help to bring about transformation and are important for spiritual growth. The majority of the same poll respondents (63%) who grew up in church said that it was ‘Personal experience of Jesus’ that helped them stay in the faith. This is why ministries like the International Bible Experiences (IBEx)’s Bible Land Tours and Bible Mission Trips are important, so people from all walks of life can experience Jesus, the living Word.
Advocacy in the Public Square
Learning to advocate the Word in the public square is necessary in a society where people are becoming more aware, vocal and critical of societal issues. ETHOS Institute offers platforms for the public to grapple with issues together. For instance, during the recent Annual Lecture by Bishop Dr Wee Boon Hup on Christian Unity in a Multi-Polar Church, young people stayed behind to ask questions, wanting to understand what church unity really meant. It’s heartening to see young adults like myself attend meetings that advocate biblical values on key topics in society.
Colours of the Bible was also started to creatively advocate God’s Word in the public square. We hold an art exhibition annually to enable the public to view art pieces illustrated in the biblical theme and learn about the Word. I’ve witnessed how people discovered new facts about a biblical story or character after visiting the gallery.
As Christians in today’s society, we are called to be a voice crying in the wilderness, preparing the way of the Lord (Mk 1:3). Let’s appreciate, apply and experience the Word in a deeper way, and advocate God’s truth through our transformed lives!