Project: Consultations on the Church and Bible Translation

Project Name: Consultations on the Church and Bible Translation

Implementing Organization: Wycliffe Global Alliance

Contacts: Bryan Harmelink, Alliance Director for Collaboration / Matthew Bore, Alliance Project Funding Manager

Start date: to be scheduled

End date: to be scheduled

Church leaders from the Sengwer community in Kenya pray while receiving the first translated Scripture portion in their language. Photo: Daisy Kilel

Summary

Leaders in the Wycliffe Global Alliance have increasingly recognized the need for greater collaboration and partnership with churches in global Bible translation movements. The proposed Consultations on the Church and Bible Translation will create space for discussion, in order to deepen missiological and biblical-theological understandings of Bible translation. This could be the catalyst for greater collaboration in designing and implementing sustainable church- and community-based translation programs. It provides an opportunity as well to review and refine at least two of the participation streams: Church and Bible Translation Programmes.

Background 

The evangelical zeal in the era of Wycliffe’s formation positioned Christians to see themselves as responsible for bringing the Great Commission to completion, or at least doing their part to accelerate the mission mandate. Thus, in the second half of the 20th century, as more and more Wycliffe organizations were started in countries around the world, their members and leaders carried with them some of this source DNA. This manifested itself as concentrating more on the efforts of the actual translation task in the field, and less on partnerships with churches.

More recent developments early in the 21st century saw leadership in the Wycliffe Global Alliance recognize the need for greater collaboration and partnership between churches and Bible translation movements. This is evidenced in the mission of Wycliffe Global Alliance that states: “In communion with God and within the community of his church, the Wycliffe Global Alliance contributes to the holistic transformation of language communities worldwide.” The Alliance also acknowledges in its core values: “the church as central in God’s mission”.

In August 2006, Wycliffe Global Alliance held its first missiological consultation, with the overall purpose of providing a framework for its leaders to identify missiological issues. This was a first step in considering the relationship of the church and the Alliance. The later series of consultations that produced the Statements regarding the relationship of the Alliance and the church was another step. This new initiative will have a specific focus on understanding the implications for the Alliance of increasing direct church involvement in Bible translation. In particular, it will offer an opportunity for the Alliance Leadership Team and Alliance organisations to learn how to clearly articulate appropriate ways to express the collaboration of the church and the Alliance in Bible translation programmes. A deeper appreciation of the church’s own understanding of its role in Bible translation is desired. This is particularly relevant given the increasing number of churches or denominations that are joining the Alliance.

The Problem

Defining the relationship between the Alliance and the church has never been easy. The Alliance itself is made up of different types of organizations and relates in different ways to different components of the church. Some types of relationships between the Alliance and the church that have been recognized include: the Alliance as a global partner of the World Evangelical Alliance, church denominations as Alliance organisations, individuals in Alliance organizations sent by their local churches, local churches directly involved in Bible translation projects, individuals in Alliance Organisations holding clerical roles in local churches and Alliance organisations relating to churches in their own countries and also abroad.

In the broadest sense, the Alliance acknowledges the church as the body of Christ, past, present and future. We also recognize that the church is expressed in local contexts. However, we haven’t been able to describe the Alliance’s relationship with the church and there is a need to find multiple ways of understanding the Alliance’s relationship with the church. It is within the unique relationships of the Alliance with the church, that the Alliance needs to continue to find helpful ways of working out these relationships in local contexts and the need to examine more deeply and purposefully how the Alliance, as it is evolving in the 21st century, can better understand our relationship with and within the church.

Solution

The Alliance has been taking time to make sense of its place in the Bible translation movement through missiological reflections. These structured consultations and ongoing dialogues across the Alliance create space and opportunity for a wide range of people to study issues of importance to the Alliance organizations and to Bible translation movements.

The proposed "Church and Bible Translation" consultations will create space for representatives of the church and the Alliance to together deepen their missiological and biblical-theological understandings of Bible translation, potentially leading to the development of an ecclesiological missiology of Bible translation. This deeper understanding could be the catalyst for greater collaboration in designing and implementing sustainable church- and community-based translation programs. This will not only help the whole Alliance better understand the dynamics of the church and Bible translation, but also help review and refine at least two of the participation streams: Church and Bible Translation Programmes.

The consultations have been planned to take place in three phases namely Design, Discuss and Discern. In the Design phase, three representatives of the Alliance Leadership Team (ALT) and three representatives from each Alliance area will come together to explore the topic and create the discussion processes for the second phase. The Discuss phase will consist of two consultations. The first consultation will invite six participants each from the Americas and Africa and the second will invite the same number of participants from Europe and Asia-Pacific. In the Discern phase, the three representatives of the ALT and one designated representative of each area will meet to process the outcomes of the second phase.

Project goals

This project seeks to achieve the following:

  1. Understand well the dynamics of Bible translation programmes in church contexts.
  2. Discover appropriate ways to describe these translation programmes; are they church-led, church-based, church-initiated, church-centric or other?
  3. Ensure that the churches and denominations that are Alliance organisations are being served well and have a voice within the Alliance.
  4. Assist the whole Alliance to understand the dynamics of these Alliance organisations and collaborate well in our shared vision and purpose.

Project activities

(to be scheduled)

  1. Design: Explore the topic and create the discussion processes for the second (Discuss) phase.
  2. Discuss: Two consultations to discuss the subject of the Church and Bible Translation (Americas and Africa; Europe and Asia-Pacific).
  3. Discern: Process the outcomes of the second phase and draft a statement on the church and Bible translation.

Risks and Alternatives

The potential risks are related to travel visas for selected consultation participants. Based on a review of visa requirements for expected participants, the planning team identified venues in countries where visa requirements are not stringent.

Budget:

Total need (in USD):             96,805

Contributions received:        59,687

Balance needed:                37,118

 

To learn more about this funding opportunity, email info@wycliffe.net.



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