What are the most effective strategies for cultivating biblical fluency in a congregation, especially when beginning from a position of relative neglect?
Biblical fluency here means more than merely knowing what the Bible says (biblical literacy). Biblical fluency is the capacity for individuals and communities to "speak the language of the Bible in everyday life" -- to make connections between what the Bible says and the everyday realities of life.
With this question in mind, the project gathered a complementary mix of 11 mainline congregations with deep passions for forming vibrant cultures of biblical engagement. Specifically, these congregations:
- believe that engaging the Bible is central to the life of faith;
- listen deeply to the reasons many people have avoided engagement with the Bible;
- display creativity and openness to experimentation;
- integrate engagement with the Bible throughout the life of the congregation;
- equip people to read and study the Bible on their own.
Together, they have reviewed background readings on the topic, developed and conducted shared surveys and interviews in their contexts, interpreted the findings, identified their chief biblical fluency challenges and imagined programmatic experiments to constructively engage them.
Phase 1: identify a complementary mix of eleven mainline congregations with deep and long-standing commitments to the cultivation of biblical fluency
Phase 2: engage in shared background readings on the topic while developing and conducting a congregational survey and interviews
Phase 3: interpret results of survey and interviews, identify strategic biblical fluency challenges, and imagine programmatic experiments to constructively engage them (June – October 2011)
Phase 4: learning partners conduct programmatic experiments and Luther Seminary teams make congregational visits to observe them in context (November 2011 – June 2012)
Phase 5: through various media, research teams summarize stories and strategies related to the exemplary cultivation and practice of biblical fluency in mainline congregations