A Mandatory Paradigm Shift

In his recent paper presented at the 2017 Bible Translation conference, Kyle Davis encourages using locally trained indigenous church leaders instead of primarily depending on expatriate specialists throughout the duration of the translation process.

So, within the target language of a new translation project, how can a team go about finding or preparing these leaders? Let’s hold that question for just a moment.

Within Davis’s presentation, we find a challenging paradigm shift proposed to the Bible translation organizations represented at this conference. That question was stated as follows:

“What if our ‘Steps for Translating’ included the training of indigenous leaders to use the Scriptures in the life of the church?” Yes! Amen.

Unfortunately, many professionally translated New Testaments are presently collecting either dust or mildew in various types of storage bins and barrels all around the world. Why? We believe that the proposal cited above from Kyle’s presentation (raised in the form of a question) could be a very significant part of the answer.

Because of such a low rate of “scripture use” organizations have attempted to attach “scripture impact” strategies to the end of their translation projects and/or have even attempted to combat the problem early on by blending in the ideals of “scripture engagement” throughout.

However, without any systematic training or vision on how to teach, evangelize, and disciple indigenous people, few (if any) of these approaches have birthed a truly indigenous maturing church. I at least have not heard of any so far.

On the contrary, groups such as Ethnos360 who have infused scripture impact methodology (i.e. teaching, evangelizing, discipling) directly into the DNA of the scope and sequence of their overall vision have seen outstandingly dissimilar results.

All around the world, these Bible translation/church-planting teams have been trained to work at Bible translation and church planting as one completely integrated process. Remember the question we didn’t answer from above—let’s turn to that now.

When the needed foundational stories are translated from Creation to Christ and the Scriptures are taught chronologically and systematically, this creates a vacuum for the Gospel—and the WORD of GOD. When indigenous people become converted, teams can’t get the scriptures translated fast enough to keep up with the hunger that’s represented within their people group.

Additionally, having the privilege of working with Mother Tongue Translators who have surrendered their lives to the Lordship of Christ places the entire translation project into a completely different playing field. Davis expounds further on this point by saying:

“The doctrine of the church with its teaching offices and the biblical directives for the Scriptures to be read, preached, prayed, sung and seen (sacraments) in the gatherings, needs greater attention during the translation process. How the Word is to be used in the life of the church must be a focal point in the translation process.”

In conclusion, the methodology and vision embraced by any organization will produce results; ideas have consequences. Since the present success rate of translation use within the majority of translation agencies is at an unthinkably low percentage, the only reasonable conclusion is that we need a paradigm shift, an entire game changer.

If the translations we are involved with are not going to add to the number already collecting dust, this paradigm shift must take place.

--by Joel Martin, Executive Committee Member

  • “Faith comes by hearing, and hearing by the word of God.” Romans 10:17
  • “Repentance and remission of sins should be preached in His name to all nations, beginning at Jerusalem. And you are witness of these things.” Luke 24:47, 48
  • “Go therefore, and make disciples of all nations.” Matthew 28:19
  • “In you all the families of the earth shall be blessed.” Genesis 12:3
  • “That the Gentiles should be fellow heirs, and of the same body, and partakers of His promise in Christ through the Gospel.” Ephesians 3:6
  • “That they all may be one; as You, Father, are in Me, and I in You, that they also may be one in Us; that the world may believe that You sent Me.” John 17:21
  • “Is it not written, ‘My house shall be called a house of prayer for all nations’?” Mark 11:17
  • “Ask of me, and I will give You the nations for Your inheritance.” Psalm 2:8
  • “Behold, a great multitude which no one could number, of all nations, tribes, peoples, and tongues, standing before the throne and before the Lamb, clothed with white robes.” Revelation 7:9
  • “Finally, brethren, pray for us, that the word of the Lord may run swiftly and be glorified.” 2 Thessalonians 3:1
  • “All Scripture is given by inspiration of God, and is profitable for doctrine, for reproof, for correction, for instruction in righteousness.” 2 Timothy 3:16
  • “Your word is a lamp to my feet and a light to my path.” Psalm 119:105
  • “As cold water to a weary soul, so is good news from a far country.” Proverbs 25:25
  • “More to be desired are they than gold, yea, than much fine gold; sweeter also than honey and the honeycomb.” Psalm 19:10
  • “All the ends of the world shall remember and turn to the LORD, and all the families of the nations shall worship before You.” Psalm 22:27
  • “Truly, as I live, all the earth shall be filled with the glory of the LORD.” Numbers 14:21
  • “Declare His glory among the nations, His wonders among all peoples. For the LORD is great and greatly to be praised; He is to be feared above all gods.” Psalm 96:3, 4
  • “For the earth will be filled With the knowledge of the glory of the LORD, as the waters cover the sea.” Habakkuk 2:14
  • “That all the peoples of the earth may know that the Lord is God; there is no other.” 1 Kings 8:60
  • “For from the rising of the sun, even to its going down, My name shall be great among the Gentiles; in every place incense shall be offered to My name, and a pure offering; for My name shall be great among the nations.” Malachi 1:11
  • “All nations whom You have made shall come and worship before You, O Lord, and shall glorify Your name.” Psalm 86:9
  • “For as the earth brings forth its bud, as the garden causes the things that are sown in it to spring forth, so the Lord GOD will cause righteousness and praise to spring forth before all the nations.” Isaiah 61:11
  • "Be still, and know that I am God; I will be exalted among the nations, I will be exalted in the earth!" Psalm 46:10
  • "This is good and acceptable in the sight of God our Savior, who desires all men to be saved and to come to the knowledge of the truth." 1 Timothy 2:3, 4
  • "You are worthy. . .; for You were slain, and have redeemed us to God by Your blood out of every tribe and tongue and people and nation, and have made us kings and priests to our God." Revelation 5:9, 10