Posted by: timjdavy | July 19, 2016

Free training guide for Bible Listening Groups

Over at the Scripture Engagement website Richard Margetts has posted a free training guide for leaders and promoters of Bible listening groups. Here’s a little bit of blurb and a link to the post. It would be fascinating to consider how this practice could be used in a UK setting. Have you seen this done?

An interactive workshop for training listening group leaders and promoters
Author: Richard Margetts

The training workshop described in this guide was developed in West Africa and includes input received from around the world. It is for listening group leaders (those who lead/facilitate the groups) and for group promoters (those who visit groups to encourage them and mentor the facilitators).

A listening group is an opportunity for people to get together to listen to a passage from the Bible and talk about it together. In this guide, you’ll find elements which focus on the ‘why’ of listening groups as well as the practical details of ‘how’ to lead a group.


Posted by: timjdavy | May 13, 2016

Games as Scripture Engagement

t-shirtThis is a guest post by Peter Brassington on a fascinating and innovative area of Scripture Engagement: Games. Here he explores some ideas about games, game elements, and God.

headshotAlthough Redcliffe has an excellent library, I couldn’t find a copy of Moltmann’s “Theology of Play” when I visited for the first time at the start of my MA. I wasn’t in the library at the time but looking through the library catalog online from my room. Things have changed since I last studied theology.moltmann

Looking out of my window however I did spot something pertinent to my search – a collection of students, serious in their desire to serve God and to bring hope to a suffering world were on the lawn throwing a frisby around. Later at dinner some of the professors that I was keen to talk to about my various interests in missiology, socio-linguistics, and digital language vitality, were having a conversation about rugby.

Clearly ‘play’ has its place in the lives of serious theologians and missionaries, as it does in the lives of everyone else. But when was the last time you heard a lecture on the “theology of play” or a sermon about what games Jesus would play? If you are involved in children’s ministry or youth work then games and fun activities are probably a key part of your toolkit. But how much are they a standard part of the wider thinking of mission agencies and how much are they a part of the mission of God?

Complete the proverb:

“All work and no play…”

  1. “ …make jack a dull boy”
  2. “…demonstrates that Jack has a firm grasp of the protestant work ethic”

Play serves many functions in society not simply as a tool to bring about education and behavioral reinforcement, but as a natural way of exploring new ideas, developing skills and habits, and of relaxing and socializing.

Eminent theologians, sociologists, educationalists, psychologists, therapists, and marketing experts have written on various issues around what kinds of games are beneficial, how much screen time and out-door play should be allowed or encouraged.

Other missionaries and evangelists seem to have instinctively known that people of all ages like to play.

Agencies like Wycliffe have used games as part of their recruitment and training for decades. The Wycliffe Game was quietly consigned to the archives a few years before I joined, as being a little out of date. But many of the activities in their Idea Bank are still being used (with occasional updates) 30 years after they were first written.

MissioMaze ( is the latest incarnation of one simulation idea now planeavailable as an iphone app, in which the expectations on a Western missionary of a sending church are compared to the demands of life ‘on the field’.

Meanwhile phone apps are increasingly being used as tools for evangelism and discipleship, not because people waste time on games and so we must hook them with game-like tracts, but because people play games and games have value.

In some contexts ‘Christian games’ are used to mean ‘safe’, ‘family friendly’ games that wouldn’t offend anyone. I believe games can have a harder edge and tackle serious social and spiritual issues.

morabaOne good example of games being put to serious use is UN backed whose game Moraba has been used to address gender based violence in South Africa. Read and hear about it at and then play it for yourself How might you do something to address these or similar issues in your own context ?


Gamification is a relatively new term that has become a multi-billion dollar industry. It’s basically the idea of using game elements igotandemn non-game environments. For game elements think points, badges, leaderboards, onboarding, leveling up, boss-fights, or simply the theme tune of a TV quiz show.

For non-game environments think, work, exercise, dieting, housework, or Bible study. A couple of years ago the YouVersion ( Bible app started awarding virtual badges to people for finishing a study series. The Go-Tandem site and app ( ) is designed to help you in your spiritual development with a series of nudges and game like elements used to track your progress.

yellow chartEcube outlinethnomusicology emerged as a valid field of missionary activity as missionaries began to recognize that not only did different cultures have different ideas about music but that God might also have quite a wide taste and appreciate these different expressions. As I began to learn about the emerging field of gamification and wonder to what extent it would find its place in cross cultural mission I wondered if a new field of ethnogamification might emerge, as expat and local missionaries began to explore local games and game elements as ways of connecting and engaging people.

Google for Ethnogamification and you’ll see it hasn’t caught on widely yet but you will find everything I’ve written on the subject.

I have lectured a couple of times at Redcliffe on the possibilities of games and gamification and had the opportunity recently to lead a training track on “Designing Games for Scripture Engagement” at a major conference in Asia. (it was a small track but it will get bigger)

The main presentation isn’t written as a game but it’s playful, and you can explore and search for hidden surprises as well as the big picture messages. It includes links to some of the existing Christian games, a group of Christian Game Developers, and tools that you could use to build your own games.

Click to play?

Peter is a student on Redcliffe’s MA in Contemporary Missiology (Scripture Engagement). He blogs on Digital Engagement (and a bit on games) at digital2031

Want to take this further? Come and study more about Bible and Mission on Redcliffe’s Summer school mode Contemporary Missiology MA, including the module ‘Reading the Bible Missionally’ running this July.


Posted by: timjdavy | May 9, 2016

Finding our true identity in God’s mission

Why Are We Here?Who are we as Church and why do we exist?

Here’s what David Bosch has to say in his closing remarks on a chapter on Matthew’s Gospel.

‘The disciples are called to proclaim Jesus’ ultimate victory over the power of evil, to witness to his abiding presence, and to lead the world toward the recognition of the love of God. In Matthew’s view, Christians find their true identity when they are involved in mission, in communicating to others a new way of life, a new interpretation of reality and of God, and in committing themselves to the liberation and salvation of others. A missionary community is one that understands itself as being both different from and committed to its environment; it exists within its context in a way which is both winsome and challenging (cf Frankemölle 1982:99, 127f). In the midst of confusion and uncertainty, Matthew’s community is driven back to its roots, to the persons and experiences which gave birth to it, so that it can rediscover and reclaim those persons and events, come to a more appropriate self-understanding, and on the basis of this discern the nature of its existence and calling (cf LaVerdiere and Thompson 1976:594).’

It is now 25 years since the publication of Transforming Mission. To mark the occasion this year’s Global Connections Mission Educators Forum (16-17 June) is on the theme of ‘Beyond Bosch’. Along with Kirsteen Kim and John Corrie, I will be speaking at the event. My session is entitled, ‘The Bible and Mission Beyond Bosch’.

Want to take this further? Come and study more about Bible and Mission with me on Redcliffe’s Summer school mode Contemporary Missiology MA, including the module ‘Reading the Bible Missionally’ running this July.

[image from]


IMG_0460I came across this wonderful quote recently and was struck by how much it mirrors contemporary writing on missional hermeneutics. It can be found in V.F. Storr’s brilliantly titled, The Missionary Genius of the Bible (London: Hodder & Stoughton). Writing in the aftermath of the Great War and in the midst of significant changes across the globe and within biblical scholarship, Storr sensed that a new and more profound examination of mission in the light of the Bible was required.

He penned these words in 1924 but they would be right at home within the growing body of literature on a missional reading of Scripture.

A great cause needs a great backing; and to match the growing sense of the largeness of missionary enterprise must be an enlargement of the appeal which we make to the Bible. It is, for instance, not enough to quote from Scripture a series of proof-texts in support of missions. The proof-text suspended in mid-air is useless. It must be related to its context. It must be shown to stand out from a background which is essentially missionary in colour. We must, in a word, see the revelation in the Bible in its large, bold outlines, in the big sweep of its movement, in its progressive character and unfolding purpose. We have to learn a new method of using the Bible as a missionary book.

Want to take this further? Come and study more about Bible and Mission with me on Redcliffe’s Summer school mode Contemporary Missiology MA, including the module ‘Reading the Bible Missionally’ running this July.


Next month I’ll be leading an evening seminar for local churches that aims to connect insights from the developing missional hermeneutics discussion with local congregations and communities. Here are the details:

Making it Missional

a fresh approach to preaching, reading and studying the Bible

Wednesday 20 April 2016, 7:30-9:30pm   |   Redcliffe College, College Green, Gloucester, GL1 2LX
£5 including refreshments

In recent years, a revolution has been taking place in the way the Church grasps the missional nature of Scripture. Come and explore with Dr Tim Davy what this could mean for our local congregations and communities. Tim has taught Bible and Mission at Redcliffe for a number of years. His PhD focused on the missional interpretation of the Bible and he leads the Bible and Mission stream of Redcliffe’s MA in Contemporary Missiology. Tim’s module, Reading the Bible Missionally will run during this July’s MA Summer School.

Reserve your place now

Want to take this further? Come and study more about Bible and Mission with me on Redcliffe’s Summer school mode Contemporary Missiology MA, including the module ‘Reading the Bible Missionally’ running this July.
Posted by: timjdavy | March 17, 2016

Genesis 3-11 and the Bible’s relevance for all

PrintI’m enjoying reading Brian Russell’s (re)Aligning with God: Reading Scripture for Church and World. In this excerpt from the chapter, ‘The OT Story: Creation, Fall, and Israel’, he reflects on the ‘international framework’ of Gen. 3-11:

‘These stories remain in the same international framework of Genesis 1-2. The narratives of Gen. 3-11 are descriptive of the global human condition. There is still no Israel. We will find a few faithful followers of God, but we have not yet reached the moment when God will call a new humanity into his service to begin the narrative thread that will culminate with the life, death, and resurrection of Jesus and the unleashing of the Church through the power of the Holy Spirit. It is vital to recognize this international context. The Bible is the story for all humanity. The Bible will soon narrow its focus for a time on the descendants of Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob as the human lineage through whom Jesus Christ will emerge, but the first eleven chapters of Genesis set the backdrop for the biblical story as a whole and assume its relevance for every people, language, and nation.’

Want to take this further? Come and study more about Bible and Mission with me on Redcliffe’s Summer school mode Contemporary Missiology MA, including the module ‘Reading the Bible Missionally’ running this July.


‘Mission is what the Bible is all about’, declares Chris Wright in his The Mission of God: Unlocking the Grand Narrative of the Bible (Nottingham: Inter-Varsity Press, 2006, p.29). While he goes on throughout the book to nuance what he means by this bold statement, it reflects something BIG about the relationship between the Bible and God’s mission: that the unified and unifying story of Scripture is the story of God’s mission. It is a ‘big picture’ claim, which echoes a lot of writing on missional hermeneutics over the last ten to twenty years.

Yet, while we celebrate the way in which the Bible’s big picture tells us about God’s mission, let’s not forget that God’s heart for mission can be seen in the tiny details of Scripture as well. Later in the same book Wright has this to say about some of the seemingly incidental editorial seams in the Gospels, like Mark 3:7-8:

‘Jesus withdrew with his disciples to the sea, and a great crowd followed, from Galilee and Judea and Jerusalem and Idumea and from beyond the Jordan and from around Tyre and Sidon. When the great crowd heard all that he was doing, they came to him.’ (ESV)

Here’s what Wright makes of the significance of these little details:

The editorial summaries of the international extent of Jesus’ influence. Though we might be tempted to dismiss these short notes by the Gospel writers as merely local colour, it is more likely that they are intentional signals of the wider impact of Jesus. His ministry was not actually confined to the borders of Israel, even if that was what he primarily wanted. For his fame to spread far and wide, and representatives of the nations came to know and to benefit from his ministry. These notes are found in Matthew 4:24-25, Mark 3:7-8 and Luke 6:17-18. The geographical spread of the the regions is substantial.’ (p.513)

God’s mission is in the very DNA of the Bible. Hold on to the big picture but remember to notice and appreciate mission in the tiny details as well!

Want to take this further? Come and study more about Bible and Mission with me on Redcliffe’s Summer school mode Contemporary Missiology MA, including the module ‘Reading the Bible Missionally’ running this July.

[picture creative commons –]
Screen Shot 2016-03-10 at 10.51.19Over at the Scripture Engagement website Michelle Peterson gives a summary and links for her article Avoiding Visual Miscommunication: Choosing Illustrations for Translated Scripture. I’ve put the description and link below.
The issue has been raised before by a colleague of mine, Johannes Merz, who describes the ‘visual predicament’ of the Jesus Film (see his article, ‘Translation and the Visual Predicament of the “JESUS” Film in West Africa’, in Missiology, 2010, no. 2 pp.111-126 – you’ll need a subscription to read it). His main point is that we need to give more thought to how visual images can be misunderstood and, therefore, we need to do more to overcome those things.
Although Merz and Peterson’s work is focused on non-Western projects, these are questions everyone needs to be wrestling with. Think about how often we use images to illustrate Bible talks; think about how we use images to present something from the Bible on Facebook. What assumptions are we making about how the image will be interpreted, or how the visual context shapes the verse it accompanies. We had great fun chewing over this issue in a Scripture Engagement class last term here at Redcliffe, and there’s a whole lot more to explore.
Here’s the description and a link for Peterson’s article:

Illustrations often serve motivational functions for readers, especially reluctant readers, increasing their enjoyment of a text and the amount of time they give it. Various audiences require different kinds of Scripture visuals to care about the message and understand it well. Just as translators need to carefully check the words of Scripture, it is important that they also check Scripture illustrations with members of the intended audience, and if needed, change their choices based on this interview feedback. This paper encourages translation teams to check visual elements of Scripture with members of the intended audience, and helps prepare consultants to check illustrations based on local visual vocabulary, grammar and rhetoric.

This is an edited version of a paper presented at the Bible Translation Conference in October 2015, Dallas, Texas.

You can read the article by following this link: Avoiding Visual Miscommunication

You can study Bible and Mission on Redcliffe’s MA in Contemporary Missiology part-time using Summer School intensives. Click here for more details: MA in Contemporary Missiology

PrintI’m looking forward to reading Brian Russell’s new book on a missional reading of Scripture, (re)Aligning with God: Reading Scripture for Church and World, which has just been published by Cascade / Wipf and Stock. Brian blogs over at and has been teaching and writing on the topic for a number of years. Definitely one to get hold of!

Here’s the publisher blurb and contents:

How do we communicate the message of the Scriptures in our twenty-first-century, post-Christian context? (re)Aligning with God: Reading Scripture for Church and World answers this question by presenting the Scriptures through the lens of mission and by teaching a method for reading Scripture with a missional hermeneutic. The biblical story seeks to convert us to its perspective and to transform its readers and hearers into God’s missional community that exists to reflect and embody God’s character to/for/in the world. Ready to revolutionize your reading of the Bible and expand your ability to unleash the Scriptures in your context? (re)Aligning with God will give you rich content and practical tools to become a profound, inspiring, and confident reader of the Bible for all who are seeking to hear its good news.

Endorsements & Reviews

“This book . . . makes a well-argued case for reading Scripture through a missional lens and gives practical guidelines for how to do this. If this were all the book did, it would be well worth a read; but it goes a step further. It calls us to action . . . [T]his isn’t the most comfortable book you will ever read on the subject of hermeneutics, but it is one of the most challenging.” –Eddie Arthur, missionary blogger and writer; director of strategic initiatives for Global Connections

“What would happen if the church read its Scriptures for the sake of God’s mission in the world? What would this look like? And how might we shape communities of Christ followers for whom these questions are central? Here’s the long-awaited manual for those of us who are interested in missional hermeneutics. Russell shows the way. Take and read.” –Joel B. Green, Dean of the School of Theology and Professor of New Testament Interpretation, Fuller Theological Seminary



  1. Scripture and Conversion

PART ONE: (re)Engaging God’s Story

  1. The Old Testament Story: Creation, Fall, and Israel
  2. The Old Testament Story: Israel’s Life in the Land, Prophets and Writings
  3. The New Testament Story: Jesus the Messiah, the Mission of the Church, New Creation

PART TWO: Learning to Speak Human: Reading the Bible for All People

  1. Learning to Speak Human: Methodology and Missional Hermeneutics
  2. Reading the Old and New Testament Missionally: Jonah and Philippians

PART THREE: Aligning Our Communities

  1. Unleashing the Biblical Narrative: Implementing a Missional Hermeneutic in Our Communities of Faith
Posted by: timjdavy | September 4, 2015

Love the sojourner, therefore, for you were sojourners

What is the Church’s voice to be in the midst of the current refugee crisis and on what basis does the Bible call us to account for our actions and attitudes? I want to bring out two main points from this passage in Deuteronomy that might guide our thinking and actions.

12 “And now, Israel, what does the LORD your God require of you, but to fear the LORD your God, to walk in all his ways, to love him, to serve the LORD your God with all your heart and with all your soul, 13 and to keep the commandments and statutes of the LORD, which I am commanding you today for your good? 14 Behold, to the LORD your God belong heaven and the heaven of heavens, the earth with all that is in it. 15 Yet the LORD set his heart in love on your fathers and chose their offspring after them, you above all peoples, as you are this day. 16 Circumcise therefore the foreskin of your heart, and be no longer stubborn. 17 For the LORD your God is God of gods and Lord of lords, the great, the mighty, and the awesome God, who is not partial and takes no bribe. 18 He executes justice for the fatherless and the widow, and loves the sojourner, giving him food and clothing. 19 Love the sojourner, therefore, for you were sojourners in the land of Egypt. 20 You shall fear the LORD your God. You shall serve him and hold fast to him, and by his name you shall swear. 21 He is your praise. He is your God, who has done for you these great and terrifying things that your eyes have seen. 22 Your fathers went down to Egypt seventy persons, and now the LORD your God has made you as numerous as the stars of heaven. (Deut. 10:12-22, ESV)

Our ethics arise out of who God is

Deuteronomy is a kind of constitution for the newly forming nation of Israel as they stand on the brink of entering the promised land. What kind of nation are they going to be? What shape will their national life take as God’s priestly people displaying life with God to the watching nations?

Israel’s ethical life was defined by God’s character and values. How were they supposed to live? In a way that reflected who God is: they were to ‘walk in the ways of the Lord’, a phrase the OT often uses for one’s ethical life.

Note the central section of the passage: God’s greatness is put alongside the protection of the weakest. He loves the sojourner/alien, a category of people who from outside of Israel (for a whole variety of reasons, including war and famine) and now settled-but-vulnerable in Israel.

The Bible does give us specific instructions and commandments but ultimately it tells us who God is and places us within the story of his purposes. We are supposed to understand and celebrate who God is and act accordingly. God loves the sojourner. Let’s contextualise this: God loves the refugee, giving him food and clothing.

Our ethics are also motivated by memory and identity

If that wasn’t enough to call Israel to action God gives them a lesson from their history (and bear in mind, most of those listening to Moses at this point had did not have their own individual memory of the events he evokes). Israel had never been a nation before, but they had been refugees. They had experienced hospitality and hostility. Towards the end of Genesis we read that their forefathers had moved to Egypt because of famine. They knew what it was to be welcomed. However, they also knew what it was liked to be oppressed in a foreign land, which we read about at the beginning of Exodus.

Israel was supposed to draw on their memory as people who had been refugees and apply that part of their identity to their dealings with refugees in their midst in the future.

This, I think, is important for us Brits to consider. Has our sense of being an island nation made it seem like the refugee problem is ‘over there’ and, therefore, not our responsibility? Providing hospitality to more refugees will involve sacrifice: are we hesitant to incur this cost because we do not feel ‘sojourner’ is part of our national memory. Is this why we need to be shocked into action?

But ‘refugee’ is an essential part of our DNA as the people of God. Progressing through the biblical story we read numerous examples of the people of God being displaced and on the move, whether it is moving to or from Egypt, Exile and Return, or the dispersion of the early Church. Comfort and stability is not the norm. What are we as the Church prepared to do to live out the heart of God and our own displaced identity?

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