Do We Really Need Another Bible Translation? Yes

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A Bible Beyond the Page

Modernizing language will only go so far when it comes to engaging the next generation with the Bible, however, just as maintaining the spirit of the beloved KJV will only go so far for Baby Boomers. Both groups delve into the Bible for a deeper reason than just to process words; they want their lives shaped by God's eternal truth, as expressed through His Living Word. In addition, both want a faith that extends beyond the page and impacts the numerous social justice issues confronting today's believers.

Amid this desire, churches and ministries are shifting their approach to reach those who want to see an "active Word" that relates to their everyday lives with more than just a "Thou shall" or "Thou shall not" list. OneHope, a global ministry that to date has reached more than 1 billion children and youth with the gospel, is among those leading the way in stirring greater Bible engagement among U.S. millennials. Because of this, OneHope is partnering with Charisma Media to further the MEV's impact.

"This year at OneHope, we'll reach nearly a hundred million children with God's Word," says OneHope President Rob Hoskins. "But it's not just about the distribution of God's Word—it's about Scripture engagement. That's why we are thrilled with the Modern English Version. Not only is it incredibly simple for young people to understand, but it is also very credible with churches we are working with in the U.S. and around the world. We can't wait to see how God uses our partnership with the MEV to reach literally hundreds of thousands of children."

Other organizations have the same posture of expectation. Rodriguez's National Hispanic Christian Leadership Conference (NHCLC) is also partnering with the MEV and has made Bible engagement its number one initiative for member churches, in part because of the alarming disconnect among younger Hispanics who, unlike their non-Latino millennial counterparts, view the Bible favorably yet have even less interest in reading it. Overall, an astounding 87 percent of Hispanics own a Bible, yet a mere 8 percent engage with it, according to another study commissioned by Barna, ABS, NHCLC and OneHope.

"Today's complacency is tomorrow's captivity," Rodriguez warns, adding that Hispanics, like the millennial generation, are reaping the "inactive faith" of previous generations, particularly when it comes to Bible engagement. "The multigenerational dependency on pastors and leaders to read and deliver that Word created today's unfortunate reality of a generation with a sense of 'biblical entitlement.' In other words, because we depend so much on our pastoral leadership, the layperson does not engage the Word daily as prescribed by God. ... We can't defend life, elevate biblical marriage, fulfill the great commission, educate, end sex trafficking, protect religious liberty or successfully equip the next generation if we stand captive by biblical illiteracy."

To break free of this pattern, partners of the MEV are making concerted efforts to ensure the new translation meets potential readers right where they are. For millennials, that means the digital arena. While studies such as Barna's point out that most millennials don't feel they can get real-life answers from the church, their efforts to find these answers through technology, pop culture and their peers prove there is still an open door for many ministries willing to pioneer and develop new ways to engage those millennials on digital turf.

"Many millennials are skeptical of God's Word because they are not engaging with God's Word," Hoskins says. "By creating digital formats for youth to engage with God's Word [so they can] really experience it for themselves in a format they are used to engaging in on a regular basis, our hope is that they would see and experience its truth in a way like never before."

Hoskins' OneHope has already partnered with other churches and ministries to develop digital ministry tools such as The Bible App for Kids, developed with YouVersion, which drew more than 1 million downloads less than a week after its release last Thanksgiving. YouVersion itself is the leading online resource for stirring Bible engagement with believers and unbelievers alike. To date, the free digital Bible app has been installed more than 150 million times on smartphones and tablets, putting it up there with the likes of Facebook, Instagram and Twitter.

"The engagement and interaction we're seeing is phenomenal," says Bobby Gruenewald, innovation pastor of LifeChurch.tv in Oklahoma, which created YouVersion. "People are embracing the Bible in a new way. We truly believe this generation can become the most Bible-engaged generation in history."

Hoskins agrees, though he says seeing this vision fulfilled begins with equipping millennials with God's Word in a language and format they can understand.

"By putting God's Word into a format millennials prefer, they are more likely to engage with God's Word," he says. "Today's generation of inherently expert and skilled digital natives basically requires that programming for them now be digitally enhanced. You have to speak the language of your audience."

And that is exactly what the MEV is about. The new translation will be available on YouVersion, Bible Gateway and other leading Bible apps, as well as formatted for various digital Bible products and versions. Yet as Charisma Media releases the MEV under its Passio imprint this month, the goal is to make this new translation available in as many formats—digital or traditional print—as possible to as many different audiences.

Loosing the Lion

So can a new translation actually reverse the trends negatively impacting Bible engagement and its influence upon America? The answer to that question may not be seen for another generation. There are still signs of hope amid the current spiritual decay: Barna's 2014 study reveals that three out of five adults wish they read the Bible more, while half of those acknowledge that reading the Bible brings them closer to God.

What about the rest? How will the church reach those for whom the Bible is now a dusty relic symbolizing outdated values? Like a masterpiece hidden in the attic, the riches of the Bible are an unrealized treasure for Bible students, skeptics, millennials and Baby Boomers alike.

No matter what the problem—whether a person's everyday struggles or the plight of a nation in spiritual decline—God's Word is a sufficient cure. As noted 19th-century preacher Charles Spurgeon remarked when asked how he defends the Bible, "The Word of God is like a lion. You don't have to defend a lion. All you have to do is let the lion loose and the lion will defend itself."

With the release of the Modern English Version, let us pray—for the sake of our nation and its future generations—that the relevancy of God's Word will reign triumphantly like a lion over the land.

Watch Michael Brown and a host of Bible scholars evaluate the MEV, plus discover more about its formation at mev.charismamag.com.


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