Translation helpers from 6 language groups came to a workshop here this week. The training focused on a method to involve churches in another part of the translation process. We’ve already experimented with church participation in a translation of Luke, a “crowd-sourced” rough draft. Drafts like this get heavily reviewed and revised but do wonders to promote community ownership and Scripture engagement.

It seems that when you work with translators from different backgrounds and multiple translation agencies, along with outside funders and demanding schedules, the local church gets overlooked.

This time around, we’re sending out the helpers to check their next drafts in the churches, in Bible study. The Bible study method follows common practices in the field: a prepared facilitator asking a fixed set of questions, and encouraging participation and obedience. The method has shortcomings, but it’s appropriate in this situation. This is an effort to test newly translated Scriptures in a way they’re meant to be used. It introduces change with less variables by using an existing method. Scripture testing goes beyond a linguistic check of comprehension to Scripture use and a pursuit of transformation in the community. Brilliant! Call that a win for both Bible translation and church planting.

Over the next month, the translation helpers will start multi-church collaboration teams to see movement of the Scriptures among the churches.