Orality: from mission field to everyday life

By October 18, 2016

International (MNN) — Orality isn’t just for the mission field, and that’s something more people are coming to realize. Living Water International has utilized the orality method to share life-saving information about water hygiene. They’ve also been able to use it to share the life-giving Gospel of Jesus Christ.

(Image courtesy Living Water International)

(Image courtesy of Living Water International)

According to their approach statement in relation to being a Christian Witness: Our concern is for whole people — physical and spiritual. As followers of Jesus, we know that he has the power to transform people, restore relationships, and heal factors that lead to poverty, hunger, and thirst. We work with local churches wherever we find them, identify ways we can be part of what God is already doing, and share the good news about Jesus in simple ways — like telling stories and asking questions.

That’s what orality is — the transfer of information through spoken word. It’s conversational. When we’re speaking about orality and the Gospel, we’re talking about a method that makes Scripture accessible, reproducible, and cross-cultural for people who are oral learners by necessity or preference. It’s getting back to the basics of how the Gospel has been shared since the beginning of the Church.

Jerry Wiles currently serves as a consultant for Living Water, as well as the North America Regional Director for the International Orality Network. Over the last several years, he’s watched more ministries utilize this method. And, interestingly enough, he’s watched application take place outside of the traditional mission field.

He says, “You think about the orality methods and concepts and principles that can help people be more successful in business. Ultimately we think about leadership development, team building, relationships — where is our best source for that?

“And, of course, we know where that is… so it’s a way to connect with felt needs and interests and then bring the conversation to Jesus.”

The International Orality Network (ION) is a collaboration of leaders in orality around the world. This group consists of authorities in missiology, psychology, communication, and more. It turns out that removing a dependency on written word takes quite a bit of research and intentional re-learning.

“When we learn from oral cultures and the way God preserves the integrity of His message in oral cultures before it was written down…the better we can see contemporary strategy,” Wiles says.

photo-1461280360983-bd93eaa5051bION is working on a five-year plan with the ultimate goal of communicating the Gospel in ways people can understand, respond to, and reproduce — all with the goal to make disciples.

They will be holding regional conferences around the United States and provide sub-regional trainings, forums, and consultations. They are excited about how all areas of orality can be used. Wiles says there are even applications within government.

“How do we reach members of the diplomatic community? So, these would like ambassadors, these would be officials in the government…. How do you build relationships and help people understand each other better? Well, it takes conversations.”

Another area orality could be used is in education.

“Orality can be used to address social justice issues, trauma therapy…then in business, and then in education — so, not only theological education and mission training, but also secondary education and special education.”

What’s interesting is the number of people who use orality already, but without conscious effort. Orality training will help those people be more effective and fill in the gaps.

Wiles encourages you to join them on this journey. Sign up for a workshop training today.

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