Understanding the “church” in Church-Centric Bible Translation

By November 9, 2021

International (MNN) — To come alongside what God is doing worldwide, you first have to understand it. For example, when you see “church-centric Bible translation,” what comes to mind?

(Photo courtesy of unfoldingWord)

“[Many] people think ‘church’ means ‘my church.’ First Baptist, First Presbyterian, or my little church that meets in the movie theater, or something like that. And that’s not what we’re talking about at all,” David Reeves of unfoldingWord says.

“We’re talking about a global network of churches that look like the first-century context.”

Instead of picturing their church or denomination and its traditions, Western believers must understand how God is moving in the world today.

“I come from the Deep South [in the United States], and the church flavors down there are [distinctive]. I don’t have any way to explain this, except there’s something unique happening,” Reeves says.

“It doesn’t matter where we go, whether it’s Southeast Asia or the Middle East, [we encounter] dreams, visions, signs, and wonders; this is the book of Acts all over again.”

The end goal of church-centric Bible translation is not a Bible in a minority language alone but a thriving, reproducing church. Believers eagerly partner with each other and unfoldingWord to achieve this objective.

“These are strong, healthy churches with a powerful unity movement and Paul-type leaders. It’s not [divided by] ‘I’m this denomination or that denomination’ statements,” Reeves says.

“In our Western contexts, we’re not in a very healthy place; COVID kind of messed up our models. If we used to go up to our mega-church and enjoy our multisite services and all the other stuff, that’s not quite working. And that’s not what it looks like in parts of Asia or the Middle East at all.”

unfoldingWord partners with large-scale church networks around the world. In places like the Middle East or North Africa, these church networks are often underground.

(Photo courtesy of unfoldingWord)

“Behind the scenes, out of view, there’s a lot of stuff happening in terms of church planting among Hindus, Buddhists, and Muslims,” Reeves says.

“We’re talking about hundreds of thousands of churches throughout these networks with leaders who look a lot like the apostle Paul.”

The Body of Christ is growing quickly, and new believers in these church networks need God’s Word in their heart language. As explained here, unfoldingWord gives church networks the tools and training they need to do Bible translation.

Join us tomorrow for Part Two of this story.



Header image depicts the worship service at a United States church. (Photo courtesy of Matt Botsford/Unsplash)

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