Bibleless Peoples Presentation

Here is the outline of a “Bibleless Peoples” talk I gave to a group of national church planters. Many of these leaders work among or near people who do not have God's word in a language that they understand. They were able to identify some of the Bibleless people groups on our list. They also got riled up when I asked what languages they should work in. Some were in favor of using national or state languages, for the sake of unity; some for tribal languages, for the sake of understanding.

  1. (Theology) What is the “seed” that we sow?

    • The seed is God’s word, the gospel of Jesus Christ: “The sower sows the word…” (Mk. 4:14)
    • Seed has all the potential for life, growth and multiplication
    • Look at “movement” in Acts
      • Movement is described as the growth of God’s word
      • Acts 6:7, 12:24, 13:49, 19:20, 28:31
    • What can a sower do without seed?
      • Many people and places have no “seed” available
      • The Bibleless are those without God’s word in a language that they understand
      • Who do you know without God’s word?
  2. (Linguistics) A look at languages

    • People use different languages for different places and purposes (multilingualism)
    • What languages do you use for home, market, school, church, news?
    • Each language is strong in it’s area (domain)
    • The gospel can move in any language, but which language is priority for the “sower”?
      • The language of homes (oikos), houses of peace, where churches are planted
      • It’s better seen as “home language” (mother-tongue), not “heart language”
      • Look for living (vital) languages, spoken between parents and children
  3. (Strategy) How to work among the Bibleless

    • Train in homes (if religious and home languages differ)
    • Houses of peace may speak local and trade languages well
    • Make small groups by language
    • Trade languages (languages of wider communication) may be enough for God’s word to grow
    • Test for understanding
      • Ask questions after teaching
      • Have people retell it in their own words
      • Does it spread between trainings?
      • Do they share at home in their language?
    • Use Bible stories, songs, pictures and dramas
      • Stories translate well
      • Stories give meaning to new words and phrases
    • Honor people who sing, pray and practice the gospel and testimony in their own language
    • Learn and speak the language, as it is the best way to encourage the spread of God’s word
    • Some groups will need the Bible translated
    • Make disciples according to the Scriptures
      • Do you give authority to God’s word in your own life and ministry?
      • Do you train from the Bible?
      • How does your own strategy compare with the Apostles’s teaching?
      • Do you aim for people to have faith in the gospel (not just obedience)?
      • When you leave a field, do you leave God’s word in the hearts of the people?
    • Our work isn’t done until there is a church that is growing in God’s word in a language that they understand (Acts 20:32, 2 Peter 1:15)
  4. Who are the Bibleless?

    • There are churchless and Bibleless groups hiding around us
    • Look at the list
      • These are the groups without any Scripture resources (not just a Bible translation)
      • Have you seen any? Is this language spoken at home?
      • Do you know any bilingual believers or churches among them?
      • Do you have churches near to any of these groups?
      • Inform your churches
      • Tell us if a group needs Scripture resources
    • The churchless and Bibleless will be hopeless until someone from outside (us) goes in with the “seed” of God’s word
    • Be sure to plant God’s word in hearts and homes because it will grow and multiply


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