What priority for Bible translation

If you like my light and funny posts. Sorry, this is not one of them.

Bible translation is a costly and time-consuming endeavor. So, it is a very good thing to ask what priority it should have. Maybe there are other activities that would better advance the Gospel. So, who would know the answer to a question like that? It would have to be someone who knows about all kinds of Christian missions so that they could be compared. There is more than one place we could go to find such a person. The Lausanne Committee for World Evangelism is a pretty good one.  They get comments from Christians around the world.

A guy working with them, Paul  Eshleman, wrote an Advance Paper for their 2010 worldwide meeting. He looked at the parts of the world that are unreached (unevangelized) and the most common kinds of mission: evangelism, discipleship, church planting, compassion ministries (such as for droughts, earthquakes, etc.), and so on. He came up with the top ten missions activities needed to evangelize the world. Here they are.

1. Scripture translation, distribution and use
2. Engaging unreached people groups
3. Evangelism
4. Reaching oral learners
5. Church planting and presence
6. Prayer and unity
7. Compassionate ministry
8. Confession and repentance
9. Mobilization of people and resources
10. Research, mapping and reporting

Do not mistake the opinion of this expert for God’s leading. God will call some people to give to or serve in the lowest priority items on this list, or in ministries that are not on the list. The right way to use this list is to pray over it and ask God what he wants you to do with the information. If you already support Bible translation or another of the ministries in this list, be encouraged!

For those of you who enjoy a bit of analysis, here is a nice graphic from the paper showing how various kinds of ministry fit together:

You can read Mr. Eshleman’s Advance Paper at:


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Lausanne Movement

Big international meetings might not be your idea of exciting. They weren’t mine either until I saw some create effective focus and action at the grassroots. One of the most effective has been the “Lausanne” congresses and the movement they have created.  The first was held in 1974 in – you guessed it – Lausanne.  The last major meeting was in 1989. The most recent took place in October in South Africa.

It was the largest and most diverse meeting of believers in the last 20 years. It’s composition reflected the number of believers in each country and other demographic characteristics of the church. So, of the 4,000 delegates, 400 came from the US, 50 from Canada, 80 from the UK, but 230 from China (although many of those were blocked from attending by the Chinese government). Sixty percent were under 50 years old and 10 percent under 30. In stark contrast, at the 1910 Edinburgh World Missionary Conference of the 1,200 delegates, 500 came from US, 500 from Britain, 4 from Asia, and none from Africa. Welcome to the 21st century. Isn’t it great?

The topic, as always, was world evangelism and the uniqueness of Christ, the authority of the Bible, and the imperative of world evangelism. All got ringing affirmations.

The web site for this latest meeting has videos of many of the main sessions. As someone involved in Bible translation I was pleased to see the themes of Celebrating the Bible and Eradicating Bible Poverty woven throughout. The Scriptures were presented as foundational to the accomplishment of the Great Commission. (That link leads to articles and videos on the topic.)

You might be interested in the topic “Bringing the Gospel to the Least Reached People Groups and Cities.” You can find it here:

If you are interested in more devotional thoughts, consider watching some of the morning devotions by John Piper at:


Dayle and I are involved in helping the growing and maturing believers in Africa do Bible translation for themselves. Beyond the specific topics, this meeting was proof that God is growing his kingdom and that many people around the world are still blessedly obsessive about making Jesus known. That is exciting. Those who predicted the death of Christian faith were oh so wrong.

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