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Listening and Learning at The Africa Scripture Engagement Conference 2024

The conference was held in Nairobi, Kenya, from 22 February to 1 March 2024. It brought together 100 participants from 23 countries of Africa. It was an opportunity for Scripture Engagement, Media and Ethnoarts specialists and consultants to get together, to share resources, ideas and strategies and receive training on some of the latest approaches in encouraging engagement with the translated Scriptures.  The conference was bilingual, in English and French.  Four participants formed a ‘Listeners’ team’. Their role was to listen carefully to the key themes coming out of the presentations and discussions, both formally and informally, seeking to hear what the Lord was saying to us. Here is a summary of what they heard…


  1. Scripture engagement begins with us, as people who engage deeply with Scripture and allow God to transform us.
  2. Research-driven and contextualised approach: Good Scripture engagement happens where products and approaches are designed to respond to real needs in a particular context.
  3. Local ownership: Sustainable Scripture engagement is the result of local ownership, which requires building deep foundations with a clear idea of the desired impact.
  4. Embracing creativity: Arts of many kinds, such as proverbs, poetry, music, TikTok, story weaving and drama touch people at a deep, emotional level and open doors to powerful engagement with God.
  5. Digital strategies for Scripture engagement will bring many new opportunities to help people engage with the Scriptures.
  6. Central role of prayer: “Don’t worry about anything; instead, pray about everything. Tell God what you need, and thank him for all he has done.” (Philippians 4:6).


  1. Training: We have a lack of well-trained SE personnel who can lead field activities and who can prepare the next generation of SE specialists and consultants through mentoring and capacity building.
  2. Local Ownership: In many churches and communities there is a lack of local ownership for SE. Sometimes this is due to a lack of vision for mother tongue Scripture engagement by local pastors. This is especially true (and complex) in multilingual urban communities.
  3. Funding: SE is significantly less well-funded than Bible translation, yet the two ministries should not be separated if we are to see translations being used.
  4. Artificial Intelligence: AI is both an opportunity and a huge challenge for Scripture engagement. We need discernment to make wise use of AI without becoming lazy in our engagement with God’s Word.
  5. Insecurity: The security situation in many countries makes SE work, training and monitoring difficult.


  1. Use oral approaches: Oral Bible storying is a powerful tool for beginning effective SE, encouraging local participation and ownership. Other media approaches also work well, including listening groups, video, trauma healing, music and participatory radio. 
  2. Seek sustainable funding: We need to find creative solutions for funding SE in a sustainable way. This may involve finding new partners, integrating SE into local church programmes, trying new ideas and training local partners to research their own sources of funding.
  3. Continue to develop SE competency-based training: We need to continue to work together to develop SE competence-based training for workers at all levels in our organisations including SE workers, facilitators, specialists and consultants. Everyone should know what they need to do to develop and grow in their roles.
  4. Prioritise young people and their families: Africa is a very young continent and reaching children and youth with Scripture engagement strategies is vital. This will likely involve using more digital strategies, as well as developing contextualised Sunday school materials.
  5. Invest in the church: Take time to build strong relationships with church leaders, so they catch the vision and share it with local congregations. We should not underestimate their influence as key people who can encourage SE.

Prepared by the Africa SE Conference Organising Committee:

Photos by Felise Alaichamy

The organisations represented included ACATBA, ACTB, Bible Societies, BTL, CABTAL, CET/DMTB, CITBA, CRCTBG, DPTLL, DTB, EECMY, ELCT, Faith Comes By Hearing, FOCOTBA, Global Partnerships, GILLBT, LIBTRALO, LIST, Lutheran Bible Translators, SATRAB, Seed Company, SIL, SIM, Storyweavers Global, TISLL, The Word For The World, Wycliffe Benin, Wycliffe Ethiopia, Wycliffe Netherlands, Wycliffe South Africa and Wycliffe Global Alliance.

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