In 1983, in Pasadena, California, I was introduced for the first time to the concept of Orality and Oral Communication of the Scriptures. It was an eye opener for me regarding various methods of learning and communicating the Word of God. Specifically, for me, it was a different way of thinking about sharing the gospel and making disciples. Digital Orality is about combining modern technological resources with the most ancient forms of communicating and learning. Orality-based methods and strategies are the most effective ways people have learned and communicated from the beginning of time. We now know that the principles and concepts of orality are also the most effective ways of changing behavior. (More than 70% of the world’s population are Oral Learners, by necessity or by preference.)
Principles of Orality
Almost everyone uses forms or principles of orality, whether or not they are recognized or identified as such. Experiential education, action learning, guided discovery models, narrative methods, storytelling and many other oral art forms are a part of the orality domain. Not only oral art forms, but also visual, various other performing and relational arts are all learning and communication strategies that have been around for many centuries. The digital domain makes it possible to extend the reach of the gospel in ways that were not possible a few decades ago. We often refer to the tools of the age, and the tools of the ages, that are vital in reaching every person and making disciples among all people groups. Furthermore, as the orality movement has continued to grow and develop, we have discovered additional applications. Some of these are hygiene promotion, public health, and community development. Others include things like agriculture, cooking and nutrition programs, even engineering ministries.
Advancing the Kingdom
Sometimes it is a matter of preference, but with the current global pandemic, it’s necessary to rely more on modern digital technology for communicating and training for advancing the Kingdom. When we think of the unlimited and creative work of the Holy Spirit, we can have confidence that His Kingdom is marching on. We can look forward to the day when the knowledge of the glory of God will cover the earth, as the water covers the sea, according to Habakkuk 2:14.
Multiplication and Reproduction
One of the unique features of Living Water International’s basic introductory Orality Training is using a totally oral approach. In other words, using no print or technology-based resources. The objective is to equip followers of Jesus, with just what is in their heads and hearts, that can be reproduced in the heads and hearts of others. With the added resources of digital technology, there is the possibility of rapid multiplication and reproduction. With digital orality strategies and online training resources, we can equip leaders and disciple makers to reach and disciple those who are without access to print and technology-based resources.
The Unstoppable Power of God
In this crisis time of the global pandemic, the Lord is giving many creative and innovative methods and strategies beyond our traditional ways of doing church and missions. It is a demonstration of the unstoppable power of God. No barrier or border can stop the advance of the Kingdom of God.
With the availability of modern digital technological resources, it is important to remember and integrate the timeless principles of Scripture. Most of the content of God’s Word, the Bible, was communicated in oral cultures before it became a written text. Many of the lessons we are learning from the rapidly reproducing disciple making movements, primarily in the Global South, are appropriate for the West and the Global North.
Opportunities in the Crisis
With all that is going on in the world today, it is important to remind ourselves that God has done His greatest work during the most difficult times and darkest places. We know that where sin abounds, grace does much more abound. Methods and strategies are necessary, but the supernatural provision and intervention of God is what produces lasting and eternal fruit. We must keep our eyes on Him.
Every follower of Jesus can benefit from understanding and using digital orality methods that are readily available to so many of us. From the bush to the boardroom, from phone conversations to conference calls, the gospel can spread as followers of Jesus obey Him. During these crisis times, we may have our greatest opportunities for advancing the Kingdom of God and completing His Great Commission.
Jerry Wiles is President Emeritus of Living Water International and serves on the advisory council and leadership team of the International Orality Network. He can be reached at: [email protected].