Orality Global Mapping Project

By David Swarr

The Orality Global Mapping Project was conceived to meet the needs of mission agencies who are building strategies and designing instruction for the world’s oral majority. Despite the excellent research done to identify unreached people groups and languages that do not yet have the Bible there is still missing data, which is the information concerning oral peoples of the world. This information is critical to completion of the Great Commission. Mission agencies need to understand the degree to which their audiences rely on orality.

Funded by a grant from a generous foundation, the Center for Oral Scriptures gathered two think tanks comprised of mission practitioners and researchers. They built a battery of questions for the Orality Index Tool from the best of orality principles and methods to date.

The initial beta testing of the tool began in July 2016 among 50-100 people groups, with tabulation of the results and a revision of the survey to be completed by mid-September. We plan to officially launch the initial 2-year mapping project at the WEA Mission Commission Global Consultation in October, and web-publish results on a continuing basis, linked to the Joshua Project and World Christian Encyclopedia.

The project is a multi-staged process, launched with the 2-day workshop in December, to determine how to assess and measure the degree of orality of any people group. The interdisciplinary group involved included the fields of missiology, anthropology, education, demography of religion, and orality. The main outcome of the workshop was the initial formulation of an instrument for assessing and profiling  specific orality characteristics and the degree of orality for any people.

The second event, being held this April in Richmond, Virginia will focus on testing and refining the instrument with the anticipated outcome of releasing it to organizations for field testing over a period of months. We will then compile the results and findings and present them in international forums of the WEA, Lausanne and others, empowering organizations to utilize the tool in their work among oral peoples and build a global database related to oral learners.

The overall purpose of the research flows from the mission statement of the International Orality Network, ‘influencing the Body of Christ to make disciples of all oral learners”. The research project itself is aimed at building a global data base of oral peoples. Such an information base will have multiple uses: informed and focused prayer, mobilizing for engagement, developing tools to design stronger strategies and encourage unified collaboration for discipling the nations.

 

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