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The Bible Society Prepares to Publish a New GNB Youth Bible in Collaboration with Youth for Christ

The Bible Society Prepares to Publish a New GNB Youth Bible in Collaboration with Youth for Christ

Bible Society, who now own the publishing rights for the GNB, are publishing a new Good News Youth Bible in partnership with Youth for Christ, which promises to provide for and capture the interest of young people.

Holly Bird spoke to Jack Imbert-Terry from Bible Society and Laura Hancock and Barry Mason from Youth for Christ to better understand the new GNB Youth Bible that is published this autumn.

How did the idea of a new GNB Youth Bible come about?

Jack: Since Bible Society Resources launched a selection of new edition GNBs in the latter part of last year, we have been going through the process of reviewing the product range. One of our earliest observations was that there was a real need for a GNB Youth Bible that was both contemporary in design and relevant for today’s youth culture. 

How did Youth for Christ get involved?

Jack: Bible Society has a long history in Bible production which is acknowledged world-wide. Although we have the technical ability to produce a Youth Bible our expertise did not lie with the understanding of modern youth culture, and to create something appropriate, we approached Youth for Christ to help us discover what young people would actually want from a Bible.

Together how did you go about deciding on the content for a new Youth Bible?

Jack: The decision to work with Youth for Christ was very timely as they had just fi nished an extensive research project called Gen Z. (Generation Z, people born between 1995 and 2012).

Laura: Yes, the project was inspired by a sense amongst youth workers that youth culture had shifted slightly, but there was no data to show what that looked like. The project was based on a survey of 1001 young people across Britain, asking them about youth culture, their influences, priorities, religion and faith. The young people came from a variety of different backgrounds, and included both churched and unchurched youth. It is important to understand young people’s ideas, thoughts and opinions and what is helpful and relevant to them. 

With the research work Youth for Christ had done on Gen Z, this obviously laid a good foundation for deciding what was required for a new youth Bible.

Jack: Definitely, but the team at Youth for Christ were still keen that young people should be involved throughout the process of designing and creating this new Bible. This started with a consultation day to ask young people questions specifically about the Bible. For example, its relevance in their culture and if they felt they understood it?

Laura: A focus group of young people was gathered from a variety of social backgrounds as well as church youth and non-church youth. We aimed to be as inclusive as possible. They were quizzed on things like; where they keep their Bible, how do they read the Bible, what do they look for in a Bible, how do they engage with it day-to-day, what would help them to engage with the Bible more? Our heart is that it is accessible to young people who just want to know more  (whether they are churched or unchurched) if they are interested in faith and in Jesus then they should be able to read, understand and engage with this Bible. 

What did you discover from the consultation day?

Laura: One thing we have learnt from talking with young people is that they need something to make sense to them in order for them to fi nd it interesting. We have tried to feed the intellectual part of their brain and say this is why the Bible makes sense, why Jesus makes sense and why this lifestyle makes sense. We learnt that some young people just don’t know where to start with reading the Bible, and they actually suggested incorporating reading plans. So we’ve included a selection of plans; some shorter, some longer, some that focus on particular topics. There will also be Bible reading plans via YouTube. We knew from the Gen Z research that YouTube was one of the most regular activities that young people do which raised the question, “how do we incorporate that into this new Youth Bible? How can we make both the printed content and that on YouTube something they relate to and would see as theirs?” This has been an exciting challenge, and we are confi dent that the segments and videos we are producing to go alongside the Youth Bible will be popular, engaging and impactful.

Jack: One surprising revelation was just how important layout, design and readability was to the young people who gave feedback. It quickly became clear that the initial brief of the project had shifted, and we were now looking at creating something that was completely new, with all elements being re-imagined at a granular level.

Laura: While carrying out the research for the project, one young person shared, ‘As a Christian I believe that it is not only important to read the Bible but to be able to share it.’ Another young person expressed their desire to see ‘more colour... a chapter page with a summary of the book and... adding drawings...’ This was all helpful information as we worked on the project with Bible Society. 

It sounds like there was a lot to think about with this new Youth Bible. What were some of the challenges you faced?

Barry: We thought hard about how ‘religious’ terminology (i.e. “sin”), which is frequently used in church, may confuse or alienate unchurched youth. So one challenge was exploring practical ways to explain certain elements of faith without using that terminology. It all ties in with our aim to make the GNB Youth Bible as accessible as possible. 

Jack: A great deal of time, thought and prayer has gone into this project both from Bible Society and Youth for Christ. There have been some good challenges, for example, asking the question ‘how can we physically incorporate every idea that we feel is important into this one Bible?’ How can we ensure that the Bible isn’t too bulky but at the same time make it robust enough for journaling? Also, how do we include all the articles and features that we think are relevant to today’s youth while at the same time producing a Bible that is visually pleasing? It has been a true labour of passion to make this Bible engaging and accessible to all young people which is what we have felt led to do.
 
Barry: We were also thinking about who would potentially be buying the Bible; youth leaders, parents, grandparents as well as the young people themselves. Whoever picks up this new Bible has not only to think it looks nice but that it is culturally relevant for today. It’s become clear that the current generation simply doesn’t know the Bible the way that children did in generations past, particularly with fewer families attending church. So there is a desire to see some of that knowledge and understanding replenished in today’s youth.
 
Tell us a little about what you’ve termed the ‘creative interactions’...
 
Laura: These are extra bits of text which go alongside the scriptures. They’re there to offer simple guidance around understanding the scriptures, and they suggest ways of acting on them as well, for example one might suggest that the reader pray for someone or offer someone a blessing. They also help to make it feel like a youth worker is reading it with you, sat with you and helping you to unpack it. It’s not trying to offer explicit answers, but encourages young people to reach answers for themselves.
 
What are some of the key topics covered in this new Youth Bible?
 
Jack: One of our aims with this new Youth Bible was to include guidelines and help with topics and issues that face young people today. We wanted the Bible to be a place where young people could turn for support. Some of the issues we have covered include bullying, social media, the environment, and self-harm.
 
Are you planning a marketing campaign to support the launch of this Bible?
 
Jack: This will benefi t from one of the largest marketing and promotional campaigns Bible Society has ever undertaken for a Bible, and we are committed to do all we can to support Christian retailers in the promotion and sale of this fantastic new Youth Bible. We are working on a sales and marketing campaign, along with a range of supportive resources and promotional events that we believe will encourage churches and individuals to purchase from their local Christian bookshops.
 
Key Features
 
■ Complete GNB Bible text
■ Full-page introduction to every book of the Bible, including key characters, timeline, why read it?, what you need to know.
■ 32 colour pages including general information on how to read the Bible and reading plans.
■ Creatively designed pages for Journaling.
■  Single column text with 50mm margin for journaling and over 400 other ‘creative interactions’ divided into categories of; Colour, Watch, Create, Think, Learn and Act.
■ Advice, testimonies and features on cultural issues facing young people today (including bullying, use of social media, the environment, self-harm, etc.).
■ Free access to accompanying support material via the YouTube channel. Content will include further insights and support on key cultural issues affecting young people, key biblical themes and Bible reading plans. 

 

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