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Orality, Storying Basics, Strategy

The Unreached Half: Wrenching Statistics on Literacy in America

US Literacy statsHalf of all Americans struggle with reading skills. Yet, our churches remain geared to the highest literacy levels. No wonder unchurched Americans tune out approaches from Christians! We relate information in the ways we prefer to deliver it, rather than in the ways those who need it most want to receive it. Yet there are 150 million or more Americans who are being missed.

In 2003, the U.S. Department of Education (DOE) divided literacy into four groupings: below basic, basic, intermediate, and proficient. These designations replace the terms such as illiterate and functionally illiterate, which were used in the 1992 survey.

  1. Below Basic—14 percent (1 in 7)
    • Sign name, find medicine dosage (only 3 to 4 percent are purely non-readers)
  2. Basic—36 percent
    • Compare ticket prices; read pamphlet
  3. Intermediate—37 percent
    • Reads novels and for leisure
    • Ability to scan the Internet for information
    • Connects through social media, such as Facebook
    • Can read maps and charts, such as checkbook when required

4. Proficient—13 percent

      • Finding, maintaining, and using info from continuous paragraphs
      • Only one-third of all college graduates

The National Assessment of Adult Literacy (NAAL) conducted by the U.S. Department of Education in 2003 affirmed that essentially the same percentage of people had inadequate reading skills as their 1992 landmark study, even though billions of dollars had been spent to improve education during that period.

And still literacy is only one of five or six reasons to use an oral approach: learning preference, educational attainment, Bible translation availability, reproducibility, and well, Jesus modeled it for us!

Church leaders with a literate learning preference must take the initiative to re-learn oral communications methods. Orality is not just a Third-World methodology or for those with learning challenges. After all, 75% of God’s Word is in story form. There are 500-700 Bible stories that God has provided His disciple-makers to use.

This ministry exists to help churches and ministries be more effective than ever as the Lord leads. How can I help? Explore the articles on this blog or write SnowdenMinistries@gmail.com.


About Mark Snowden

TruthSticks originated from the book I co-authored with the late Avery Willis. Truth That Sticks: How to Communicate Velcro Truths in a Teflon World was the book and this blog and Bible studies have resulted. It's great to be partnering with churches who are committed to making disciple-makers. Request a catalog of Bible studies using orality at SnowdenMinistries@gmail.com.


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