Report on the Center for Oral Scriptures 

Dr. Charles Madinger

Vice President, COS



The Center for Oral Scriptures provides leadership and support services to the International Orality Network ( The following report provides an overview of some of the outcomes for 2016.

Research: global orality mapping project

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Center for Oral Scriptures | Global Mapping ProjectTo create a strategy enhancing aid for the mission force to more accurately define, describe, and identify the oral majority and their degree of orality reliance.

The Orality Survey quantifies the level of orality reliance based on 20 valid characteristics, and places the people group on a grid for simple identification of key factors to understand when building strategies or programs. This process for all remaining unreached people groups and any others whom organizations survey will have an open source security enhanced platform and provide a continually updated source of data, resources for instructional design and a link to peoples with similar OI scores. The World Evangelical Alliance Mission Commission (Panama, 2016) featured the Global Mapping Project in a research session where 15 experts discussed key research initiatives that would benefit the entire Church Body. As a result many of the organizations represented will lend their expertise in the final design and distribution of the survey and index components.



The program produced a 38% overall increase in orphan care literacy as well as a significant indication of future behavioral change. Outside the high impact among the caregivers attending the workshop, the most dramatic may be the secondary outcomes. Some shared the program outside the capitol and found high interest in translating (language, music and a few cultural adaptations) the program for community radio broadcasts. ZAMCOM, who trains community radio programmers, hopes to find a grant in the second quarter of 2017 to take the program into production at the national, regional and local levels. In doing so, they believe H.E. could provide the foundation for large scale social behavior change.

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The Center for Oral Scriptures (COS) collaborated with TWR/RiverCross to design, develop and evaluate an oral strategy (7-episode radio drama & workshop) for training workers and volunteers among at risk children. The modern day global moral crisis finds more exploited and abused children in the world today than there were children living in the day of Jesus, and the new division of TWR is taking on a biblical response. Susan Vonolzeski and Cindy Finley conceived and launched this project that COS helped make a reality, and assessed its impact.

Center for Oral Scriptures | Holding Esther

Caregivers of orphans and traumatized children are the primary hope for restoration and healing. However their training lags far behind the efforts to rescue the victims of human trafficking. So, while there are many exemplary programs to police, prosecute and inhibit the crime, there are few programs that exclusively target the frontline caregivers of these children. This study evaluates the pilot testing of Holding Esther among 111 Zambian workshop participants during the week of February 2-5, 2016. Prior to the workshop fifteen facilitators received 14 hours of orientation for leading discussion groups interacting on the content of the 7 episodes of Holding Esther, how to assist with quantitative data collection, and the discussion techniques for focus groups at the conclusion of the training. The evaluation findings indicate that orality framed instructional communication in general, and the Holding Esther program specifically, lead to transformational learning at all levels – knowledge, values and behaviors/practices


The Global Oral Instructional Communication Certificate addresses the void of education and training to prepare leaders to design, develop, implement and evaluate programs targeting those with high orality reliance. Schools and seminaries around the world can use the 5 (or more) courses in existing or expanding degree programs without having to support the faculty required to teach these sections.

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Currently all instructional design and instructional communication programs focus solely on those who read to learn, and not the Oral Majority. The OICom Certificate seeks to establish a collaboration to equip leaders (multi-sectorally – non-profit, governmental or faith-based) in the design and implement orality-framed strategies, training and curricula.

Five courses, offered as intensive on-site, hybrid or on-line, lead to a post-baccalaureate certificate granted from the collaborators. COS provides the instructors (Dr. Chike Anyaegbunam, Dr. Derek Lane, who are both from UKY College of Communication & Information, and Dr. Chuck Madinger), as well as an on-line platform for courses.

Currently schools in the USA, Nigeria, Kenya, South African, India and the Philippines have shown interest in the program that could begin as early as 2018.


In 2016, COS has contributed to several articles and publications, in order to increase awareness of orality and the impact of its use in education, missions, and community development. Several key publications are listed below. 

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Center for Oral Scriptures | Orality in Americaiv. Publications 

1. Mission America: Orality in North America 

COS (Madinger) contributed the chapter, “Caring Enough to Communicate Orally,” that identifies how the principles and methods of orality impact communication strategies that address complicated issues that affect large sections of people. We used the case studies of working with the EPA on a project that required community residents to trust messages about water contamination, and a project to inform and motivate Eastern Kentucky residents about the epidemic of Type II Adult Onset Diabetes (as much a communication and cultural issues as it is medical), and how to improve your family’s future.

Both case studies underscore that orality is far more than Bible storying methods. It applies to everything we teach, and how we teach it. The challenge is to care enough about our “audience” to communicate by ways and means that mean the most to them, not us.

Center for Oral Scriptures | Orality and Literacies2. Oralities & Literacies: Implications for Education and Communication 

ION began forums for specialized interests shortly after the first gathering at the Billy Graham Center of Wheaton College in 2010. The Beyond Literate Western Contexts & Practices led to further dialogues of scholars and practitioners dedicated to doing all we can to communicate better from the classroom to the field.

This book (C. Madinger, Editor) captured the conversation at Oklahoma Baptist University (Orality Forum for Theological Educators and Practitioners, 2014) about our progress in orality conceptualization as multiple oralities and multiple literacies.

3. Applications of the Orality Discussion 

Center for Oral Scriptures | The Orality GapThe lead article of the 2017 Evangelical Missions Quarterly promoted an on-going orality discussion with two further examples of applying the principles to programs that lead to transformation. The first highlighted Holding Esther (above), and showing how the biblical principles of gentleness and applying them for caregivers of exploited children can transform the children as well as the communities in which they live. The second example came from a field worker in Ethiopia that persisted in his effort to make the gospel viral through the use of indigenous song.

The article’s major contribution to the orality discussion is found in the “Orality Gap:” the distance between where we tend to design content and where high orality reliant people really live. The challenge is to move out of our learned and comfortable methods and styles of teaching and communication, to the ways and means preferred totally by those same people.


The COS team provides support services to the ION Executive Director, as well as to the ION Global Executive Team and International Council. This includes strategic planning and advocacy, communications, financial, logistical and administrative services. Our communications team has revamped the ION social media outlets and website. ION is expanding rapidly around the globe and these services are essential to its effectiveness. In the past 18 months ION events in Africa, South East Asia, India, and North America have catalyzed local initiatives to equip the Body of Christ to disciple oral learners. The following report provides an overview of some of the outcomes for 2016


Orality practice and research pre-dates any intentional Western strategies in the world of missions. South Asia claims one of the oldest oral traditions on the planet, and India has been gathering scholars and programs to sharpen their focus for decades. Orality is quickly understood, but a challenge to embrace completely due to the highly textual ways and means of education imposed since the Colonial era.

Recently, relationships have been developing to be inclusive in promoting the principles and processes related to orality, especially among educators and church planters. Eventually, a

forum for theological educators took shape hosted by Serampore College (Kolkata area) for January 2017.

However, as a Think Tank of key leaders gathered to determine the need and feasibility of launching a uniquely India (South Asia) they decided that the first orality gathering should be more general in nature and follow the design of the International Orality Network with its 7 gateways and numerous pathways for engagement. The network would now be called into existence and led by nationals with the first by-invitation-only consultation in March 2017.

The major planned outcomes of the March consultation are:

  1. The formation of a formal India Orality Network with designated leadership roles and personnel;
  2. An original work produced by Indian authors related to the 7 gateway topics that would be published prior to the event and revised afterwards;
  3. Further conferences, consultations and forums to be planned over the next 12-18 months with both general orality education and focused orality specialized discussions that could strengthen the foundations for oral strategies, research and better practices;
  4. The India Orality Network would provide more global leadership through publication, research and participation in other regional events.

The staff of Whole Word Institute/COS served the ION regional conference through program and communications planning & support, media, speaking and leading focused workshops.

COS provided leadership to the Research Focus Group where the Global Orality Mapping Project & Orality Index was used as something others could join in collaboration. Our team also initiated a gathering of younger leaders at the conference, which has resulted in an innovative collaboration tool which will be launched to the wider network later this month.

The conference featured the case study of Holding Esther during the plenary sessions as we attempted to expand the applications of orality outside the boundaries of the storying methodologies. Cindy Finley led the two morning sessions by explaining the design of the radio drama/workshop and walking our group through what they did and how they did it.

Three films, produced by COS were featured as part of a larger book and film production called Master Storyteller, which will be released this year.


The book Oralities and Literacies: Implication for Education and Communication finally made it past the editor and into publication. This volume is the first in a series of digital publications where readers can interact with the text, send suggested additions, references or divergent opinions and have them included in the text. Each chapter awaits comments from those who wish to respond to the content, and the “orality discussion” will keep moving forward.


Whole Word Institute/COS representing ION presented the concepts and practices of orality to a group interested in the Middle East and North Africa. Many of the groups are currently employing media in their outreach, but there is a clear need to think through the implications of the oral traditions embedded in the cultures of the region. Following the Summit DS and CM are working with a team looking into further creative strategies.


David Pope, of the Issachar Initiative and Finishing the Task, is making great strides to discover and implement more inclusive orality principles and methods in identifying, describing and connecting with the remaining unreached, unengaged peoples of the world. His invitation to present an introductory workshop at the FTT conference made it possible to further introduce orality to attending mission organizations, missionaries and church leaders. Again, we found that most workers may have heard of orality (Bible storying), practiced it (in storying forms), but never grasped the handle on the implications for all of humanity being oral communicators made in the image of an oral communicating God. Several partnerships and collaborative projects are emerging from the FTT conference hosted by the Saddleback Church.

The day following the conference COS was invited to participate in the research group of FTT where we briefly examined the Global Mapping Project and the Orality Index as tools for assessing unreached peoples. We hope to serve the FTT and Issachar events as orality consultants, and to be part of future planning and strategies.