In the beginning of 2016 the WBP began to work on the next strategy for the next five years. It was a process of first evaluating current projects, what worked and what didn’t, what are current challenges, the strengths, the weaknesses, the opportunities and the threats for the WBP. After this process, the WBP started to plan projects that needed to be implemented in order to meet the demands of a new context.
Most of the challenges remain the same as in the beginning of the first 5-year plan:
- Religion was marginalized, even banned during communism
- Religion is still strongly connected with nationalistic views
- Christianity seen as just a folkloristic/traditional part of the life of the people
- Some denominations and ethnic groups are very divided and very closed toward a stronger engagement with the message of the Bible. The WBP has been able to address this issue but in many areas, the problem is still there.
- The churches have limited capacities.
The WBP in the past five years have tried to build capacities through Bible study materials and by providing platforms for Bible engagement, but there is still more to do.
- There is a need for good contemporary Bible translations.
In Albania, Serbia the translation projects are coming to an end which will bring new opportunities in the next two years in the area. Three other translations are planned to be finished by the end of the second 5-year plan.
- There is a lack of Bible study materials.
The WBP has provided some materials useful for Bible studies for groups and individuals, but the need still persists because of the broad range groups of Christian denominations the WBP is serving.
- Many church leaders don’t have effective means of approaching people in a meaningful way with the message of the Bible.
The WBP has had a special focus on Bible Engagement and will continue to provide new ways of approaching people in a meaningful way to the Bible through events, materials and online platforms.
The Role of the WBP
The WBP has been already dealing with some of the challenges mentioned above with a good amount of success. However, some of the objectives remain the same:
- To provide good Bible translations in the heart language of people.
- To provide good Bible study materials that will open up the meaning of the Bible.
- Challenge the common misconceptions of the Bible by promoting the Bible in many levels of our societies. That it has great value of the Bible for the whole of society.
- To help people engage meaningfully with the Bible through different Bible reading and studying activities and platforms.
Strengths of the WBP
- The relation between the group based on good Christian character
- The WBP provides a good example for the UBS
- The WBP inspired many people in the West Balkans related to the Bible mission
- It helps to encourage the local BS ministry in each of the countries
- The BSs of the WBP group grew from simple Bible distributors to something much more visible
- Cross country and cross denominational work
- The WBP is building connections between countries that face a lot of misunderstandings and tensions
Weaknesses of the WBP
- The BSs of the WBP lack sufficient financial investments that could ensure the continuity of the Bible work
- They are small and have limited capacities
- In the past, there was a lack of good internal WBP communication systems. With a lack of clear written procedures about the inner cooperation. (The WBP has created new procedures).
- Fundraising outside UBS is very weak
- The Churches still don’t fully perceive the BSs of the WBP as part of their body but primarily as an organization where they can get resources from.
Opportunities for the WBP
- The region is rightly, still perceived as a mission field and of interest to many external churches and donors
- People are seeking for the truth and for spirituality
- New interest within the traditional churches about the Bible mission
- The BSs are perceived as a good organization to turn to for Bible mission
- The EU has a special focus on the West Balkans that might be explored more as a funding source
Threats to the WBP
- Raise of Nationalism
- Radical Islam
- The Church is poor and it doesn’t have a culture of giving for Bible mission
- The free market approach within the UBS
- The economic situation in the countries
- Strong competition from church publishers