Glossary of Terms

Certain important terms and their definitions as used on this website are listed here:

  • Bible-Centric Bible Translation (BCBT): a paradigm of Bible translation focused on the production of a quality Bible translation using an academic and linguistic process that is usually led by a translation agency and functions independent of (and sometimes in advance of) the theological and spiritual formation of the lingual church (see definition below). The “Bible-centric” paradigm has as its focus the production of a Bible translation, with life transformation as the intended outcome.
  • church network: interconnected local churches that share a common leadership structure and doctrinal persuasion. This term includes formally-structured, centralized networks such as some denominations, as well as less-structured, decentralized networks such as some house church movements.
  • Church-Centric Bible Translation (CCBT): a paradigm of Bible translation focused on the establishing and strengthening of a lingual church (see definition below) using a translation process that is led by leaders of the church and done by believers translating into their own language, as an integral part of their theological and spiritual formation. The “church-centric” paradigm has as its focus the establishing of the church, with Bible translation as a means to that end.
  • established church: A church that is firmly rooted and grounded in sound doctrine (orthodoxy, c.f. Eph. 4:11-16; Col. 2:5-7; 1 Cor. 15:58) and is characterized by faithful living (orthopraxy, c.f. Eph. 4:1; Col 1:10; 1 Thess. 2:12). This term is not synonymous with a “planted” church, it is not referring to the structure or polity of a congregation, nor does it have in view the classic “three-self” definition (self-supporting, self-propagating and self-governing) as this rubric addresses the indigenization and degree of (in)dependence of the church, not its doctrinal integrity.
  • gateway languages (GLs): the smallest number of Languages of Wider Communication that covers 100% of the languages spoken collectively by the people groups of the world through patterns of multilingualism.
  • global church: the household of God (Eph. 2:19), the body of Christ (Eph. 1:22-23), the sum total of all believers in the one faith (Eph. 3:8-10), from all languages and cultures (Matt. 28:19-20), and including all traditions that are faithful expressions of sound doctrine (Eph. 4:4-5), at the current time. By extension, the ‘universal church’ is the global church through all time.
  • language variant: (also a variety or lect) a specific form of a language (or language cluster) that may include languages, dialects, registers, styles, or other forms in addition to a standard variety.
  • lingual church: a portion of the global church that is linguistically homogeneous, speaking either the same language or variants that have a sufficient degree of mutual intelligibility, and including all traditions that are faithful expressions of sound doctrine (Eph. 4:1-6; 1 Tim. 6:3; Tit. 2:1). This term is similar to (but distinct from) “ethnolinguistic church” and is proposed with the intent of affirming the unity of the global church, while also recognizing the ecclesiological and missiological implications (particularly in terms of effective use of Bible translations and biblical resources) inherent in the existence of one global church that speaks many languages.
  • local church: a portion of the global church comprised of baptized believers in close geographic proximity that meet together regularly to worship God through Jesus Christ, to be exhorted from the Word of God, and to celebrate the Lord’s Supper under the guidance of duly appointed leaders. This term attempts to define the minimum qualifications that distinguish a local church in any people group from other gatherings of believers (e.g., a Bible study, a village/community meeting, etc.).
  • other languages (OLs): in the Gateway Languages strategy, all languages that are not considered gateway languages. This is not a synonym for ‘minority languages’ as some OLs are large and prestigious but may not necessarily be used by the regional church as a source language from which to translate.
  • parachurch organization: an institution that (usually) crosses church network boundaries and serves alongside the church by specializing in tasks that local churches may not be able to accomplish individually.
  • proximate church: an element of the global Church that is geographically, culturally, ethnically, and/or linguistically similar to an unreached people group and that has no historical barrier that prevents them from reaching an unreached people group with the Gospel through evangelism and church planting. This term overlaps to some extent with the concept of “near-culture” missionaries (Johnstone 2011:229).
  • regional church: local churches that share a common geographical location (e.g., a city “the church in Ephesus” (Rev. 2:1) or a region “churches of Galatia” (Gal. 1:2)) and, frequently, cultural distinctives (e.g., “the Western church,” “the church of the Global South”). This term refers to the cross-section of all portions of the global church in a given region, regardless of their affiliation or patterns of existing relationships and leadership structures.
  • universal church: the global church, through all time.