On street corners, television channels, and iPods; in passing cars, dorm rooms, and malls, the low rumble of pumping, pounding drum and bass beats throbs from speakers, peppered with rapid-fire battle rhymes chronicling the grittier perceptions of urban life. Hip-hop rakes in $4 billion a year (roughly 20 percent of records sold in the United States).
With an expanding legion of youth and young adults identifying with hip-hop culture, its societal influence is hard to ignore. Nelson Bibles faced a formidable challenge in presenting the New Testament to a hip-hop audience, which can have exacting standards as to what counts as authentic. The result is a new 406-page "BibleZine" called REAL.
Nelson's BibleZines are magazine-like presentations of portions of the Bible featuring content and packaging meant to be culturally relevant. In the past, BibleZines have been tailored for teen girls, teen guys, women, and men. Though critics have complained that BibleZines inadvertently sabotage the authority of Scripture (packaging it as a magazine, a short-lived medium), nearly a million copies have sold.
The potential of a product like REAL is not lost on some urban ministry leaders. "As long as it's true to the Bible," says William Crowder, pastor of New Covenant Christian Church in the heart of urban north Nashville, "it meets the young hip-hop generation exactly where they are."
The proposal of a BibleZine for hip-hop came from Michelle Clark Jenkins and Stephanie Perry Moore, both experienced in creating urban-oriented ministry materials. Nelson also recruited a wide range of writers and editors immersed in urban culture.
Some of REAL's supplemental content ...1