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Lab Projects

Exploring emerging methods, practices, and approaches to Bible translation as a catalyst within the ETEN collective impact alliance. Explore more of what we're up to in the Lab.

Strategic Priorities

In the ETEN Innovation Lab, we catalyze and cultivate ideas, incubate, experiment, and develop new approaches to both long standing and newly developing challenges in Bible translation. We do this with and through others (partners, vendors, organizations) within ETEN and external to ETEN.

The Lab is focused on four key priorities:

Translation Resource Ecosystem 

Equipping the deployment of a TRE for the church through acquisition and development (where necessary) of open-access tools, texts, helps and data to equip church-led translation.

Assisted Translation Technology

Scaling Artificial Intelligence and Commercial Translation technologies.

Quality Assurance

Development and scalability of flexible QA methods to suit emerging translation methodologies.


Discovering and scaling crowd-based technologies (needs assessment, drafting and community checking).

Stages of Exploration

A. Approaches to ways forward across all Lab priorities may fail or pause at any stage prior to utilization.

B. The Lab's goal is to move approaches to utilization, then influence to see it scale.

Current Lab Projects

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Explore Project Details

Creating Access to Open Licensed Translation Resources

Create and provide access to open-licensed translation resources, including critical testaments, semantic lexicons, digital repositories, and language databases. The goal is to promote accessibility, inclusivity, and collaboration in Bible translation efforts.

AI Exploration for Drafting and QA

Leveraging advanced AI technologies to enhance drafting processes and quality assurance (QA) in Bible translation projects. Current projects aim to streamline translation workflows, improve trustworthiness, and accelerate the overall translation process.

Testing Multimodal-First Translation Processes

Testing and refining multimodal translation processes, specifically focusing on oral translation software development. Active projects aim to develop tools and platforms that facilitate efficient and trustworthy translation across different modes and media.

Applications of Crowd-sourcing for Bible Translation

Exploration of crowd-sourcing techniques is incorporated across varied Innovation Lab projects, including multimodal translation processes, AI drafting, and church and community-based quality assurance processes. Using controlled crowd-sourcing, we optimize workflows and collaborate effectively, amplifying the impact of our efforts.

Testing Church and Community-Based Quality Assurance Processes

Testing and improving quality assurance processes within church and community-based Bible translation initiatives. The objective is to ensure translation is trustworthy, understandable, appealing and appropriate while engaging with local communities and church networks.

Connecting Church-Based Bible Translation Networks

Establishing and strengthening networks within the Church-Based Bible Translation (CBBT) community. Current projects aim to foster collaboration, knowledge sharing, and support among leaders and practitioners in the field.

  • Is there a role for an external Translation Consultant (TC) in this model?
    There may be an even greater need for TCs in the Emerging Model of BT than there was in the established—but the function of the TC is not the same. The role becomes more one of a Translation Process Coach, ensuring local translators are better equipped ‘at the front end’ rather than waiting for a finished product to assess. The church is best served when global church experts focus on growing the churchʼs capacity for and expertise in translation and its ongoing review and revision. When global church experts are invited by the church, their best service is as advisors, trainers, encouragers, and mentors throughout translation rather than primarily as end-stage translation checkers.
  • Some anticipate that AI may be capable of "automatically producing" a Bible Translation without human involvement. What are we discovering about that?
    Yes, in principle that is correct, but we have made a deliberate decision not to pursue this as an option, for several reasons: Technology is not there to replace people but to assist them. We produce technology to assist Bible translators, making them more effective and efficient. However, we have seen better quality if we incrementally apply technology. Shortening cycle times and incorporating feedback often improves the quality of the work at a more rapid pace. It also allows us to involve the community. Short cycle time includes them from the start and gives them ownership of the work done. We believe that the Holy Spirit plays an integral part in Bible translation. Having technology as a supporting function allows that to happen.
  • What is the biggest inhibitor to Church-based BT?
    Probably the greatest need is for biblical resources that equip the church to achieve trustworthy translations, then there is much translation work needed to have these resources in Strategic Languages. We also need to discover suitable technology for different contexts. And then there is the need to have ‘Trained Trainers’ in church networks. Inadvertent acceleration of BT production beyond the capacity of the church could create scenarios where the church is not able to verify the trustworthiness of their own translations, which in turn can lead to the need to redo a lot of their translations later. It is generally more efficient to increase the church’s capacity for understanding Scripture such that they are able to do good quality translation in the shortest amount of time possible.
  • In approximately how many languages is AI assisted drafting being utilized and/or tested today?
    When looking at BT drafting, considering the different models, approaches and phases of testing the technology, it is being utilized or tested in more than 200 languages.
  • What is the likelihood that AI will be part of fruitful BT from now on?
    AI has already changed the landscape of BT. There is no doubt that it will continue to be an integral and essential part of BT. AI will not steal the jobs of translators, but translators who use AI will! There are several reasons why: Efficiency: AI can automate and accelerate the translation process, making it possible to translate large volumes of text in a short time. Consistency: AI can maintain consistent use of terms and style across the translation, which is crucial for readability and comprehension. Quality Improvement: AI models are continually learning and improving, which means the quality of translations can improve over time. Cost-Effectiveness: It can be less costly in terms of both money and time for ministry to utilize AI in the translation process, making it feasible to undertake more translation projects.
  • What is the litmus test for when the AI model is considered helpful in BT?
    There are various methods to assess the effectiveness of a machine-generated draft. However, we use a straightforward approach. We ask translators to evaluate the output by posing a single question: Upon reviewing the draft, what would be faster to produce a final product - editing the existing text or starting from scratch with your own translation?
  • What are the key elements of effective Church-based Bible translation?
    Immersion: discussions, role-playing, and exploring the motivations of characters, are ways for the community to build their theological understanding of specific passages. This is a crucial starting point that prepares the community for accurate and meaningful Bible translation. Oral Approach: we recognize that many communities engage with God’s truth through oral communication. This includes embracing diverse ways of engaging with Scripture – we call it multi-modality. Iterative Quality Affirmation: Review and revision is an important step in church based Bible translation. This step involves feedback from other translators, the community, and other key leaders. Iterative Publication and Utilization: When pieces of Scripture are published and utilized by the community, it informs further translation; so the church grows in its experience and understanding of Scripture through the translation process. These elements collectively contribute to an effective translation approach by the emergent Church, ensuring that Scripture is accessible, relevant, and impactful within diverse linguistic and cultural contexts.
  • What is the Every Tribe Every Nation (ETEN) alliance?
    Every Tribe Every Nation (ETEN) was established in 2010 as an alliance of Bible translation organizations of significant global engagement and Resource Partners committed to eradicating Bible poverty. It uniquely combines the perspectives of missiology and philanthropy by bringing together implementers and investors. It seeks to leverage the alliance partnership to ensure that by 2033 at least a portion of the Bible is translated into every language needed to reach every tribe and nation. To learn more visit
  • Why was the Innovation Lab formed?
    In early 2020, the ETEN Steering Committee analyzed the trajectory of the All Access Goals and concluded that the rate of progress was such that the goals would not be achieved by 2033. Together, they developed the “What Must Change” priorities: (1) Bolster Spiritual Unity and Alignment of our Base, (2) Radically Broaden Involvement, (3) Thoughtfully Integrate Innovation and (4) Sharply Focus the Aligning Energies on the Goals. The greater accessibility and acceleration needed for the alliance to accomplish the third priority required a group of dedicated drivers to test, prove and scale innovative options.
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