Scripture Engagement Essentials

Author: Research conducted by Barna Group
Published by: American Bible Society (2017)

"Americans believe the nation is in moral decline, but they see hope for change in the pages of Scripture, according to the 2017 State of the Bible survey."

The "State of the Bible" is an annual report commissioned by American Bible Society and conducted by the Barna Group. According to this year’s survey, general trends skew positively toward both Bible engagement and perceptions of the Bible.

Here are some of the research findings:

  • Half of Americans are ‘Bible users’ – that is, they engage with the Bible by reading, listening to or praying with the Bible on their own at least three to four times a year (50%).
  • Nearly one-third of adults say they never read, listen to or pray with the Bible (32%), a five-percentage point increase over 2016.
  • The King James Version continues to be the version Bible users prefer most often, with 31% using this translation.
  • 58% of Americans wish they spent more time reading or listening to the Bible.
  • More than one half (56%) of those who report an increase in Bible readership attribute it to their understanding that Bible reading is an important part of their faith journey.
  • The top reason for decreased Bible reading continues to be being too busy with life’s responsibilities.
  • Most Bible users (91%) still prefer to use a print version of the Bible when engaging with scripture, yet an equal number (92%) report using another Bible format than print in the past year.
  • As expected, younger generations prefer to use their smartphones to access the Bible more than other generations. More than one in four Millennials (27%) prefer their phone compared to one in five (20%) Gen-Xers, 7% of Boomers and just 3% of Elders.

The full report is available as a free PDF download.  [more...]

Author: Barna Research
Published by: American Bible Society (2011)

Published as part of Uncover the Word, "this April 2011 research contains findings from a nationwide study commissioned by American Bible Society and conducted by Barna Research. The study documents responses taken from U.S. adults 18 years of age and older, and categorizes them to highlight essentially four different groups and their feelings with regard to the authority and relevance of the Bible: 1) Engaged, 2) Friendly – Moderate, 3) Friendly – Light, and 4) Antagonistic."

"Lack of time" was noted as a primary deterrent for every single group. Sometimes this response can be more symptomatic than causal; humans find time for things that are high priorities. Still, people can believe in the Bible and want to read more, but don't have the personal bandwidth.

The survey hones in on the perceptions, misperceptions, Biblical confidence and format preference of each group. There is a helpful conclusion section, with recommendations for encouraging Scripture Engagement among people in each of the four categories.  [more...]

Author: Barna Research
Published by: American Bible Society (2013)

The State of the Bible 2013 report contains the findings from a nationwide study commissioned by American Bible Society and conducted by Barna Research.

From the report:

"Americans overwhelming (77%) believe morals and values are declining in the U.S. The most-cited cause for the decline is a lack of Bible reading. As in previous years, the survey found that the Bible remains a highly valued, influential force in America. But beliefs about the Bible and its role in society are becoming increasingly polarized—particularly when the data is examined by age group.

"The research also uncovered a significant disconnect in belief versus behavior. While 66% of those surveyed agreed that the Bible contains everything a person needs to know to live a meaningful life, 58% say they don’t personally want wisdom and advice from the Bible and about the same amount (57%) read it fewer than five times per year.

Key Findings:

  • 1 in 6 people reported buying a copy of the Bible in the last year
  • 80% of Americans identify the Bible as sacred
  • Americans have plenty of copies at their fingertips—with an average of 4.4 Bibles per household
  • 56% of adults believe the Bible should have a greater role in U.S. society
  • But actual Bible reading and perceptions about the Bible have become increasingly polarized, with 6 million new Bible Antagonists in the last year alone
  • More than half (57%) of those ages 18-28 report reading the Bible less than three times a year or never."

Data, analysis and infographics are available for download from the American Bible Society website. There are also links to the 2011 and 2012 reports.  [more...]

Research conducted among US adults
Author: Barna Group
Published by: American Bible Society (2014)

The American Bible Society and Barna Group have published their annual research on the State of the Bible, "a comprehensive study of Americans' attitudes and behaviors toward the Bible".

For 2014, they identify six trends:

  1. Bible skepticism is now “tied" with Bible engagement. Skepticism or agnosticism about the Bible has increased and now stands at 19%, the same as the percentage of those who are Bible engaged (who read the Bible at least four times a week and believe it is the actual or inspired Word of God).
  2. Despite the declines, most Americans continue to be "pro-Bible." But "being pro-Bible doesn't necessarily mean Americans use the Bible regularly, however. Only 37% of Americans report reading the Bible once a week or more."
  3. Distraction and busyness continue to squeeze out the Bible. "Americans say they want to read the Bible — 62% wish they read Scripture more — they just don't know how to make time."
  4. The age of screens has come to stay in the Bible market. "In just a handful of years, use of tablets and smartphones for Bible searches has skyrocketed, from 18% in 2011 to 35% in 2014. That said, a strong majority still prefer to read the Bible in print (84%); the same holds true even among Millennials (81%)."
  5. Increasingly, people come to the Bible for answers or comfort. Although most come to the Bible to connect with God, there is an increase in those looking for pragmatic answers to life's problems.
  6. People are less likely to link moral decline with a lack of Bible reading. People blame decline on other things (movies, music, TV, etc).

Download the full report and infographics from the American Bible Society website.  [more...]

Published by: Bible Society (UK), 2008

Congregation members also feel that there is scope for improving the role the Bible plays in Church services. Many feel their understanding of the passages read by preachers during sermons would increase if preachers were better at contextualising the material and providing them with examples of how it is relevant to their lives and how they can apply biblical principles to the problems they face.

This report contains the views of church congregations and pulpits across England and Wales. Commissioned by Bible Society, the report reflects the comments of more than 3,000 church leaders and members.

Topics researched include: the Bible in terms of society and churches, the Bible and spiritual growth, Bible resources, and Bible literacy and application.  [more...]

Help Your Young People Enjoy Life with the Bible
Author: Adrian Blenkinsop
Published by: Bible Society Australia, 2013

"The Bible According to Gen Z" is a collection of essays from Australia on encouraging Bible engagement among young people. It includes research results and analysis, together with responses from youth leaders and case studies.

Here are some selected quotes:

"The study showed that the best way to encourage young people to read the Bible is to encourage them to participate in a Bible reading group."

"Encouraging the sharing of ideas, opinions and questions around a passage is also vital for young people to dig into Scripture, and have a sense of 'discovery' and shared learning."

"Many young people read very little, especially in the form of books... Bible reading requires a sustained effort of a kind that is 'uncomfortable' for many young people."

"Individualism and post-traditionalism has meant that life is approached in a very flexible manner... Few young people develop strong habitual or structured daily activities, except in relation to the demands of school and work... The mobile phone has encouraged this unstructured approach to life. Hence, few young people develop structured habits of daily Bible reading."

"There's one core issue that sits at the heart of young people not 'getting into' the Bible. It may seem harsh - but it's simply that there is a consistent lack of modelling of Bible engagement from leaders. If the leaders of young people are not engaging with the Bible, the clear message to those they influence is that the Bible is not important."

"When Bible engagement is done in non-interactive, non-creative ways, it often reinforces the lack of importance and relevance of the Bible in the minds of young people."

"Experiencing the Bible as relevant depends on the attitudes one brings to it. If young people read it simply as stories of long ago, it had little relevance. If they read it as God's communication today, they were far more likely to experience it as relevant to life."

"For the young people who do read the Bible, there is often a frustration with the 'non-immediacy' of it (the fast-food approach to the Bible)."

Available as an e-book or printed book.  [more...]

Mapping Bible Engagement Across a Changing Culture
Published by: Barna, 2016

From the Publisher's description:

The Bible in America is a multiyear survey of attitudes toward and perceptions of the Bible, set against the backdrop of a changing cultural landscape. Commissioned by American Bible Society, Barna researchers have conducted more than 14,000 interviews with U.S. teens and adults since 2011 to discover:

  • How do Americans define the Bible?
  • Do they believe it is authoritative for their lives? And in what ways?
  • What is the nation’s current state of biblical literacy?
  • How often do people read, hear and study the Scriptures?
  • What does the data suggest about the future of Bible engagement?
  • How is technology changing the ways people relate to the Bible?
  • Are there significant differences between generations or other demographic groups?

The findings reveal that orienting ourselves toward the Bible is one of the most urgent tasks for today’s Church. The Bible in America offers analysis, insights and encouragement to leaders who want to understand how people engage with the Scriptures today and how to cultivate biblical faith that lasts in an ever-changing world.

Full color report with infographics. 173 pages.
Available as a printed book or an e-book. Price: $40.  [more...]

What future is there for the Bible in our churches?
Author: Henri Bacher

"The greatest difficulty is no longer distribution, but appropriating the content of the Bible... There is a need to teach believers to meditate and, as in any learning process, you have to give regular booster injections if you want people to continue. We have often rambled on about the Bible, in sermons and Bible studies, but have we truly helped Christians to engage with the Bible in their day-to-day living?"

In this article, Henri Bacher describes some of the reasons for the erosion of Bible practice in the church and in believers' lives. Rather than starting with communication techniques, his suggested solutions major on the value of community. The idea is to encourage group interaction, networking and mutual encouragement, helping others to enter into regular, personal meditation.  [more...]