Research Results

GIAL Electronic Notes Series Vol. 6 No. 1 (April 2012)
Author: David M Federwitz
Published by: GIAL

"Bible Translation organizations for too long operated under the false assumption that if the Bible was translated, people would be changed by its message. This theory, while rightly acknowledging the power of the Holy Spirit, neglected a full understanding of other factors leading to life transformation. Personally, I am not only interested in people having access to God’s Word in the language of their heart but I am more interested in them applying it in their lives for the long term and having a flourishing relationship with God. I believe that in order for that to be fully realized, the local churches or language community must not view the language development program as belonging to the expatriate or sources outside the community."

This article reports on a study looking at the relationship between local ownership and sustainable use of Scripture to determine if more local ownership of a language development program leads to more sustainable use of Scripture. Other issues were also studied in order to more fully understand their relationship with ongoing Scripture use. In the end, it was discovered that indigenous language learning by expatriate language development program workers, capacity building for indigenous language development workers and the length of time since the completion of a language development program were important indicators of sustainable Scripture use.  [more...]

by CODEC in England and Wales
Author: Revd Dr Peter Phillips
Published by: CODEC, St John's College, University of Durham

This survey of British people's knowledge and use of the Bible was carried out in streets and shopping centres across England and Wales.

Here are some of the findings:

  • 75% said that they owned a Bible, 46% of these owned a traditional Bible, 18% a modern version and 36% said that they owned both a modern and a traditional version.
  • 18% said that they had read the Bible in the last week. 31% said the Bible was significant in their lives now. 47% said the Bible was never significant to them.
  • Even if the information about Bible reading habits is a little gloomy, knowledge about core details of the Christian faith and some of the central Biblical figures are better.
  • About 80% of those surveyed had some knowledge about the crucifixion and resurrection of Jesus. However, knowledge about some essential stories is being lost, especially Old Testament stories.

The survey briefing concludes: "...the masses have been persuaded that the Bible cannot be understood without someone else coming to interpret it or indeed make it more simple – to broker the Bible. Once again, we are offered the stark reality of a people who have been robbed of their Bible, robbed of the words of life by elitism and clericalism. For Biblical Literacy to make an impact of some kind, we need to re-engage the masses with their Bible, to return it to the people: we need a New Reformation!"  [more...]

Report into Scripture reading habits of parents and children
Published by: Bible Society, UK

The Bible Society in the UK has launched Pass It On, a campaign to encourage parents to read, watch or listen to a Bible story with their child.

An accompanying Research Report is available for download. Among the findings are:

  • Only 35% of children have had a Bible story read to them by their parents and just 16% by their grandparents.
  • Over half of children (54%) never, or less than once a year, read Bible stories at school or at home, and 45% of parents of children aged 3 to 8 say they never read Bible stories to their child, falling to 36% in London and rising to 52% in Scotland and 60% in Wales.
  • In stark contrast, 86% of parents read, listened to or watched Bible stories themselves as a child aged 3 to 16.
  • For 1 in 5 parents (22%) of younger children, aged 3 to 8, a lack of time is a barrier to them reading to their children more often. For some parents, an increase in the availability of different types of media is making it difficult to read more often to their children. Yet, while digital devices are growing in popularity, 82% of children still like to read stories more traditionally in a book.

The report concludes:

Our research highlights a number of worrying trends, among them evidence that Bible literacy – already in serious decline – will become significantly worse in the future.

While millions of people in Britain and around the world believe in the value Bible stories bring to society, little is being done in our homes or schools to keep them alive for future generations.

The Pass It On campaign seeks to respond to this challenge.  [more...]

Prime Journal of Social Science, Vol. 1, Issue 7, 121-129 (2012)
Author: Jonathan E. T. Kuwornu-Adjaottor

Abstract:

"The need for the translation of the Scriptures into the vernacular to enable people read the Bible in their mother-tongues started in the third century BC in the ancient city of Alexandria in Egypt. Since the first mother-tongue translation – from Hebrew to Greek – many vernacular translations have been done. As of 2009, Bible Agencies in Ghana have translated the full Bible into 13 and the New Testament into 20 languages. The question is, are the mother-tongue translations of the Bible being used?

"The study which was conducted in Kumasi, Ghana, in 67 congregations of the Mainline, Ghana Pentecostal, African Indigenous and Charismatic Churches, and some New Religious Movements, in October-November 2009 reveals that 55.5% of the respondents had the Bible in eight mother-tongues in the Kumasi Metropolis; people from ages 41-60, constituting 77.2% of the respondents read the mother-tongue Bibles most; only 12.8% young people read the mother-tongue Bibles; 34.1% of the respondents read the mother-tongue Bibles daily; 32.1% at least thrice a week; and 33.8% once a week, perhaps only on Sundays when they carry the Bibles to their respective churches. Even though this research was limited to Kumasi, it serves as an eye opener as to whether Christians are using the Bible translated into the various Ghanaian languages. This research is significant in that it is the first of its kind in Ghana, and others can build on it."  [more...]

A Strategy for Promoting the Use of the Vernacular Scriptures in the Cameroon Baptist Convention Churches in Nso’ Tribe, Cameroon
Author: Shey Samuel Ngeh

MTh thesis, South African Theological Seminary (2015)

Abstract:

This research was prompted by the observation that there is minimal use of Lamnso’ Scriptures in Baptist churches in Nso’, even though the Lamnso’ New Testament has been available since 1990. It was also observed that the active participation of Nso’ Christians in Bible studies done in Lamnso’ points to great prospects for the extensive use of Lamnso’ Scriptures.

The author of this thesis seeks to devise a strategy for promoting Lamnso’ Scriptures for extensive use. He consulted academic works to find out what others have written regarding the importance of mother tongue Scriptures and conducted a historical analysis to find out how historical factors have shaped the attitude of Baptist churches towards Scriptures in Lamnso’. He did an empirical study by sending questionnaires to fifty-seven Baptist churches, receiving feedback. The data collected was analyzed and interpreted.

The result shows that even though Lamnso’ Scriptures are indispensable to spiritual maturity among Nso’ Baptist Christians, their use in evangelism and discipleship do not reflect their importance. This is due to lack of a proper strategy and biblical teaching on the importance of mother tongue Scriptures. Consequently, the author has proposed a theological framework to provide a theological basis for setting forth a strategy for promoting Lamnso’ Scriptures.

The theological framework is followed by a practical framework based on the historical and empirical analyses, as well as the theological obligations of the church. The author contends that proposed solutions, recommendations and action plans with practical steps must be implemented by individual Baptist Christians, churches, Baptist theological institutions and the Cameroon Baptist Convention at large so that Lamnso’ Scriptures assume their proper place in evangelism and discipleship for the growth of the church.  [more...]

Coordinator: Jed Carter

The Scripture Engagement Research Compendium (SERC) provides brief, comparable descriptions of SE research projects conducted in minority languages around the world. It is a helpful starting point for those desiring to learn from SE research and for anyone planning SE research.

 
 

SERC was initiated in 2019 by Jed Carter, with the help of many SE researchers, including a significant number who contributed entries about their own research.

How can SERC be used?
You can sort the spreadsheet by PIQUE factor for types of research deemed relevant, by date to see how SE research has progressed, or by location to see where SE research has or hasn't been done. You can read full reports for the relevant research, and contact authors to ask how and why questions if planning similar research. You could compile a list of findings and evaluate which are likely to be true in your context.

What is PIQUE?
SERC uses the PIQUE framework, allowing for brief, comparable descriptions of research. PIQUE (Purpose, Informant, Quantitative-Qualitative, Unit of analysis, Extent of area researched) attempts to capture key aspects of research projects. In addition to helping the reader better understand what types of SE research exist, the PIQUE factors can be used to find past research projects which are similar to planned, future SE research, which enables SE researchers to build on past research.  [more...]

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...]

Research conducted among U.S. adults
Author: Barna Group
Published by: American Bible Society (2019)

This report contains the findings from a nationwide study in the United States, commissioned by the American Bible Society and conducted by Barna Group.

Here are some of the findings:

  • One in six adults (16%) reports using the Bible every day, while another 14% use it several times a week. Another 9% of the population use the Bible once a week, 7% use it once a month, compared to 6% who use it three to four times a year, and 18% who use it less often. Roughly one in three (31%) say they never use the Bible.
  • The most commonly cited top frustration when it comes to reading the Bible is not having enough time to use it (19%). Less than half as many cite language that is difficult to relate to (8%). Other frustrations mentioned include not knowing where to start (6%), not feeling excited to use it (6%), and a lack of understanding for the background or history of the Bible (4%).
  • Overall, 59% of Americans agree that the Bible has transformed their life, including 26% of adults who agree strongly. Roughly two in five adults (42%) say the Bible has not transformed their lives.
  • The use of a physical copy of the Bible remains strong at 91%. More than half of Bible users have also used the Internet on a computer to read Bible content (55%) or searched for Bible verses or Bible content on their phone (56%), and another 44% have downloaded or used a Bible app on their smartphone.
  • All Bible users, regardless of age, prefer a print version of the Bible. However, one in four Millennials (27%) and Gen X adults (26%) prefers to use their phone or tablet, compared to 9% of Boomers and 2% of Elders who prefer a hand-held electronic device.
  • Bible ownership corresponds with age: the older a person is, the more likely they are to own a Bible in a language they can understand. More than nine in 10 Elders (92%) own an understandable Bible, while 85% of Boomers, 82% of Gen X, and 75% of Millennial households do.

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

Published by: American Bible Society and Barna Group (2020)

The State of the Bible 2020 research report can be downloaded as a free ebook from: sotb.research.bible.

The first four chapters of the ebook are currently available, and American Bible Society will publish additional ebook chapters every month between August and December 2020.

Here is a summary from the American Bible Society blog:

"American Bible Society today released its 10th annual State of the Bible report, which shows cultural trends in the U.S. regarding spirituality and Scripture engagement. The report reveals findings from two surveys, one conducted in January 2020 with Barna Group and another this June, that demonstrate the effects of the pandemic on the faith community. The data show that Scripture engagement has declined amid the COVID-19 outbreak, and there is a clear relationship between Scripture engagement and in-person church participation."

“Faith communities have demonstrated incredible resilience, innovation and empathy through the pandemic. But this survey reveals that a big opportunity still remains for Christian organizations to make an impact on Scripture engagement,” said American Bible Society president and CEO, Robert Briggs. “Despite nearly every individual in the U.S. having access to the Bible, engagement has decreased. That’s been a consistent trend over the past few years, and the trend has accelerated since January 2020 throughout the pandemic. The Church must transition from ‘survival’ mode back into ‘discipleship’ mode, and, yes, that’s going to take even more innovation.”

"The study shows a direct correlation between increased Scripture engagement and those efforts typically organized by a church, including mentorship programs and small group Bible studies. Church closures due to COVID-19 are therefore likely contributing to decreased rates of Scripture engagement."  [more...]