12 March

The State of the Bible and Scripture Engagement

Every year the American Bible Society does extensive research into how engaged Americans are with the Bible, in a report called The State of the Bible. You can access this report here.

One of the startling statistics shared in the report was the dip in Bible users in the last two years (see below).

For most of the last decade, around 50% of Americans said they used the Bible 3+ times per year (ABS’s measurement of being a Bible User). In 2022, that number dropped 11 points to 39%. Only 2 out of 5 Americans were Bible Users. Then last year, that percentage number held steady with the overall number decreasing slightly – 103 million to 100 million.

Digging into the profile shows that women (41%) are more likely to be Bible Users than men (36%). Never-married people (30%) are least likely to use the Bible, but interestingly, people who are separated (52%) are most likely. Black Americans (57%) are most likely to be Bible Users, while Asians (27%) and Whites (35%) are least likely. Bible Use seems to increase with age, as Elders (48%) are most likely and Generation Z (30%) least likely to turn to Scripture.

This can be disheartening but I think there is a huge opportunity. The “Movable Middle” is not disengaged but has large sways in Bible use year to year. Looking at the reported frustrations with Bible reading is also eye-opening.

For the “Movable Middle,” the highest frustration is that they don’t know where to start, followed closely by difficulty relating to the language. Bible studies, and those specifically studying a book of the Bible, can directly help with those frustrations!

Take one of the most popular books of the Bible, the gospel of John. Many people do start here in there Bible engagement journey. What if people had a plan to read through the gospel in a specific amount of time? Not a compressed period, mind you, as the #1 reason most people don’t engage Scripture is lack of time (see above). But reading through John in 40 days, that feels doable. And what if, while you were reading it, you had a trusted teacher pointing out helpful distinctions and intricacies? And best of all, what if you did all this with others on the same journey, not only to keep one another accountable but also to share learnings, questions, and highlights?

All this may sound too good to be true but HarperChristian Resources has just this type of Bible study. Kyle Idleman, pastor of Southeast Christian Church in Louisville, Kentucky teaches through the gospel of John in six bite-sized sessions while participants are reading through the book and have a study guide to help them in a group to go deeper. You can check out Kyle’s full first teaching here:

Try it out in your life or small group! Pick up a copy of John by Kyle Idleman for 30% off at ChurchSource. Here’s what one user said:

Did you know that HarperChristian Resources has studies on most books of the Bible? Click the banner below to see all the options for each book of the Bible.