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5 Disturbing Statistics About the Bible (and 1 That’s Super Encouraging)

Bible Study //

Every spring, there is an annual report I look forward to reading – and I’m afraid to read. It’s The State of  the Bible report put out by the Barna Group. Well…it just came out this month. And the results are pretty disturbing (and a little encouraging).

Before diving in, I should mention I have a “love-hate” relationship with statistics. I find them fascinating. And yet, so often, they are wildly misleading.

That being said, I trust the Barna Group. Their research is thorough. Their materials are well-written, easily digested, and beautifully formatted. Oh…and they’ve been doing it a long time. (Thirty years to be exact!)

Sometime soon, grab a cup of coffee, click this link, and thoroughly pour over the 2014 State of the Bible. Not only is there a ton of information, but the infographics are outstanding. (For those of us who miss the days of reading books with lots of pictures.)

Today, I’m simply going to share my Top 5 Most Disturbing Statistics – and the one that’s mostencouraging – from the report.

5 Disturbing Statistics About the Bible

1. 19% of Americans believe the Bible is “just another book of teachings written by men that contain stories and advice.” The part in quotes is the definition they give for someone who is considered “skeptical” of the Bible. The most disturbing part is that the number was 10% only three years ago. Nearly doubled in three years! This is also the exact same percentage – 19% – as people who are considered “engaged” (NOTE: Engaged means they read the Bible at least 4x a week and believe the Bible is the actual or inspired Word of God.) Not exactly a statistic where a “tie” is a good thing.

2. 39% of Millennials never read the Bible. Millennials are young people. People born from the mid-80’s to the early-2000’s. This is truly the “next generation.” The people who will be leading, influencing culture, and running our companies and our government. And they – in their own words – “never read the Bible.”

3. Only 37% of all Americans read their Bible even once a week. Here is the disturbing part to me: 56% of Americans said they believed the Bible is the actual or inspired Word of God with no errors. And yet, we don’t read it. We believe it is God’s Word. We have more access to it than ever. We just don’t think reading it is important.

4. 40% of people say they are “too busy” to read the Bible. Busyness is the Number One reason people gave for why they read their Bible less than they did a year ago. That is an increase of seven points from only one year ago.

5. Only 56% of people read the Bible to connect with God. This is the “relational” component. (Which, as you know, I’m a little passionate about!) While it’s still the Number One reason more than half of people gave for why they read the Bible, it still saddens me. After all, only three years ago, that number was 64%. The number of people who are reading the Bible “relationally” (rather than “informationally”) has actually dropped 8%. Ugh.

The Single MOST Encouraging Statistic

62% of Americans wish they read their Bible more. This one goes hand-in-hand with the disturbing “busyness” statistic a few inches up your screen. People aren’t reading the Bible. People say they’re too busy to read the Bible. And yet – people want to read the Bible.

This is not a simple problem to solve. But it IS solvable. There are ways to get Bible reading into your daily routine. Part of it is attitude. Part is approach. Part is habit.

But it can be done.

I’m going to get to work on putting something together that will help address this very issue.

It might turn out to be an eBook…or a video series…or a month of blog posts and podcast episodes…or interviews…or something else.

Stay tuned…

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About the Author

Keith Ferrin is an author, speaker, blogger, and storyteller who is passionate about helping people read, study, engage, and enjoy the Bible. He was a youth pastor for six years before writing and speaking fulltime. He is the author of three books, including Like Ice Cream: The Scoop on Helping the Next Generation Fall in Love with God’s Word. He and his wife, Kari, have three kids who are the source of both his big smile and gray hair. They live just outside of Seattle. Keith also holds to the belief that coffee and ice cream are proof of a benevolent God.