By Carol Pipes
Americans overwhelmingly (77 percent) believe morals and values are declining in the U.S. The most-cited cause for the decline is a lack of Bible reading. A survey by the American Bible Society found that the Bible remains a highly valued, influential force in America. However, studies show few actually read the Bible.
The American Bible Society discovered a significant disconnect in belief versus behavior among Americans. While 66 percent of those surveyed agreed that the Bible contains everything a person needs to know to live a meaningful life, 57 percent admitted they read it fewer than five times per year. Almost two-thirds (61percent) of Americans say they wish they read the Bible more often.
Millions of Americans say the Bible can help them address life’s twists, turns and troubles, according to the American Bible Society study. This is particularly true of Mosaics (ages 18-28), who are more likely than average to show interest in the Bible’s wisdom on certain topics. Researchers admit this is a notable trend since Mosaics read the Bible less often and with less interest than older generations. Mosaics said they were interested in discovering the Bible’s wisdom on parenting and dealing with family conflict.
“God’s Word, inspired by the Holy Spirit thousands of years ago, speaks to us today with startling immediacy,” says Ed Stetzer, president of Lifeway Research. “The Bible is always relevant, in every second of every century. It’s interesting to note that even those who don’t often read the Bible realize it contains wisdom for life.”
A Lifeway Research study found that a disconnect between belief and behavior exists among American Protestant churchgoers as well. While the majority of churchgoers desire to honor Christ with their lives and even profess to think on biblical truths, the Lifeway Research study found few actually engage in personal reading and study of the Scriptures.
The survey found 90 percent of churchgoers agree “I desire to please and honor Jesus in all I do,” and 59 percent agree with the statement: “Throughout the day I find myself thinking about biblical truths.”
However, when asked how often they personally (not as part of a church worship service) read the Bible, a similar number respond “Every Day” (19 percent) as respond “Rarely/Never” (18 percent). A quarter of those surveyed indicate they read the Bible a few times a week. Fourteen percent say they read the Bible once a week and another 22 percent say they read the Bible at least once a month.
“Bible engagement has an impact in just about every area of spiritual growth,” said Stetzer. “You can follow Christ and see Christianity as your source of truth, but if that truth does not permeate your thoughts, aspirations and actions, you are not fully engaging the truth.
“As Christian leaders, we have the opportunity to not only challenge believers to engage God’s Word every day, but to show non-believers how the Bible speaks to all of life’s issues and help them apply it to their life.”