Amid the negative news showing a decrease in Americans’ Bible use and engagement, there’s a glimmer of hope and a challenge to Christians everywhere.
The American Bible Society’s “State of the Bible USA 2022” report recently found significant decreases in key Bible metrics, but the study also found a positive: a substantial proportion of people who seldom or never read Scripture expressed at least some curiosity about the Bible and Jesus.
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In fact, the American Bible Society said this particular subset of data offered “positive news for those in Bible ministry” on the inquisitiveness front.
“Nearly two-thirds of people who seldom or never read the Bible (non-Bible users) indicated some curiosity [about the Bible and Jesus],” the report reads. “One-third of non-Bible users said they were ‘very’ or ‘extremely’ curious.”
This opens up a significant opportunity for missions and sharing the Gospel among scores of Americans who seem open to hearing more.
With this information in mind, the American Bible Society asked, “How will churches and ministries respond to that curiosity?” This question is paramount, especially amid a culture increasingly detaching from the truth.
The statistics should spark boldness in believers — and a willingness to share more fervently. The specific mechanisms used to do so are certainly part of that discussion.
Technology undoubtedly provides new inroads through which people can be reached with the Gospel message — and in more innovative ways. Some churches are already relying on surprising and uncommon tools to reach the unreached and diversify into new areas of digital evangelism.
CBN’s Faithwire recently explored how Life.Church is using virtual reality:
It remains to be seen how these tools will work in practice as churches put them to the test. Either way, the need seems increasingly great.
Despite curiosity, a more unfortunate reality emerged in The American Bible Society data: Scripture engagement has seen a “major decrease.”
This “unprecedented drop” in 2022 showed a 10% decrease in Bible users — those who use the Bible at least three to four times each year outside of church events — compared to 2021.
The survey’s findings mean “nearly 26 million Americans reduced or stopped their interaction with Scripture in the past year.” That’s a concern, especially coming off a problematic pandemic that curbed hope for many and a culture obsessively focused on the self.
Engagement among Bible users was also down, with those disengaged with Scripture expanding at an “alarming rate,” according to The American Bible Society.
“One in five Americans left the Scripture Engaged category in the past year (−21% or 14.7 million adults), and two in five left the Movable Middle (−44% or 28.7 million adults),” the report reads. “Only the Bible Disengaged category grew, and at an alarming rate, up by 38% (45.2 million adults) in a single year.”
Let’s continue to pray for America and the church more broadly – that more souls will discover the life-saving Gospel of Jesus Christ. And let’s be bold in sharing the Truth with those who need it.
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