17 April, 2024

Reprioritize God’s Word

by | 1 March, 2023 | 1 comment

By Megan Rawlings  

Question: What is black and white and re(a)d all over? Answer: Not the Bible. This may seem like a trivial schoolyard joke, but I wanted to get your attention.  

The American Bible Society (ABS) reported alarming statistics in its 2022 State of the Bible survey. Based on their findings, I fear Christians are moving away from the Bible in the hopes of finding something that makes them feel better. I have seen an influx of “do what’s best for you,” “what you put out into the world will come back to you,” and other well-intentioned pieces of advice emphatically opposing what Scripture teaches. How do we follow Scripture if we are not reading and engaging with it? 

The Problem 

The 2022 State of the Bible survey states,  

We noticed an unprecedented drop in the percentage of Bible Users in the United States. In every study since 2018, Bible Users have accounted for between 47 and 49 percent of American adults; however, the 2022 data showed a 10 percent decrease from the same time in 2021. That means nearly 26 million Americans reduced or stopped their interaction with Scripture in the past year. Our concern deepened when we looked at the Scripture engagement numbers for the United States. One in five Americans left the Scripture Engaged category in the past year (−21 percent or 14.7 million adults), and two in five left the Movable Middle (−44 percent or 28.7 million adults). Only the Bible Disengaged category grew, and at an alarming rate, up by 38 percent (45.2 million adults) in a single year. 

The drop in Bible engagement and users was so large that it seemed there might be a flaw in the study. Upon further reading, I found that the researchers had the same concern. They reevaluated their studies, questions, and material to find that the numbers were not lying. This significant dip was real, and we should not be surprised. ABS attributes this dip to events such as the COVID-19 Omicron variant, political polarization, and others that happened in the country during this time.  

Why This Matters 

But I have my own idea as to what might be a major contributing factor. Could the drop in Bible Users be from the lack of understanding of whose Word it is? If we looked at Scripture for what it is, the Word of God, and noted that the Creator of everything is speaking to us through the words written on these pages, would we not take the material more seriously?  

We have no idea whom we are worshipping or serving if we will not take the time to read what he has told us about himself. The Bible is not a self-help book that we should run to when we feel empty or in need. It is material designed for us to study and “hide in our hearts so that we will not sin against God” (see Psalm 119:11). The crux of it all is, “How can we know God if we don’t listen to him?” 

What We Can Do About It 

In the words of the great poet and philosopher Bob Dylan, “The times they are a-changin’.” I realize this. Life gets away from us. We overcommit, our schedules fill up, and things that seem important at this moment will trump our long-term agendas every time. That is the problem. Reading Scripture is too frequently on the back burner of our metaphorical stove. If we read a handful of Scripture verses before bedtime, we think we are doing fine. If you have paid attention to nothing else in this article, please take note of this (and I am writing to myself too): If we do not have time to read and study the Bible, then we must reprioritize our commitments, our time, and our lives. 

I do not want you to think that reading the Bible is the only way to be a “good” Christian, nor do I want it to seem like I’m lecturing you. I am not.  I am just trying to raise awareness of the impact this trend away from the study of Scripture could have on future generations and on the future of the church. It will likely be devastating. Pray now. Pray daily. Read your Bible. 

Megan Rawlings

Megan Rawlings is the founder and CEO of The Bold Movement. She is an extrovert, pastor’s wife, and lover of the Scriptures.

1 Comment

  1. Betty Parriott

    Thank you, Megan. I had not heard those statistics but that would explain what we are seeing and hearing in our world today.
    We must keep praying and reaching out with the TRUTH in God’s Word.
    Betty Parriott

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