Evangelicals are Bible people. We believe the Bible is God’s Word. We preach the Bible in our churches. We read the Bible in our homes.
At least we used to.
If you examine the results of a recent survey conducted by the Evangelical Fellowship of Canada, you’ll see evidence that things are changing. And not for the better.
In 2013, the Evangelical Fellowship of Canada released the results of the Canadian Bible Engagement Study. This study sought to quantify the percentage of Canadians who engage meaningfully with the Bible by reading it, reflecting on it and discussing it with others.
“The percentage of frequent Bible readers has dropped significantly in the last two decades, for the general population and for Christians. In 1996, 21% of Canadians reported reading the Bible at least weekly, compared to 11% in 2013. Among Christians, the percentage of those who read at least weekly fell from 27% in 1996 to 14% in 2013.” (Canadian Bible Engagement Survey Report, page 9).
Not only has the percentage of Christians who read the Bible weekly tumbled by half in the past two decades, a large number of Evangelicals (36%) now admit to reading the Bible “seldom” or “never” (CBES Report, page 10).
I remember my dad telling the congregation he pastored, “Seven days without the Bible makes one weak.” As a kid, I thought that saying was pretty amusing. Now I see it as painfully accurate.
Christians who have a deficient diet of God’s Word inevitably become anemic and malnourished. They lack the vitality they need to stay spiritually healthy. They lose the energy they need to sustain a robust ministry.
In future posts, we’ll consider why this disengagement has been happening and what we can do to reverse the downward trend.
But for today, I’d like to ask you to do some self-assessment. How often have you taken time to read and reflect on God’s Word this past week? What is your plan for reading it today? Tomorrow?
I’ll leave you with another of my dad’s favourite sayings about the Bible. He told people that Bibles should only come in one colour. When someone asked “What colour?” he’d smile and say, “Every Bible should be red.” That’s true: Every Bible should be read!