An American Bible Society report shows that Scripture engagement has fallen during the coronavirus pandemic. According to the 10th annual State of the Bible report, Scripture engagement is directly tied to in-person church participation.
“Faith communities have demonstrated incredible resilience, innovation and empathy through the pandemic. But this survey reveals that a big opportunity still remains for Christian organizations to make an impact on Scripture engagement,” said American Bible Society president and CEO, Robert Briggs.
“Despite nearly every individual in the U.S. having access to the Bible, engagement has decreased. That’s been a consistent trend over the past few years, and the trend has accelerated since January 2020throughout the pandemic. The Church must transition from ‘survival’ mode back into ‘discipleship’ mode, and, yes, that’s going to take even more innovation.”
A 2019 report found that about 35 percent of American adults said they never used the Bible outside of a large church service or mass. In January, that number stayed about the same, but by June 2020, that same number dropped to 31 percent.
Respondents said they found it hard to maintain a study with the Bible during the pandemic as stay-at-home orders and other restrictions closed churches across the nation.
Americans who said they use the Bible daily fell to just one in 10, the lowest number on record during a decade of the State of the Bible report. “This study supports the idea that the Church plays a significant role in benefitting people’s wellbeing and Scripture engagement,” said Dr. John Farquhar Plake, Director of Ministry Intelligence at American Bible Society.
“To increase Scripture engagement, we must increase relational connections with one another through the Church. The pandemic – and now this survey – have shown that when relational church engagement goes up, so does Scripture engagement, but when it goes down, Scripture engagement drops with it. In other words, it’s probably the relationships people have with one another through Church that really make the difference.”
Among other findings, the report found: 1. About 172 million adults are “Bible curious.” 2. In June 2020, more Americans said they were exploring the Bible for the first time than they did in January 2020. 3. Americans who have been personally impacted by the coronavirus are more likely to read the Bible.
The first four chapters of the report are available at sotb.research.bible