What we say and what we do, don’t always seem to line up. While 66% of churchgoers say they want to “honour Jesus in all I do” only 11% read the Bible daily – this according to the October 2011 LifeWay Research, Transformational Discipleship Study, of more than 4,000 American and Canadian churchgoers (Evangelical and mainline English, French and Spanish Protestants).
Bible engagement should be intrinsic to being a disciple. “There would be no sense in saying you trusted Jesus if you would not take his advice” C.S. Lewis. In order to learn from Christ and do what He commands, one has to read the Bible. “Faith is good only when it engages truth . . .” A. W. Tozer. Yet 34% of churchgoers rarely or never read the Bible outside of church and just 27% say they read it a few times a week or once a month.
How do we make disciples if people aren’t reading and reflecting on the Scriptures? Alarmingly, most churchgoers don’t feel bad about not connecting with the Bible. A whopping 62% say they don’t feel “unfulfilled” if they “go several days without reading the Bible”.
New Testament disciples were people who increasingly, and with growing intentionality, reflected the character and ministry of Christ. The first century disciples aligned their hearts and lives with Christ, over time looked more and more like Him, and most importantly, reproduced disciples who in turn learnt to be like Christ and do what He did.
In the Western church we seem to be content with calling a person a disciple if they pitch up to church, occasionally volunteer, put something in the offering plate, and do some good things . . . a far cry from the lives and ministries of the first century disciples.
LifeWay’s research reveals that only 3% of churchgoers do Bible study on a daily basis and 53% rarely or never study the Bible. This is hugely disconcerting. If Christians aren’t learning about the life of Christ, how can they become like Christ?
Something’s lost that needs to be found. Do we want to see disciples forged in the character of Christ, exercising the power/authority of Christ, and exuding the grace of Christ? If we do, then our first priority must be to equip and encourage churchgoers to regularly read and reflect on the Scriptures.
Recommended Bible reading resources:
- Scripture Union: theStory™ – http://thestory.scriptureunion.ca/; E100 Challenge – http://www.e100challenge.ca/; Reading Guides for all ages – http://scriptureunion.ca/bible-guides
- Bible Gateway: http://www.biblegateway.com/reading-plans/
© Scripture Union Canada 2013
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