How do we nurture Bible engagement? Are there things we can do to facilitate, encourage and help people grow in the discipline of Bible reading and reflection?
Research presented by Rick Hiemstra and Ed Stetzer at the December 2013 Forum of Bible Agencies – North America meeting in New York identified several factors that promote the growth of Bible engagement.
Hiemstra, Director of Research at the Evangelical Fellowship of Canada, suggests that the findings from the Canadian Bible Engagement Study (yet to be published), reveal that the drivers of Bible engagement are:
- Confidence – What people believe about the reliability and trustworthiness of the Bible, whether or not they feel the Bible is relevant to modern life, and what they think about the uniqueness of its teachings, are important. People with higher levels of confidence read the Bible more frequently.
- Conversation – Whether or not we talk about the Bible with our children, spouses and others is significant. The more we discuss the Bible, the more we read it. The more we read the Bible, the more we discuss it.
- Community – Church service attendance is strongly correlated with Bible engagement. When church attendance falls, so does Bible engagement. When people view the church positively, they are more likely to read the Bible.
According to Stetzer, LifeWay Research, Bible engagement grows when people:
- Confess sin and ask for forgiveness
- Believe in Jesus
- Choose to obey God
- Pray for others who are not Christians
- Read Christian books
- Are mentored by a mature Christian
- Memorize Scripture
- Attend a Bible study/small group or Sunday School class
Bible engagement is intimately tied to relationships (vertically and horizontally). The degree to which people believe in Christ, obey Christ and seek to live for Christ correlates with the degree to which they’ll engage with the Bible. Similarly, the degree to which people connect with a community of faith correlates with the degree to which they will confidently connect with the Bible.
The research also points to the link between Bible engagement and discipleship. To make disciples, we must foster Bible reading and reflection. To encourage Bible reading and reflection, we must work to cultivate disciples.
Have your say. What would you identify as catalysts/mechanisms/means that contribute to Bible engagement?
© Scripture Union Canada 2013