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Bible Engagement Blog


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Connecting Millennials With The Bible

How can we help Millennials engage with the Bible? It begins with understanding who they are.

Millennials, also known as Generation Y or the Net Generation, are the cohort who reached adulthood around the turn of the 21st Century. While there are various proposed dates for Millennials, the earliest suggested birth date is 1976 and the latest 2004.

Millennials have grown up in a socially networked world, are tolerant of differences, are confident/positive, rely heavily on technology, and are generally optimistic. They can however be prone to entitlement/narcissism and hold unrealistic expectations that sometimes lead to disillusionment. A large percentage of Millennials are politically and religiously unaffiliated. They have more Facebook friends than any other generation, send a median of 50 texts a day, and post the most selfies.

Millennials are also wary of institutional religion, yet more likely than other generations to believe in the existence of a god. They are tolerant regarding sexual orientation, concerned about social justice, and more spiritual than religious.

So what are the practical things we can do to connect Millennials with the Bible? Here are some suggestions:

Demonstrate what works. Millennials want to know what works before they’ll accept it as truth. Exhibit Bible engagement methodologies in action and then invite Millennials to participate.

Start with their life questions. Millennials are more open to engaging with the Scriptures when the Bible engagement approach begins with the questions they’re asking. Recommended resource – Taste and See: An Invitation to Read the Bible.

Offer multiple choices. Millennials are consumers, they expect a range of alternatives. Provide them with a variety of Bible engagement resources, e.g., Lectio Divina, Inductive Bible Study Method, Praying the Bible, Lectio Continua, Bible Journaling, Spoken Word/Slam Poetry, etc.

Make needs based connections. Millennials have a burden for social needs and injustice/compassion issues in our world. Themed Bibles, e.g. God’s Justice, provide a doorway to Bible reading/reflection.

Utilize online resources. Introduce Millennials to YouVersion, Bible Gateway, theStory and other electronic Bible engagement guides, tools, resources.

Cultivate small groups that value transparency, vulnerability and authenticity. Create safe places for radical honesty. When Millennial values are not prioritized, it’s difficult to facilitate meaningful dialogue about the Scriptures.

Apply the Scriptures together. Millennials think in terms of community service and involvement. Link the Scriptures to practical service projects, i.e., give Millenials opportunities to serve and share what’s on their hearts.

Read from printed Bibles. While Millennials are techno-savvy and screen friendly, their preferred format for Bible reading is the book form.

Recognize that Christian Millennials have a high view of Scripture. They believe the Bible is the actual/inspired Word of God, is their greatest source for moral truth, and should hold a high or the highest priority in their life of faith. In contrast, non-Christian Millennials hold ambivalent or extremely negative views about the Bible.

Make connections with the big screen. The majority of Millennials have seen at least one biblically themed movie in the last year.

Post texts on social media. Millennials are more likely than any other generation to post and read scriptures on Twitter, Facebook, and Instagram (more than 80% posted scriptures online in the past year – Barna).

Facilitate the freedom to disagree. Millennials only feel safe to reveal and understand their inner selves when questions, doubts and differences are permissible.

Leverage relationships. We must live out the faith in order for Millennials to relate, i.e., practice and model what the Bible teaches.

How are you connecting Millennials with the Bible or how are you as a Millennial connecting with the Bible? Please comment/share what’s working for you …

© Scripture Union Canada 2017

2 Corinthians 4:5


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American Christian Millennials On Solid Ground

Good news! According to the latest Barna research in the United States (August 2014): “When it comes to the Bible – more than many other areas of their faith – *Millennial Christians are starting off on comparatively solid ground.”BU-102214-info1

The three main findings from the MillennialPollSM are:

  • Christian Millennials hold a high view of Scripture
  • Non-Christian Millennials mainly hold negative views of Scripture
  • Christian Millennials prefer to read the Bible in a printed form

On the whole, Bible reading among Christian Millennials is considered to be one of their highest priorities – ranking it more important than church attendance. It is also ranked as their greatest source for moral truth and they believe it holds everything they need to know in order to live a meaningful life.

Concerning the different mediums for connecting with the Bible, Christian Millennials:

  • are more likely to read a printed version of the Bible
  • like hearing the Bible read publicly at church
  • read multiple online versions of the Bible
  • have probably seen the latest Hollywood Bible-themed film
  • will post and read Scripture texts on social media

So what does this mean? The study concludes by saying: “For the most part, the Bible is flourishing in the screen age, particularly among the faithful. Practicing Christian Millennials, in particular, are eager to see Bible-based content on the big screen and to engage with the Bible on the little screen . . .”

Read the full report of Millennials and the Bible: 3 Surprising Insights at: https://www.barna.org/barna-update/millennials/687-millennials-and-the-bible-3-surprising-insights#.VElaS_NzbIV

*Millennials are the generation born between 1982 and 2002

© Scripture Union Canada 2014


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Passing the Baton

How do we engage young adults with the Bible? Or to phrase the question slightly differently, what can we do to help Millennials (those born between the early 1980’s and early 2000’s) connect  with the Scriptures?

To begin, we can’t continue doing what we used to do. Twenty-first Century young adults don’t think and act like their parents and grandparents. Marketing a cool new youth Bible or promoting a radical Bible reading plan really don’t work anymore. Different approaches and tools are required.

So if the models and paradigms of yesteryear don’t cut it, then what does? How do we create new strategies and resources that will capture young people’s attention and help them engage with the Bible?

Perhaps the first step is knowing that Millennials value authentic relationships, respect personal stories and experiences, prefer non-prescriptive interactive approaches, and enjoy opportunities to grow in understanding through discussion and partnership. They are also suspicious of the institutional church, wary of authorities, and distrust meta-narratives.

If the first step is to understand the core values of Millennials, then the second step is to be aware of how Millennials exist in and are defined by a digital world dominated by technology (unlike their parents who may be digital immigrants, young adults are digital natives). This generation are intrinsically linked to the devices and software they own and use. For many young adults, being offline or unable to interact on social media sites is intolerable!

Building on the first two steps, the third step may be one of advocacy (reestablishing the Bible’s relevance and credibility). Because Millennials distrust metanarratives and view the church with suspicion, their fears need to be allayed. This is a mammoth challenge. Confidence in the Bible has declined over many decades and it will probably take many years of collaborative efforts to reverse the decline.

Closely associated with the need for advocacy is the need to discover new ways to help Millennials read/hear/see/experience the Bible. Before a young adult will use the Bible they have to be exposed to it in ways that are multi-sensory, tie in with their core values, and build relational trust.

Finally, the strategies and resources that are developed to help Millennials engage with the Bible should facilitate the following:

  • online and face to face connexity
  • dialogue, questioning and sharing
  • discovery of truth and meaning
  • sharing of stories and experiences
  • living out the biblical faith

How does this fit with your perspective? Join the discussion. Make a comment.

© Scripture Union Canada 2014


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A Pivotal Point

Bible engagement is at a pivotal point. With the help of smart phones, tablets and other devices the Scriptures are more accessible than ever before. We live in exceptional times. Digital technology provides proximity and unprecedented connectivity to the Bible.

New technologies and social media make it possible to dream about doing things that would have been beyond reach some years ago. Since we crossed over from Gutenberg to Google there are tremendous opportunities to retell the Story in creative new ways. Imagine an online game enabling children or youth to develop avatars, enter a virtual world, and as part of the action, engage with the Scriptures – it’s coming. Imagine the Bible in 3D – it’s coming. Imagine interfacing with a hologram of David as he slots a stone into his sling and begins to run toward Goliath – it’s coming!

Imagine interactive technology prompting you to reflect on the Scriptures daily, tracking your progress and facilitating sharing via social media – it’s come! Scripture Union Canada has developed and published theStory™ – an online Bible reading guide emphasizing the biblical narrative. Features of theStory™ are:

  • connects our stories with God’s Story
  • a chronological plan
  • free sign up at http://thestory.scriptureunion.ca/subscribe
  • unpacks the Bible in 4-5 years
  • the 3R’s methodology
  • trans-denominational and Evangelical
  • global audience
  • geared for millennials
  • suitable for adults of all ages
  • distinctive partnership of writers
  • flexible and shareable format
  • networking and promotional features
  • invites you to “write” yourself into it

theStory™ has just begun but we’re continuing to dream about what we can do to enhance it. What if we added an audio version, film, multiple languages, or provided a blog that enabled subscribers to chat about the biblical reflections with the writers and other readers? What if we could add family, youth, children’s and small group versions of theStory™? What if . . . we could help this generation become the most biblically engaged of all time?

© Scripture Union Canada 2013