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Canadian Bible Engagement Study

The majority of Canadians seldom or never read the Bible – this according to the recently published (May 1, 2014) Canadian Bible Engagement Study (CBES).

Sad news from the CBES:

  • 55% of Canadians have never read the Bible
  • 50% of Canadians who read the Bible weekly in 1996 no longer do so today
  • 69% of Canadians believe the Bible has irreconcilable contradictions
  • 64% of Canadians believe the Scriptures of the major world religions teach essentially the same thing

Other news from the CBES:

  • 18% of Canadians strongly agree that the Bible is the Word of God (down from 35% in 1996)
  • 21% of Canadian Christians reflect on the meaning of the Bible for their lives at least a few times a week
  • 11% of Canadian Christians talk to others about the Bible outside of religious services
  • Bible reading frequency among Canadian Christians is roughly the same across all age groups
  • 80% of weekly Bible readers strongly agree that the Bible is the Word of God
  • 61% of Evangelical Christians strongly agree that the Bible is relevant to their lives
  • Confidence in, community around and conversations about the Bible helps deepen Bible engagement
  • People who strongly agree that the Bible is the Word of God are six times more likely to attend church weekly

One of the findings of the CBES is that the fate of Bible engagement and church attendance are inextricably linked. Church attendance, like Bible engagement, has been declining for decades (16% of Canadians attend church weekly – down from 27% in 1996).

While the Study hasn’t unearthed anything new, it is a wake up call. Hopefully God’s people will take a good long prayerful look at the state of both Bible engagement and the church in Canada . . .

The Canadian Bible Engagement Study is a must see (check out the engaging video) and a must read (Executive Summary and Full Report). Watch the video and get the free download of the CBES Report at www.bibleengagementstudy.ca

© Scripture Union Canada 2014


Looking Ahead

This is a new year. A new beginning. And things will change. American singer-songwriter, Taylor Swift.

How will cultural and technological changes impact the way people connect with the Bible in the coming year? Here are three “big picture” things to consider:

  • Visualacy – In a ‘visualholic’ culture the strategies or approaches to invite connections with the Bible must deal with the fact that people think mainly in images, not words. Postmoderns need to see in order to know. Dan Kimball says, “Propositions are lost on postmodern ears, but metaphor they will hear; images they will see and understand.” This means that in order to engage this generation with the Bible the informational methodology of modernity (an emphasis on facts and knowledge) should be yoked with incarnational approaches that emphasise interactional, experiential and integrational responses to truth.
  • Relevance – People are more likely to read the Bible if they believe it has application or significance for their lives. In a culture of individualism, consumerism and hedonism people ask, “What’s in it for me?” It’s not enough to simply invite someone to read the Bible – we must extol the benefits of Bible engagement by letting people know that the Scriptures give guidance for daily living, provide a moral/ethical framework for life, set us free from the grip and oppression of sin, and converge our stories with God’s Story.
  • Mediated Communications – Skype, GoToMeeting, Facebook, Linkedin, telephone, e-mail, and such all serve as go-betweens helping connect us with each other. Embodied communications (i.e., in the flesh) happen less frequently than they used to. While mediated communications are extremely helpful, they are limited. The challenge moving forward is finding ways to use mediated communications to full benefit without compromising the importance of embodied communications. That is, every opportunity should be taken to encourage and facilitate connections with the Scriptures via both mediated and embodied communications.

Things are changing and will continue to change. But some things never change: “Your word, O Lord is eternal; it stands firm in the heavens” Psalm 119:89 (NIV).

© Scripture Union Canada 2014

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