New Research: Less Than 20% of Churchgoers Read the Bible Daily

Statistically, you can see a recurring pattern: Bible engagement is directly related to spiritual growth.

While it may be possible to become a “better person” by attending church, it is not true spiritual growth. New life in Christ, the sanctifying work of the Holy Spirit, are regular Bible engagement is evident in the lives of growing believers.

God’s Word is truth, so it should come as no surprise that reading and studying the Bible are still the activities that have the most statistical influence on growth in this attribute of spiritual maturity. As basic as that is, there are still numerous churchgoers who are not reading the Bible regularly. You simply won’t grow if you don’t know God and spend time in God’s Word. Bible reading won’t make you a Christian and you can’t grow without the power of the Spirit, but engaging the word deeply matters.

However, if tangible life changes are statistically related to Bible engagement in the life of a disciple of Christ, why aren’t more reading and studying the Bible?

We’ve released new research as part of the Transformational Discipleship study that shows only 19% of churchgoers personally (not as part of a church worship service) read the Bible every day. That is roughly the same as those who responded “Rarely/Never” (18 percent). A quarter of respondents indicate they read the Bible a few times a week, and 14% say they read the Bible “Once a Week” while another 22 percent say “Once a Month” or “A Few Times a Month.” (Note that “churchgoers” does not mean “born again” or other things– just what is says. We will look at more on that in future research releases.)

From the release (read the full story here):

While the majority of churchgoers desire to honor Christ with their lives and even profess to think on biblical truths, a recent study found few actually engage in personal reading and study of the Scriptures.
“Bible engagement” is one of the eight attributes of discipleship identified in the Transformational Discipleship study conducted by LifeWay Research. The study produced the Transformational Discipleship Assessment, which measures an individual’s spiritual growth in each of these areas of development.

The survey found 90 percent of churchgoers agree “I desire to please and honor Jesus in all I do,” and 59 percent agree with the statement: “Throughout the day I find myself thinking about biblical truths.” While the majority agree with both statements, there is a significant difference in the strength of agreement. Nearly two-thirds of churchgoers (64 percent) strongly agree with the first statement, but only 20 percent strongly agree with the second.

While these stats might seem disheartening, we did identify six things that led to increased Bible engagement:

  1. Confessing wrongdoings to God and asking forgiveness.
  2. Believing in Jesus Christ as the only way to heaven and the number of years one has believed this.
  3. Making a decision to obey or follow God with an awareness that choosing to do so might be costly. Sixty-three percent of churchgoers say they have at least once in the last six months.
  4. Praying for the spiritual status of people they know are not professing Christians.
  5. Reading a book about increasing their spiritual growth. Sixty-one percent of churchgoers say they have in the last year.
  6. Having been discipled or mentored one-on-one by a more spiritually mature Christian.

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These findings on Bible engagement are part of the largest discipleship study of its kind. Results from each of the eight attributes of spiritual maturity will continue to be released over the coming months.

To help pastors, churches and individuals measure spiritual development, LifeWay Research used the study’s data to develop a questionnaire for believers, called theTransformational Discipleship Assessment (TDA). This online evaluation delivers both individual and group reports on spiritual maturity using the eight factors of biblical discipleship. The TDA also provides helpful and practical suggestions on appropriate next steps for spiritual development.

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ABOUT THE AUTHOR

Ed Stetzer

Ed Stetzer

Ed Stetzer, Ph.D., holds the Billy Graham Chair of Church, Mission, and Evangelism at Wheaton College and serves as Executive Director of the Billy Graham Center for Evangelism. He has planted, revitalized, and pastored churches, trained pastors and church planters on six continents, holds two masters degrees and two doctorates, and has written dozens of articles and books. Previously, he served as Executive Director of LifeWay Research. Stetzer is a contributing editor for Christianity Today, a columnist for Outreach Magazine, and is frequently cited or interviewed in news outlets such as USAToday and CNN. He serves as interim pastor of Moody Church in Chicago.

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comment_post_ID); ?> I am a senior citizen who has lived in many areas of the US, the farthest south being Virginia DC area. There are several church plants in the area--some failed, some doing well. One of the sadist failures was a plant in NW Washington near a large Presbyterian Church (I had been an elder in the church, so I knew the area) where changes in church doctrine was driving many away from the PCUSA churches. There were many mature Christians who lived in the area who were very willing to participate and give generously to the church. Its failure was a loss. The pastor and his wife lived in a VA suburb, wanted something that would appeal to their tastes, which included "praise music". There was a professional piano teacher and several people who had sung in choirs in the area. Their suggestions were completely ignored. Forget that there was joyous participation in singing hymns and silence by many for the praise music. The experienced church leaders that were attending were expected to seek the wisdom of the pastor who did not live in the area rather than have any role in leadership. There is another church plant in Northern Virginia that seems to be going the same way. My take: the pastors should get past their high-school and college days culture and get to know and appreciate the people of the community. Do not try to reproduce Intervarsity or Campus Crusade. Hymns are not a sin and "uneducated" (never graduated from college) should not be ignored as uninformed or stupid. People who have served in and/or live in the area are needed in leadership and not just to serve coffee and give. We all need to pray together and serve God in the community in which there is to be a plant. Glenna Hendricks
 
— Glenna Hendricks
 
comment_post_ID); ?> I like it Mac and do agree with your opinions on the matter. Thanks much
 
— winston
 
comment_post_ID); ?> In this era, we have the opportunity of professional church staff today who utilize their gifting to shape the image and atmosphere of the church organization. But the 100% real impact on the church visitors is genuine evidence of changed lives by the gospel and the active growing discipleship (just as it was in the first century church). One demonstration is financially rich believers ministering equally together with poor believers (how odd, and incredibly miraculous; all humble and bow at the foot of the cross.). It is the awesome contrast of church members vocations, race, gender, age, maturity, gifting, humility that demonstrates to visitors "there is a Spirit in the place". That first-time guest list of 10 are "physical excuses", not spiritual excuses. Those don't tell the story. The condition of facilities and publicly greeting people have zero to do with it. The power of God in and through believers lives dedicated to impact other people with their relationship bridge-building of acceptance of the lost around them. Empowered believers are infectious, loving, helpful, giving, self-less, dynamic, compelling, bold, Christ-filled. As I have been in many church settings domestically and internationally, the facilities can be poor, and yet the fellowship can still be rich. We need to operate with first church humility. People come to Christ on His terms, not on our human abilities of hospitality. A huge catastrophe in a community, disaster relief brings lots of people into churches – many come to the church in those terrible conditions no matter the physical condition of the local church. Off the condition of facility, and onto the condition of God's people (living stones).... and everything else will grow.... and the other physical issues will be corrected by the staff.
 
— Russ Wright
 

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