PHILADELPHIA (BP) – Scripture engagement improves life in all areas except financial wealth, but Bible use continues to lag behind levels seen before the COVID-19 pandemic, the American Bible Society said in recapping key findings from the 2022 State of the Bible.
“People live better lives when they engage with the Bible – reading it frequently, applying its teachings to their decisions, and making it central to their faith,” the ABS said. “Personally, they experience less stress, less anxiety, and more hope.”
Respond to the drop in Scripture engagement by leveraging a concurrent rise in curiosity about Jesus and the Bible, the ABS suggested Dec. 15 in its final release from the 2022 report.
“Decades ago, Americans were well-versed in the biblical story, whether they believed it or not. Now, for generations who have never heard it, our content is new and fresh,” the ABS said in its release. “So let’s present the Jesus of the Bible with all His surprises. Allow the fresh-from-the-oven aroma of the Bread of Life to waft through our lives and our churches.”
The ABS pointed out in its review:
- Apps increase daily Bible use.
- Scripture engaged people want to be good neighbors
- Gen Z shows high levels of stress, anxiety and depression; but those who are Scripture engaged report fewer symptoms;
- More than two-thirds of people 57 and younger who consider themselves committed Christians don’t attend church at least monthly
- Nearly a third of American adults – 80 million people – regularly share Scripture with others;
- Scripture engaged Christians tend to read entire Bible chapters or stories at one sitting; read Scripture at the same time each day, and follow a reading schedule, plan or program;
- Scripture engaged adults gave an estimated $145 billion in charity in 2021.
The findings open ministry doors, the ABS said, including:
- Targeted outreach to members of Gen Z who are more likely to suffer anxiety, stress and depression from the lingering disruptions of the COVID-19 pandemic;
- Reaching out to non-practicing Christians, listening to their stories and wooing them back to church as applicable;
- Approaching digital technology as a new ministry field, adapting Bible translations to determine the “dynamic equivalence” of the Bible in the digital context.
In its 2022 State of the Bible, the ABS collaborated with the University of Chicago’s National Opinion Research Center to survey a nationally representative group of American adults on topics related to the Bible, faith and the church. The study conducted online via telephone produced 2,598 responses from a representative sample of adults 18 and older in all 50 states and Washington, D.C.
In its 2023 State of the Bible, the ABS will focus on faith in motion, persevering hope, and spiritual vitality and styles, among other topics.
The full 2022 report may be downloaded here.