Bible Reading in America

Each year, Barna conducts an annual State of the Bible survey, in partnership with American Bible Society, to examine behaviors and beliefs about the Bible among U.S. adults. The results this year show that, despite shifting cultural trends, Americans still read the Bible.

Among the study’s findings were the following:

1. Half of Americans Are Bible Users

Overall, about half of Americans are “Bible users”—that is, they engage with the Bible on their own by using, listening to, watching, praying or using Bible text or content in any format (not including use at a church service) at least three to four times a year (48%). Bible use has remained relatively consistent since 2011.

2. Bible Use More Likely Among Boomers, City Dwellers and Southerners

City dwellers (53%) and small town or rural (49%) residents report higher use of the Bible than do adults who reside in the suburbs (42%). Above-average use can also be found among residents of the South (55%), particularly compared to the other regions: the Northeast (42%), the West (44%) and the Midwest (49%). Millennials (47%), Gen X (45%) and Elders (48%) are slightly less likely to use the Bible than Boomers (51%).

3. Two-Thirds of Americans Express Bible Curiosity

Two-thirds of Americans (66%) express at least some curiosity to know more about what the Bible says, including one in three (29%) who express a strong desire. A similar number of adults (63%) are interested in knowing more about who Jesus Christ is.

4. Half of Americans Ponder How the Bible Applies to Life

Just over half of adults who used the Bible in the past week (53%) say they give a lot of thought to how it might apply to their lives. Although the number of those who think deeply about scripture in this way is statistically on par with 2017, it has slipped since 2011 (61%). Those with higher levels of Bible engagement are predictably more likely to say they give a lot of thought to the Bible’s application.

I think these findings offer both encouragement and support for small publishers and indie authors. If you are writing and producing Christian books, then, most likely, your books are helping people understand and apply Biblical principles to their lives.

So, be encouraged. Half of all Americans still read the Bible (at least occasionally) and two-thirds are curious about the Bible. Half who read the Bible ponder how the Bible is applicable to their own lives.

What great information to encourage your marketing efforts. You can use this knowledge in your marketing messages to whet people’s appetite for more information. Use phrases in your marketing that raise people’s curiosity in an area where they already want more information. This will hook their attention. A few examples include:

  • Find out how John’s Gospel can change your life.
  • Are you familiar with the eleventh commandment?
  • Discover what Jesus said about pain and suffering.
  • Did you know that the Bible says…

Of course, you will tailor your own phrases to your subject matter.

It is encouraging to know that people in America are still hungry for God’s word and his message. This means that there is still a demand for Christian books that help people learn and grow and get to know God and his Word better.

Related Posts:
Why Reading the Bible Matters
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It’s All About Hope

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Photo courtesy of Ben White.

Why Reading the Bible Matters

If you are an author or publisher producing Christian books, the Bible is important to you. After all, your books are meant to encourage people on their journey with God, and the ultimate guide for this journey is the Bible.

In fact, no other book has had a greater impact on history than the Bible. No book has sold more copies. The average American household owns four Bibles. However, they usually sit unread on the shelf.

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Studies show that in one generation the number of occasional Bible readers fell by 20 percent—the equivalent of about 700 people per day. In fact, fewer than 20% of Americans read the Bible outside of church. If this trend continues, by 2040 two-thirds of Americans will have no meaningful connection with the Bible.

In an effort to reverse this trend, the Institute for Bible Reading was launched last month on November 15. A team of executives from the Bible publishing industry came together to form the Institute for Bible Reading (IFBR), an organization focused on combating the silent crisis of Bible disengagement. The group is committed to changing the prevailing assumptions and practices around Bible reading, which they claim perpetuate a hyper-individualized and fragmented Bible-reading experience.

IFBR’s mission is to give people tools and frameworks that fundamentally change the way they read the Bible so it can achieve its mission and become the story that defines their lives. The group plans to launch a major campaign to introduce new Bible reading practices for the church soon.

I applaud the efforts of IFBR. The Bible is extremely important book. It is our greatest source of spiritual food. Regular consumption is required to be a healthy growing follower of Christ. As authors and publishers, we need to be regularly feasting on the Word of God in order to be able to feed and provide guidance to others.

If you care about Bible engagement, you should check out the Institute for Bible Reading. It may be a resource that you can offer the people who read your books and are in need of some resources to begin to read and understand God’s Word better.

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A Call to Action with Consequences
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International Day of the Bible

Today is International Day of the Bible.

Sponsored by The National Bible Association, the International Day of the Bible invites people of all ages to pause for a few minutes to read or sing Scripture to express celebration of God’s Word.

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Join me as I observe #BibleCelebration by sharing with you this scripture from 2 Peter 1:3-11. May you be blessed through the reading of it.

His divine power has given us everything we need for a godly life through our knowledge of him who called us by his own glory and goodness. Through these he has given us his very great and precious promises, so that through them you may participate in the divine nature, having escaped the corruption in the world caused by evil desires.

For this very reason, make every effort to add to your faith goodness; and to goodness, knowledge; and to knowledge, self-control; and to self-control, perseverance; and to perseverance, godliness; and to godliness, mutual affection; and to mutual affection, love. For if you possess these qualities in increasing measure, they will keep you from being ineffective and unproductive in your knowledge of our Lord Jesus Christ. But whoever does not have them is nearsighted and blind, forgetting that they have been cleansed from their past sins.

Therefore, my brothers and sisters, make every effort to confirm your calling and election. For if you do these things, you will never stumble, 11 and you will receive a rich welcome into the eternal kingdom of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ.

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Christianity and Book Sales in America
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