While American culture appears to be constantly evolving, Americans’ love for their Bible is as strong as ever.
Barna’s annual State of the Bible report finds the holy book remains a powerful, transformative tool in their lives.
Barna’s researchers found half of Americans use their Bibles at least three to four times a year. Thirteen percent pick up their Bibles several times a week. They use the Bible for instruction and in their prayer times. Those figures have remained steady since 2011.
Two-thirds of Americans (66 percent) express at least some curiosity to know more about what the Bible says, 63 percent are interested in knowing more about who Jesus Christ is, the survey said. “Just over half of adults who used the Bible in the past week (53 percent) 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 percent). Those with higher levels of Bible engagement are predictably more likely to say they give a lot of thought to the Bible’s application.
The majority use what they learn to grow spiritually. More than half of monthly Bible users report that “reading the Bible has resulted in a self-perceived willingness to engage in their faith more (56 percent) and to show more loving behavior toward others (54 percent).”
Two out of five Bible users (42 percent) report they are “more generous with their time, energy or financial resources” as a result of their time with the Scriptures.
There is also an internal benefit for the respondents. More than half of Bible users (57 percent) contend that when they use the Bible, they have a greater awareness of how much they need God all of the time. Slightly less than half experience a curiosity to know God better (48 percent) and consistently experience a sense of connection with God (47 percent).
Importance of the Bible Tied to Transformation
The survey found one of the greatest impacts, according to respondents, was in the percentage who said they believe the Bible has transformed their lives (58 percent).
Breaking Down Importance of the Bible by Region
Other areas investigated by the Barna researchers were the effects of age, region and technology.
Barna found that city dwellers (53 percent) and small town or rural (49 percent) residents report higher use of the Bible than do adults who reside in the suburbs (42 percent). Above-average use can also be found among residents of the South (55 percent), followed by the Northeast (42 percent), the West (44 percent) and the Midwest (49 percent).
By age, Boomers used the Bible the most (51 percent) and Millennials the least (47 percent). In the middle were Gen X (45 percent) and Elders (48 percent).
The traditional printed word of the Bible remains the favorite, the survey found.
“The appeal of a print version of the Bible remains high at almost nine in 10 who prefer it (89 percent). Little has changed in the preference for a physical copy of the scriptures in the last eight years since tracking began,” the research said.
Technology is a factor, however.
“More than half of users now search for Bible content on the internet (57 percent) or a smartphone, and another 42 percent use a Bible app on their phones. More than one-third listen via podcast or audio version of the Bible,” the survey said.