Home Christian News Teens Hold High View of Bible but Don’t Read It Often, Barna...

Teens Hold High View of Bible but Don’t Read It Often, Barna Finds

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DALLAS (BP) — Bryan Loritts, teaching pastor of The Summit Church and a new member of the North American Mission Board’s Send Network leadership team, pinpoints the crux of the latest data release from a global Barna study on how teens embrace the Bible.

“What is it about this book?” Barna quotes a question Loritts posed to Southeastern Baptist Theological Seminary students in a 2013 sermon. “What you and I hold in our hand are the sovereign [exhalations] of a holy God. What makes this book no ordinary book is that this book is breathed out by God. … The quality of our lives is seen in direct proportion to our willingness to submit to this book.”

In volume two of “The Open Generation” survey gauging the identity, values and views of teenagers globally, Barna and its partners in the study address how teens view the Bible.

“Our research shows that teens generally have positive opinions of the Bible, and they’re curious about it,” Barna CEO David Kinnaman said in a press release announcing the data. “Despite these high views, engagement with the Bible remains low, and we see many teens express uncertainty about how Scripture can influence their lives and the world around them.

“Globally, our research shows that teens are motivated to make an impact with their lives, are looking for community and fulfilling relationships, and seeking purpose and direction for their lives,” Kinnaman said. “This research presents areas of opportunity for church leaders to help teens connect their questions to the Bible and the answers it provides.”

While 59 percent of teenagers have a Christian Bible in their home – and 88 percent of those in a language and version they can understand – 41 percent never use a Bible, Barna reported in the study of 13-to 17-year-olds. About 20 percent of teenagers read the Bible at least weekly, Barna said, regardless of their faith affiliation.

Among teenagers who’ve made a personal commitment to follow Jesus, 23 percent read their Bible daily, with most of them reading their Bible at least weekly. Nearly a third, 30 percent, qualify as Bible engaged, defined as those who hold a high view of Scripture and read the Bible several times a week.

Higher rates of Bible engagement equate to a higher application of Jesus’ teachings and a higher incidence of perceived encounters with God’s love. Among those who read the Bible, 39 percent say it motivates them and 38 percent say it makes them feel loved.

Bible engagement correlates with a strong desire and empowerment to make a difference in the world. While 43 percent of teenagers who describe themselves as Christian want others to see Jesus in them, the percentage is nearly double (81 percent) among Christian teens who are Bible engaged.