As published on faithwire.com
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The study, undertaken by Lifeway Research, found that just a third of Americans who attend a Protestant church regularly (32%) say they read the Bible personally every day. Roughly a quarter (27%) said they read it a few times a week.
The latest study also noted that churchgoers aged 50 to 64 are more likely to say they read the Bible every day (35%), with younger people less likely to flick through the pages of scripture.
So why are so few prioritizing daily Bible reading?
Well, author and church leader, Tim Challies, has a few ideas — namely, that Christians want to increase their desire and time given to reading their Bible, but struggle to do so for a plethora of reasons.
“I suspect nearly 100 percent of the people who took part in the study and who attend my church believe they are supposed to be reading the Bible through the week and that they feel some guilt that they are not doing so,” the commentator wrote at his website.
“Also, nearly 100 percent have the level of literacy and the access to resources that would make it possible. The issue is not ignorance, personal expectation, or raw ability, but commitment. People simply do not do what they believe they ought to do and, on one level, actually want to do.”
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As such, and with this study’s shocking results in mind, Challies advises that church leaders should not assume their flock is in the word of God throughout the week — then, ministers should present their congregants with the scriptures, time and time again.
“Give the congregation lots of Bible in your worship services,” Challies implored. “From beginning to end, from call to worship to benediction, soak your people in the Word.”
“Open with scripture, read scripture, confess sin through scripture, provide assurance of pardon through scripture, pray scripture, preach scripture, sing scripture, and send people on their way with scripture,” Tim added.
Leave out guilt and shame
Christians, just like anyone else, lead busy lives. Kids, jobs, even church commitments — all these things can make it difficult to find time to spend in the word. But you can bet that most believers already feel bad about this reality. Therefore, the worst thing you can do as a pastor is to cause your people to feel even worse about their lack of spiritual discipline! Challenge? Yes. But be sure not to shame your congregation.
“It is far better, I think, to model the centrality of the Word in the worship services and in your own life, then to call for a similar centrality in their family and personal lives,” Challies urged. “Instead of badgering people with their lack of commitment, impress them with the joy of being in the Bible.”