On Sunday, Lawson Murray cited research from a study of over 7,000 churches that compared the impact of fifty different spiritual disciplines and activities. The assumption was that lots of church programs and activities were what was most needed to help people grow. But what the survey showed was that Bible reading and reflection is hands down the single greatest determining factor in spiritual growth. If you read the Bible and reflect on it, you will grow in your Christian life. If you don’t, you can do all kinds of other good Christian things, but your faith will languish. And yet a majority of Canadian Christians seldom read the Bible. This week I read about some of the findings of The Canadian Bible Engagement Study. It was interesting to see what factors determine whether people will read the Bible or not.
1. Confidence: The first factor in determining whether a person will read the Bible regularly is their confidence in the Bible as the Word of God and relevant to modern life. Canadians who strongly agree that the Bible is the Word of God are ten times as likely to read the Bible frequently than those who just moderately agree. The same ratio holds true for those who strongly believe the Bible is relevant to modern life. The Bible isn’t just another book. It’s the Word of God and it’s the only thing powerful enough to transform our lives. If you’re struggling to read the Bible, stop and consider whether you really have confidence that it is God’s means of speaking to you today.
- Hebrews 4:12 For the word of God is living and active, sharper than any two-edged sword, piercing to the division of soul and of spirit, of joints and of marrow, and discerning the thoughts and intentions of the heart.
2. Conversation: While Bible reading and reflection is mostly a private act, research shows that we need other people to do it. Having conversations about the Bible outside of worship services is more important than any other factor in helping someone be consistent in their Bible reading. People tell me this all the time. When I ask about times when they have grown the most, people will often tell me about small groups they were a part of. In addition to discussing the Bible itself, in our life group, we take five minutes at the beginning to share in pairs something that we learned from God in our personal Bible reading. There’s something about talking about spiritual truths that creates a hunger for more. If you’re struggling to read the Bible, why not join a group where you can encourage others and be encouraged by them as you talk about how God’s Word relates to your life?
- Hebrews 10:24-25 And let us consider how to stir up one another to love and good works, not neglecting to meet together, as is the habit of some, but encouraging one another, and all the more as you see the Day drawing near.
3. Community: While confidence in the Bible as the Word of God is one of the primary factors in deciding whether someone will read the Bible, not surprisingly, the research showed that church attendance is what fuels a person’s confidence in God’s Word. The assumption is, of course, that you’re attending a church that preaches the Bible as the Word of God. There is power in the body of Christ to strengthen our convictions and shore up our resolve. Despite this, church attendance continues to decline in Canada, and even Christians can let other things get in the way of prioritizing corporate worship. If you’re struggling to read the Bible, is it because you’ve let other things get in the way of meeting for worship with God’s people?
- Acts 2:42 And they devoted themselves to the apostles' teaching and the fellowship, to the breaking of bread and the prayers.
Next Monday, we’ll begin the e100 as a church, a walk through the 100 most important passages in the Bible. The goal is to get in a habit of meeting God through daily reading and reflection. On Sunday, we’ll have copies of The Essential Bible Guide for anyone who wasn’t able to purchase one last week. If you’ve ever thought about joining one of our life groups, this would be a great opportunity to get involved in one.
In awe of Him,