Half of USA Churchgoers Admit They Have Confusion Over the Bible

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Learn more about becoming a member of Bible Gateway PlusDespite repeatedly affirming confidence in their personal abilities to explain the Bible’s relevance, a 2020 LifeWay Research study reports 57% of Protestant churchgoers say they find it challenging to make sense of the Bible when they read it on their own. Even so, four in 5 express confidence in their ability to help others who have doubts about the truthfulness of Scripture (81%), difficulty accepting morals taught in the Bible (82%), and confusion over a Bible passage (81%).

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Regardless of how challenging churchgoers regard the Bible, they seem confident they can recognize its relevance to them and help others understand it. Nine in 10 churchgoers (90%) agree they can usually understand how a passage of Scripture can be applied to them.

[Read the Bible Gateway Blog post, Read the Bible in a New Configuration]

“Reading and studying as an individual is important, but we need others to help us think through what we discover,” said Dwayne McCrary of Explore the Bible. “Studying together also allows us to gain insights from others that move us forward in our study as well.”

[Read the Bible Gateway Blog post, Latest Bible-Related Research]

According to the State of the Bible 2020 report, 35% of Americans say they never read the Bible, which is up from 25% at the report’s inception in 2011. Ten percent in nine years. 60% of Americans read the Bible less than five times per year.

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[Read the Bible Gateway Blog post, Extremely Low Percentage of Americans Hold Biblical Worldview: An Interview with George Barna]

According to a 2017 study by LifeWay Research the top two reasons people claimed for their lack of Bible reading were “I don’t prioritize it” and “I don’t have time.”

Christians say the Bible is God’s Word, but a minority spend time reading it every day. The 2019 Discipleship Pathway Assessment study from Nashville-based LifeWay Research found that one-third (32%) of Americans who attend a Protestant church regularly said they read the Bible personally every day. Around one-quarter (27%) said they read it a few times a week.

According to a Pew Research Center survey released Aug. 7 on how the novel coronavirus pandemic has impacted the worship habits of Americans, 90% of all USA Christians are watching TV or movies to cope with the pandemic and 74% are praying, but less than half (42%) are reading the Bible. Most members of the historically Black Protestant tradition (59%) and evangelicals (57%) say they read Scripture at least weekly to help cope with the pandemic, but far fewer mainline Protestants (29%) or Catholics (27%) say this.

“To increase Scripture engagement, we must increase relational connections with one another through the church,” says John Farquhar Plake, director of ministry intelligence, American Bible Society. “The pandemic—and now [the State of the Bible 2020] survey—have shown that when relational church engagement goes up, so does Scripture engagement, but when it goes down, Scripture engagement drops with it.”

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