What is the disconnect with so many Christians who do not act like Christians? Why do they act the same as folks that don’t come to church? Strikingly, Jesus warns us about being lukewarm in our faith and yet so many people are lukewarm. What can we do about it? What can we do to rewrite this story for ourselves & our children? How can we create a passionate culture in our churches for the benefit of our communities? Bible study four times a week or more -an hour or 2 a week of Bible study a week – could have a profound impact on ourselves and consequently, our world.
Naturally, the ministry of the church is impacted by the lack of transformation. The church will always be full of sinners, that is by design. How can we be better about turning away from sin and living lives that are visibly impacted by the gospel? What proven method exists to create passionate followers of Christ?
The simple, profound key is very accessible to most Christians. Studies show us clearly that Bible study is what makes a difference in people’s lives. More than prayer or worship attendance, the spiritual practice that makes a difference is Bible study. More specifically, Bible study that is engaged in four or more times per week.
The Science Proves It
The Center for Biblical Engagement gathered data from over 40,000 Americans to look at the impact of biblical engagement on people’s lives: their beliefs, their practices, and their faith. Indeed, the scientific analysis of their data is very compelling and provides concrete action items for us to apply to ourselves, to our Christian parenting, and to the discipleship ministries of our churches.
Clearly, it isn’t enough to listen to a sermon on Sunday, go to Sunday School, and maybe attend a mid-week program. Attendance at these opportunities just does not cut it in making the impact that is needed for passionate disciples of Christ.
The research done by the CBE demonstrates that Christians who “read or listen to the Bible at least four days a week” act very differently from those that engage with the Bible less often. In fact, those that “read the Bible at least four times a week are less likely to engage in behaviors such as gambling, pornography, getting drunk, and sex outside of marriage.”
How often do Christians read the Bible?
How many people who identify as born-again Christians read the Bible 4 times or more a week? Unfortunately, not as many as you would think. Of those who reported that they read or listened to the Bible 4 times a week or more: tweens, 25.5%; teens, 37.2%, 18 to 24 yr olds, 29.2%; and adults age 25 & up, 39.2%.
Most surprising? The number of born-again adults who read or listen to the Bible ZERO times per week: tweens, 34.4%; tweens, 17.6%; 18-24 yr olds, 39.1%; and 25 years & up, 29.1%. How can you claim to be born again and have a relationship with Jesus and not read God’s word at least once a week?! [Find this data here.]
Being a Christian= Reading/Listening/Studying your Bible
Impact of Bible Reading on Actions & Thoughts
What impact does reading the Bible four times a week or more have on how you act & think?
The wise folks at CBE made sure to control for factors such as how old people were, what their gender was, how often they went to church, how often they prayed, etc. They found that those who engaged with the Bible four times a week or more were significantly less likely to engage in certain behaviors.
Less likely …
74% less likely to gamble
61 % less likely to view pornography
(They cited a study reporting that half of male church attendees are engaging in pornography! Yikes!)
57% less likely to get drunk
68% less like to have sex outside of marriage
The “Power of 4 Effect” also have profound positive effects. These same folks are:
228% more likely to share faith with others
407% more likely to memorize scripture
And … 30% less likely to struggle with loneliness [This data can be found here.]
Bible Study Impact on Evangelism & Discipleship
Did you catch that?? If you want to grow the evangelistic potential & reach of your church – inspire and train your congregation to study the scripture every day. What an amazing impact with an increase of over 200%! I know of no other evangelism training program or curriculum that would have that profound of an impact on its students.
It makes sense when you think about it. If studying the Bible is valuable and important to you, then you are more likely to share it with others. You will feel more equipped because you will be growing in your knowledge of the Bible. God will have more opportunities to speak to you through the Word.
“Go therefore and make disciples of all nations,
baptizing them in the name of the Father
and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit.”
The Great Commission of the Church is to go forth into all the world and make disciples. We create disciple-makers by discipling and training them to frequently be studying God’s word.
The Power of 4 Effect
“A key discovery from the CBE research is that the life of someone who engages scripture 4 or more times a week looks radically different from the life of someone who does not. In fact, the lives of Christians who do not engage the Bible most days of the week are statistically the same as the lives of non-believers.” http://www.backtothebible.org/research
Simple Truth about Scripture Study
Have you been struck by how something as simple as reading the Bible at least four times a week can make such a difference in the lives of Christians and those around them? I am reminded of the deep wisdom of Romans.
“Do not be conformed to the world, but be transformed by the renewal of your mind, that by testing you may discern what is the will of God, what is good and acceptable and perfect.” Romans 12:2
How do we renew our minds? By filling it with the Word of God!
The Question: How do we get people to study the Bible four times a week?
So, if the research demonstrates so powerfully the impact on Christians who study God’s word four times a week or more, how do we get more Christians to do it? The CBE gathered information on that as well.
There were lots of excuses and barriers given to reading the Bible. Let’s dive into those & make an action plan for them in the next article in this series.
How often do you read your Bible? Two times a week? Three? Can you guess or do you know?
A Bible journal is a great place to hold yourself accountable. I have a dated journal that I use. If I skip a day, the expansive blank page is there to demonstrate the emptiness of the Word in my life for that day. (I just can’t take it. So, the next day – I fill in both pages!)
Will you make a commitment, or new your commitment, to study or listen to the Bible at least four times a week for the next month? I love four times a week because it gives us the grace to miss a day or two and still keep on track for our goal.
May the Word renew you, our churches, and our world.
Fired up and want to apply this? Check out Part 2 in this series.
Explore the “Power of Four” research for yourself here.
Find the Center for Biblical Engagement and their fascinating work here.