According to a survey done by Lifeway, 80% of those who claim to follow Christ don’t read the Bible daily (article here). Another study done by Gallup suggests that only 16% of those who claim to follow Christ read their Bible daily and 41% say they rarely or never read the Bible (article here).
Whether those numbers are completely accurate or a little off, I do not know. I will admit that I’ve always been one to be a little skeptical of the numbers from surveys like these, simply because they can’t poll everyone, so it’s in my mind they can be a little skewed. So every time I read these surveys, I take the number as a general number, understanding it could be a little higher or lower (depending on what they are surveying) than the number they give.
Maybe it’s more like 25% percent that read the Bible daily rather than 16%. Perhaps they were very low and the number is closer to 30%. Either of those numbers, 25% or 30%, look much better than the numbers given by the surveys. But let’s be honest, even though they look better, 25% or 30% is still a very low number when we realize what it means as far as the percentage of those who claim to follow Christ actually reading their Bible daily.
The Gallup survey cited above also says that 21% say they read the Bible weekly, 12% say they read the Bible monthly, and 10% say less than monthly. That is 59% that claim to read their Bible on some level…although when it’s only monthly or less, I have to say that I would put them with those who claim to rarely or never read the Bible, because if you read it that infrequently, the rare occasion that you do read it obviously doesn’t have any impact on you. (I don’t believe we have to read our Bible every single day without fail, or else it means we are a bad Christian. But if it’s once a month at best, then it’s definitely not a priority)
The percentage of those who read it daily or weekly is 37%…that definitely looks better than just 16%. And again, the numbers could be a bit higher than that, so for argument’s sake lets round it up to 40% that read their Bible either daily or weekly…which I will refer to as regularly.
When we begin to take some of those numbers and apply them to people, it helps us better understand how low…and sad…those numbers are.
- If a church has a 100 members and we take the 25% and apply it to that congregation, that means only 25 people in the congregation read their Bible daily. If we take the 40% and apply it to that congregation, that means only 40 people in the congregation read their Bible regularly. That would mean that 60 out of the 100 read the Bible only once a month or less.
- If a church has 450 in attendance, which is the size of my church, that means only 112 people in that congregation read their Bible daily (25%) and 180 people in that congregation read their Bible regularly (40%). That would mean that 270 out of the 450 read the Bible only once a month or less.
- If a church has 1000 in attendance, that would only 250 read their Bible daily and 400 read their Bible regularly. That leaves 600 out of the 1000 who read the Bible once a month or less.
Imagine going to a concert of some kind, like a symphony. You take your seat and on stage you see many musicians with their instruments. The conductor walks out, the crowd applauds, the conductor bows to the audience and then turns to begin the concert. He raises his baton, looks at the orchestra, and begins conducting.
There are 30 people in the orchestra, but only 25% of them have music sheets in front of them, and another 15% have seen and studied the music before hand (40%). The other 60% of the musicians still play their instruments, they just don’t know what they are supposed to play. They do their best to listen to the 40% and following along, but it’s a struggle and the music sounds bad.
Is that a picture of the church today? With so few actually reading their Bible regularly, does the church often look/sound like that orchestra?
How can we follow Christ if we don’t know what he says in his Word? How can we do what he tells us to do and go where he leads us to go if we don’t know what he tells us and don’t know how to discern where he is leading us because we aren’t reading his words?
The answer is, we can’t…not very well anyway. We might know a few basic things because that’s what our parents or our pastor told us, but beyond that we will not be able to follow Christ very well at all.
We can’t change the percentage in the church overall, but we can change our portion of that percentage. If you claim to be a Follower of Christ, then I challenge you to begin making God’s Word a regular part of your life…not just an extra part.