Cardinal John Dew says the New Zealand Bible Society’s (BSNZ) recent survey is “fascinating”. It shows the interest people have in the Bible and why they are attracted to it.
Dew, who is the New Zealand president of the Bible Society, said he found the various reasons people identified as barriers to reading the Bible particularly interesting.
“Often those barriers are because people are too busy, get distracted or lack self- discipline.
“I wonder if it is not just ‘reading’ the Bible, but encouraging people to read it reflectively, to pray with the words of the Scriptures, to hear the invitation ‘Be still and know that I am God’ (Psalm 46:10),” Dew said.
“People would find doing this life-giving, inspiring, challenging, comforting and consoling. Our challenge is to inspire and assist one another to pray with the Word of God.”
The survey was conducted by Nielsen in February 2017 through the SSI online survey panel. It was answered by 1,208 people over 13 years of age.
The results are weighted by age, gender and region to be representative of the New Zealand population.
The survey revealed the top barriers to Bible reading for Christians as: a lack of self discipline (28%); being distracted by other activities (26%); and being too busy (24%).
Respondents were asked what they thought the main message of the Bible is.
Aside from those that answered ‘Don’t know’, the strong impression from the general population is that the Bible points to the Golden Rule, “Do to others as you would have them do to you,” (Luke 6:31). In fact, some young people quoted the verse directly from the Bible.
Another interesting research finding was nearly three out of five New Zealanders over 13 years old own a Bible and 7% read the Bible every day.
A further 5% read the Bible weekly. This means more than one in 10 New Zealanders over the age of 13 read the Bible every week.
Teenagers (13-18) are more likely than those aged 19-64 to read the Bible and attend church regularly. Those aged 19-24 are significantly different to all other age groups in many areas of the survey.
The research is part of Bible Society’s Good for Life initiative which aims to encourage and equip Christians to read the Bible. Good for Life resources and information can be found on the Good for Life website www.goodforlife.nz . The survey can be ordered for free at, www.biblemonth.nz .