Reading the Bible

All scripture is given by inspiration of God, and is profitable for doctrine, for reproof, for correction, for instruction in righteousness.  2 Timothy 3:16

Who reads the Bible?  Would you be surprised that most people do not read the Bible. Sadly no. 

If you do read the Bible, how often do you read it?  More than once a day, once a day, weekly, occasionally?

A survey conducted last year (in Australia) asked young people (13 to 24 year olds) about their Bible reading habits.  Conservatively interpreted, the results showed that around:

  • 4% of young people read the Bible daily
  • 8% read it weekly
  • 15% per read it very occasionally
  • 24% never read the Bible but "believed" in God
  • 49% did not believe in God and therefore never read the Bible
Those that read the Bible daily or weekly also attended church services and youth activities, most also had parents and friends who also attended church frequently.  Certainly when I was attending school I knew no one who read the Bible and I attended an independent school where we had a Christian assembly during the week.

When asked about the "barriers" of reading the Bible, many young people said it was hard to understand, that it had contradictions in it, and did not fit well with their experiences.  When asked about the miracles in the Bible, many found it difficult to believe in miracles.  Only 8% indicated that the "miracles" were definitely true.

The report also looked at why many Australians do not read the Bible:
Apart from the barriers noted above, the simple answer for most young Australians is that it is not something they have ever considered. It is not on their radar. The majority of Australians, and the majority of young people, do not think much about religion at all, and never have.

With declining numbers of Christians in this country, many young people have never had the opportunity of hearing the Word of God which is perhaps why it isn't in their "radar".  If their  parents don't believe, where is the child going to hear about God - or even see or read a Bible - its highly unlike that many homes in Australia even contain Bibles.  The graph below shows what students consider as influences on their lives (rated out of 10). Interesting. If families plays such a critical role and most are not Christian, the results speak for themselves.

The other interesting thought, with increasing numbers of Christian children being home schooled (even thought still quite small), they have less opportunity of mixing with non Christian children and perhaps witnessing to them.  So these non-Christian children have even less opportunity to hear about the Bible.

There hasn't been a recent survey on adult Bible reading habits .


  1. The word is truly daily bread to my soul, I feel starved if I miss it! Even though my children are homeschooled they have had lot's of opportunities to share their faith and pray over others for healing and have also witnessed many miracles of healing!

    It takes alot of learning to accept you will be persecuted for your faith and I think that is what stops young ones from stepping out and sharing their faith. Just a few of my thoughts! I certainly don't believe that less kids will be told about Jesus because of homeschooled children. xxx

  2. Sarah, that is wonderful to hear that your children have had the opportunity to make a difference. Sadly so few children know or grow to love the Lord these days.

  3. It's an interesting point you raise about homeschooled children not being in the schools to tell others about the Lord. I guess the question remains as to whether all Christian children who DO go to school tell others about their faith anyway?? I mean did you, did I, did every Christian kid you know? Here in Australia, talking about your beliefs isn't a real common thing and not so widely accepted - I think a lot of people are embarrassed to talk about it or something anyway...
    I think having Scripture still in many schools means that lots of kids have heard *something*... Some of the ladies in our church group teach Scriptures in schools here in our town and other nearby schools, and the schools are actually BEGGING them to keep coming back to teach Scripture next year because of the impact it has had on the kids - the kids love the Scripture classes!

    I think at this point the number of homeschooled kids from Christian homes is probably small enough that it doesn't make a lot of difference anyway - besides the fact that quite a few kids from those homes would be going to Christian schools anyway, if they did go to school!

    You are right that very few children know the Lord these days - which means that less and less people are being converted in our country because it is far easier for a child to understand salvation than an adult. But on the other hand I do think Christianity is growing in some other countries (like China) by leaps and bounds because of the persecution. If countries like Australia, America etc had persecution, it might change things a lot (not that I'm asking for persecution, don't get me wrong! Life here is just too good, too easy and apathy abounds because of that!).

    Very interesting topic, Jo! :)

  4. God is definitely telling me to get back in the Word today! I'm going to start listening to my Bible Cd's again every night, starting tonight, all night long.

  5. Clara - I kept my Christianity a secret, back to "not wanting to be different thing". And not wanting to be embarrassed or laughed at.

    Its wonderful to hear that schools are begging for scripture lessons, not something that is hitting the newspapers - they only follow negative stories. I wonder though if the enthusiasm at primary school translates into high school, as this is when the scripture classes are stopped.

    It is interesting about China - its only when you can't have something, do you realise how precious it is.

  6. On Clara's point. I would imagine that every teacher in my non Christian high school knew I was a Christian since I faced persuction from students and teachers even having to face the head master for my beliefs. Sometimes Clara it's not what you say, but how you live that speaks the loudest.
    Neither going to a christian school, nor home schooling is any guarentee the person is or will be a Christian. Christians are found in all walks of life.

  7. Anonymous :) - assuming you live in Australia too? I would've thought your experience wouldn't be the norm; I'm sorry you had to go through something like that, it sounds horrible. Of course the people I went to school with knew I was different and a Christian too, because of my up-bringing (conservative parents), however that didn't necessarily mean they would know how to be saved because I was often too embarrassed to talk about it or afraid of being laughed at, like Jo mentioned above! I was laughed at and mocked and teased because I was different and I do recall some arguments in High School regarding Christianity, but not to the point of facing the head master/mistress.
    I agree - it doesn't matter where you are schooled in the end, your salvation depends on a personal relationship with God and conviction of your sin... We choose to homeschool not because we think that will guarantee anything with our children but because we believe that is our responsibility as parents.
    You are right - Christians are found in all walks of life. :)

  8. We have not yet decided whether we will homeschool, but we do believe our responsibility towards Sarah and any more children God gives us is first to seek THEIR good, "bringing them up in the nurture and admonition of the Lord". Just as God commanded His people Israel not to sacrifice their children to Him, so we believe as parents we should make decisions about our children's education based on what is best for them - not offer them to the Lord as child-evangelists, if it might harm them. We would only send our child(ren) to a public school if we believed it was the best thing for them, or if circumstances made it the only practical or affordable option - Stephen & Betsy

  9. Jo - if you don't mind me making another comment...? Dan and I were talking about this subject this afternoon, and we came to a conclusion that sending children to school to be "child evangelists" (as Betsy mentioned) doesn't seem like a good idea. In the Bible we see the Lord sending His disciples out to preach the Gospel, and we see the Lord gathering the children close to Himself, and we think that is significant to remember. Children do not have maturity, they HAVE to be 'babes in Christ' (if they are saved) because they don't have the benefit of years behind them, and just like we wouldn't sit a baby in the middle of a highway and tell it to deal with the onslaught of whatever life might throw at them, so we think it should be with children - even if they are older children, they really can only still be babes in Christ, hardly ready to face the fierce onslaught of the world and sin and the devil, and stand strong in the face of temptation and peer pressure - especially as we see society and young people and schools deteriorating more and more as the years go by. Yes, children from unbelieving backgrounds still need to hear the Good News... but remember, the Lord sent the disciples (who I would assume were all adults) out to preach... and so it should be up to us as adults to take the Gospel out to the children in the public schools and other places - not to send our children out to do it.... Just a few thoughts from our ponderings :)

  10. Take this all with a pinch of salt, please as I'm not a parent. Personally, I'm very glad that I did go to public schools all throughout my education, because it forced me to live as a witness everyday. Was I perfect at it? No. Did people know that I was a Christian, though? Yes! I had many opportunities to witness to non-believers throughout the years, and I pray that God used me as a part of his plans for some of those people. I feel blessed that God would use me in such a situation. This continued through college. I intentionally chose a public college known to be very tolerant of the whatever goes sort of life style. Because I lived outside of the cultural norm there, I think I stood out, and that such a decision, for me, was good. Living in the world, but being not of the world, is what we are called to do, yes?

    In contrast, my best girlfriend went to a Christian college where everyone was just like her. She later admitted to me that felt very unprepared to live in the real, sinful world when college was done, as she had been in a bit of the bubble before.

    I'm not saying that I disagree with homeschooling. There are many homeschooling families who make a point of having their families out in the communities where they can serve as witnesses everyday. On the other hand, though, I worry that too many Christian parents are trying to bubble their children away, only to hit a point later in life when the bubble will break, and that child won't know how to defend his/her faith in an unsaved world.

    By the way, as a non-Australian, I was rather shocked to see your statement about scripture lessons being taught in schools. Are these public schools? How can they get away with that? In America such a thing would be considered highly inappropriate, as the school would be offering a defacto endorsement of one religion above another.

  11. Bets and Clara: I was thinking more of children 13+ which is the group covered in the survey, not those in primary school. These teenagers should be looking different, shouldn't be afraid when asked about their Sunday activities to say they went to church etc.. This isn't child-evangelists as such, this is teenagers talking about their lives and families. When asked why they don't go to the movies or can't go to the school disco ...... Scripture classes aren't taught in high school and to be honest, most kids in high school don't know many Christians at all. I know that Caius only knew one or two.

    It is an interesting topic and the homeschooling was just me thinking about it's impact on non christain children/teenagers.

  12. Val, I completely understand where you are coming from. However I was very bad at sharing my faith with others as I didn't want to be laughed at.

    As to scripture classes, yes they still happen in Australia, I am not sure if they are in every school in every state. They are optional and they only occur in primary school (kids aged 5-12). It causes all sorts of problems from time to time due to the separation of church and state (as per the Westminster System of government), however it keeps on happening. Yes, we are referring to public (government schools). The catholic church (amoung other churches) still holds a lot of power in Australia and they lobby hard to keep this.

    However, considering those statistics, we still have very low levels of Bible reading among 13-24 year olds, I wonder how it compares to the USA?

  13. I had no idea they had removed Christian Education from high schools - it still existed when I was in high school... That is over a decade ago now though, (although in some ways it doesn't seem that long!) and things have changed a LOT in that time.

    In my grade at high school I think I only remember there being one other "Christian" (which I didn't know from the way she acted; I only learned she was a "Christian" by accident). However (interestingly) since finishing school and reconnecting with girls in my grade through various means in more recent years, I have discovered that about possibly half a dozen girls... now women... (that I know of) have become Christians of some kind or another as adults - and most of them I had NOTHING to do with at school... (I went to a girls only high school.)

    The high school years are years of incredible amounts of social and peer pressure, I wonder how likely kids are to find the Lord in those years as compared with primary aged kids? It's a very interesting topic.

    I do still think during those years of high school (with that high level of peer pressure etc) that any child who is a Christian is still a babe in Christ and shouldn't HAVE to be the one to evangelize... But I also recognise that if Christian Education is no longer a part of the high school experience, that does make it more difficult for adults to reach a large cross-section of kids in those years. I guess that's where youth groups come in, and where it's such a shame that too many youth groups aren't Bible-based. It's also a shame that not many adults feel led to get out there and evangelise properly like they did in other times and eras.

  14. Jo,

    I'm sure young Austrailans are not the only ones who do not find God and his word, the bible, to very important or "exciting." It's a sobering survey that I feel many (myself included) need to take seriously.


    -Lady Rose


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