In 2008, research conducted on behalf of the Bible Society asked church leaders and ordinary church-goers (i.e. non-leaders) from across England and Wales about their atittudes towards the Bible.
The main findings, as summarised on the Evangelical Alliance’s Slip Stream web site, are as follows:-
- 98% of church leaders believe the Bible is divinely inspired and 47% think that is free from errors.
- 90% of leaders say that the Bible actively challenges them to live in a way which runs counter to the present culture in Britain
- 76% leaders associate Bible poverty with “our own land where the Bible is no longer at the centre of public and family life” and 90% think that the church should work towards a society that takes the Bible more seriously. 89% also said they think that the church should work harder to promote biblical principles across society.
- 73% of leaders surveyed said they use the Bible “frequently” for preaching and teaching and 87% said that the Bible is regularly taught at their churches.
- 57% believe the Bible should shape their daily lives “a great deal”
- 35% said they read the Bible everyday
- 73% said the Bible actively challenges them to live in a way which runs counter to the present culture in Britain
- 60% believe the Bible provides moral guidance, sets out God’s rescue plan for humanity and shows God’s priorities
- 78% believe the Bible is divinely inspired and 34% believe that it is free from error
And here is the Bible Society’s own summary analysis of the views expressed by ordinary church-goers (i.e. non-leaders):-
Christians feel that the Bible and Christian morals are increasingly disappearing from public life and would like the Church to take a more active role in promoting their relevance in society. They feel that outside the Christian community, the Bible is regarded as a difficult, ancient text which is afforded little relevance to modern life.
Respondents feel the Church and Church leaders should take a more active role in making the Church visible in public life. They feel Christian arguments have largely disappeared from public debate, and would like to see strong Church leaders who engage with the issues people are concerned by.
Congregation members also feel that there is scope for improving the role the Bible plays in Church services. Many feel their understanding of the passages read by preachers during sermons would increase if preachers were better at contextualising the material and providing them with examples of how it is relevant to their lives and how they can apply biblical principles to the problems they face.
Respondents define their spiritual growth in terms of how their understanding and ability to live by biblical principles increases. They regard the process as both personal and collective; indeed many said the fellowship of other Christians is very important to their spiritual development. Being held to account by other congregation members is important to many in measuring their progress.
Christians want to learn how to apply the Bible to their daily lives and to better see how it is relevant through the resources they use. There seems to be a thirst for modern, easily accessible resources that do not lose sight of the original text or of God, but that approach the Bible in a way that Christians feel they can relate to themselves…
There is a great potential to develop online resources. Christians are becoming increasingly IT-literate, and online formats (e.g. podcasts) suit busy modern lifestyles. They would also welcome better guidance on which material available over the internet is suitable for their purposes, as they often feel confused by the plethora of material out there.
Resources targeted at specific denominations would also be welcomed by some, as there can be great variations to the presentational formats each group prefer. Similarly, as the Old Testament is regarded as particularly difficult to engage with, Christians would appreciate resources that help them see more clearly how it is relevant to the New Testament.
- 68% say the Bible is regularly taught at their church