Dear Bible Giver,
Research firm Barna just released their 2021 article on Bible Use in America, and it was a largely positive report. During the pandemic, Americans turned to the Bible more frequently than in past years. Consider these findings:
- Those who never use the Bible dropped from 35% to 29%
- Those reading the Bible most days of the week increased from 12% to 16%
- Bible readers increased from 48% to 50% of the population.
Last year we talked about the “Bible Engaged” and “Bible Centered” group, and this group has largely remained the same size. The big jump in daily Bible reading reported above came from the Bible Centered group. Even more encouraging was the shifting perceptions in the middle – the “Bible Neutral” or “Bible Friendly” groups, who are open to the Bible but don’t read it much. This group has grown dramatically.
Here is the big shift going on in America: the Bible Disengaged (those who never or rarely read the Bible, including those who are hostile to the Bible) in America has dropped significantly from 54% as recently as 2018, to 47% in 2019, down to 39% now in 2021. Where did they go? To the Bible Friendly or Bible Neutral groups. A sizeable number of Americans have moved to a more open stance toward the Bible in just a few years! This is significant news for ministries such as IBG.
“Church” has changed a lot during the pandemic. Fewer people are attending in person and yet more people are attending on line. In fact, there are a lot of people out in the neighborhoods attending electronic church who will never walk in the doors of a traditional church building. These people are in your neighborhood and in mine. They may be open to God for the first time in their life. It is a great time to offer a neighborhood Bible study. Would you do this? Many more people are open to the Gospel after a year of disappointment from many man-made institutions. Churches alone cannot engage all of these people, but God’s people, already in the neighborhood can – and in a setting most would be comfortable with. If your neighbor needs a Bible, IBG can supply you.
We look forward to be able to start meeting in person again on June 24. We don’t yet know what the “rules of engagement” will be, and even if we can have a meal, but we will gather. I will speak that night on two topics. First a “state of the Union” on the IBG ministry. For now, just know that we have come through the pandemic well and are eager to resume giving more Bibles to so many ministries that have had to throttle back. The second topic will be a report on IBG’s work with the Persecuted Church. I will be providing a much more significant update than we can publish in the newsletter or post on line due to security concerns, so you will not want to miss that live update!
A significant source of Bible funding has been charitable donations by federal government workers through the Combined Federal Campaign. We just received results of the 2021/22 campaign, and promised giving to IBG has increased over the last year. You can give praise for that. In our ministry to prisoners, we are increasingly able to mail entire cases of Bibles to prison Chaplains. This is a savings in shipping costs for IBG resulting in our ability to buy and place more Bibles in prisons across the country.
As we start gathering again, let us renew our enthusiasm for placing Bibles where there is need, knowing that our own country is opening its heart to God’s Word. Give Hope. Give Life. Give Bibles! CJH