Consistent Scripture engagement and church attendance result in higher spiritual vitality

American Bible Society’s 13th Annual State of the Bible Report Explores How Scripture Engagement and Church Attendance Affect Spiritual Health

American Bible Society today released the fourth chapter of their 13th annual State of the Bible report, which highlights cultural trends in the U.S. regarding spirituality and Scripture engagement. Today’s release introduces a new metric for measuring spiritual health, the Spiritual Vitality Gauge (SVG), along with research connected to the nine “spiritual temperaments” developed by best-selling author Gary Thomas. The first four chapters of State of the Bible 2023 are now available to download at

“Our research shows that millions of Americans feel closest to God outdoors, in nature. God’s great creation still speaks and draws people to him. Understanding how Americans connect to God can help ministry leaders better determine where individuals are in their spiritual journey and how to help them move forward,” said John Farquhar Plake, PhD, American Bible Society’s Chief Ministry Insights and Innovation Officer. “People who are regularly engaging in Scripture and attending church show increased spiritual vitality. We also find a strong example of spiritual health and community ministry in the Black church. In fact, Black Americans lead the way in nearly every measure of holistic spiritual health.”

State of the Bible findings come from a nationally representative survey performed for American Bible Society by NORC at the University of Chicago, using their AmeriSpeak panel. The data came from 2,761 online interviews with American adults in all 50 states and the District of Columbia.

Key findings analyzed in Chapter 4: Spiritual Vitality

  • The more consistent people are in their Scripture engagement and church attendance, the higher their spiritual health. When scored using the Spiritual Vitality Gauge (SVG), self-identified Christians who regularly engage in Scripture and attend church showed higher spiritual vitality scores than those who did not. For example, Scripture Engaged Christians averaged 91/100 on the SVG, while Bible Disengaged Christians averaged 51/100 (page 83). Read more about how Scripture Engagement impacts wellbeing in State of the Bible 2023, Chapter 3.
  • Black Americans lead the way when it comes to spiritual vitality. Evaluation of the Spiritual Vitality Gauge (SVG) among many different demographics reveals that Black Christians score 10% higher than all other Christians. People in this group are 44% more likely to attend church weekly and are 59% more likely to be Scripture Engaged (page 85).
  • Americans who say they connect best with God in nature are less likely to seek him in a church setting. Of the one-third (32%) of Americans who identify themselves as “Naturalists” (connecting best with God in a natural setting), a vast majority (72%) say they “never” or “almost never” attend church.
  • A majority of Scripture Engaged Americans say they connect best with God in a private, personal way. More than 50% of Scripture Engaged Americans say they connect best with God while alone and reading the Bible or praying (“Ascetics,” 32%) or when God quietly touches their hearts and makes them feel like his friend (“Contemplatives,” 24%) (page 81).
  • 13% of Americans do not feel any connection with God. A substantial percentage of Americans indicate they do not identify with any of the nine spiritual temperaments, as they do not connect with God. Of that number, five in eight (62%) are male (page 68).

Between August and December 2023, American Bible Society will release five new chapters in the State of the Bible story, including Gen Z perspectives on the Bible, faith, and church; the impact of emerging technology on Bible engagement habits; and new insights on how the Bible affects philanthropic habits.

To download the first four chapters of State of the Bible 2023, visit

*For descriptions on how Scripture engagement was measured and reported, please see page 35 of the ebook available for download at

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