Multigenerational Ministry Requires Multifaceted Tech Approach, American Bible Society Study Finds
State of the Bible 2023 report reveals key differences in how different generations use technology for Bible engagement
American Bible Society today released the seventh chapter of their 13th annual State of the Bible report, which highlights cultural trends in the U.S. regarding spirituality and Scripture engagement. Findings from today’s release include that different generations prefer using different technology for Bible engagement and that those who attend church online read the Bible more than in-person attendees. The first seven chapters of State of the Bible 2023 are now available to download at StateoftheBible.org.
“For years, our research has consistently shown that, by and large, Americans prefer print Bibles. This year, however, we explored the specific technologies Americans are using to supplement their Bible study—and we discovered notable generational differences,” said John Farquhar Plake, PhD, American Bible Society’s Chief Ministry Officer. “One practical application of this finding for ministry leaders looking to engage Gen Z is to recommend Bible apps and to be prepared to answer the top-searched spiritual queries from Google. Sharing a video about the Bible or a podcast link will likely be much less effective. Getting specific in how we deliver ministry to different age cohorts is essential as we look to support and influence our communities for the Lord.”
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.
Bible Use and Technology
- Different generations have different technology preferences when it comes to Scripture engagement. Elders are most likely to use printed Bibles (87%). Boomers, Gen X, and Millennials are most likely to watch a Bible program on video (46/45/45%). Gen X and Millennials are mostly like to listen to a Bible podcast (39/42%) or use an online Bible reading plan (28/42%). And Millennials and Gen Z are those most likely to use a Bible app (64/42%) and to do an Internet search for Bible content (60/64%) (pages 150–151).
- Print Bibles remain the most popular format. When asked how often they used different formats of the Bible, nearly seven of ten Bible Users (69%) said they still used a printed Bible monthly or more frequently. Half of Bible Users (50%) used a digital Bible app in that same time frame (pages 149–151). These figures are comparable to what was reported in 2022.
- Americans who attend church online read the Bible more than those who attend in-person. Nearly three-quarters (74%) of online church attenders say they use the Bible at least once a week outside of church. Contrastingly, weekly Bible use outside of church is claimed by fewer than a third (32%) of those who attend only in person (pages 138–139).
- One quarter of American adults use the Bible at least weekly. About 65 million Americans—or 25% of the population—use the Bible each week outside of church services (pages 135–136).
- One fifth of Black Americans use the Bible every day. Among all races, Black Americans (38%) are far more likely to read the Bible weekly than individuals from other racial backgrounds (all others, 23% combined). Nearly one in five Black Americans (19%) use the Bible every day, again far outpacing those of all other races (8% combined) (page 136).
- More than half of Americans wish they used the Bible more. A majority of Americans (52%) reported wishing they interacted more with Scripture, yet only about one in seven (14%) say they actually increased their Bible use in the past year. The top reasons for why they didn’t were “I never seem to have enough time to use it” (26%) and “I don’t know where to start” (17%) (pages 141–142).
In November and December 2023, American Bible Society will release the final two chapters in the State of the Bible story with new insights on how the Bible affects philanthropic habits and highlights from this year’s research.
To download the first seven chapters of State of the Bible 2023, visit StateoftheBible.org.
*For descriptions on how Scripture engagement was measured and reported, please see page 159 of the ebook available for download at StateoftheBible.org.
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