New Study Finds Active Participation in the Church Leads to Greater Flourishing
PHILADELPHIA, PA—American Bible Society today released the fourth chapter of their 11th annual State of the Bible report, which highlights cultural trends in the U.S. regarding spirituality and Scripture engagement. Today’s release shows that although society is experiencing anxiety and despair in the wake of the pandemic, people who engage with Scripture develop deep roots of faith and relationship that lead to human flourishing. The first four chapters are currently available to download at StateoftheBible.org.
“The verdict is in: active engagement with the Bible and Christian community is strongly associated with higher levels of both hope and holistic human flourishing,” said John Farquhar Plake, PhD and Director of Ministry Intelligence for American Bible Society. “This is the third State of the Bible study in which we’ve looked closely at the relationship between the Bible, faith, and well-being—the good life. While our nation has struggled with the effects of the pandemic, Americans with deep roots in the Bible and Christian community have been remarkably resilient. In fact, they have flourished. We’re seeing that even when we face the storms of life, an active faith—rooted in the Bible and the Church—guides us toward a better future that’s filled with hope, purpose, and satisfaction.”
The findings come from a survey conducted by American Bible Society in January 2021, in which data was gathered from 3,354 online interviews with American adults in all 50 states and the District of Columbia, with an additional 91 responses from Gen Z youth. For this year’s report, American Bible Society will release nine chapters throughout the year. The fourth chapter, The Good Life, examines how the Bible and an active faith life contribute to human flourishing.
- Hope appears to increase with age. Younger generations are less hopeful about their future than older generations. Boomers and Elders record higher-than-average hope scores, suggesting that older Americans are more likely to feel a sense of control over their own future than younger adults (page 87).
- Hope follows Bible use. Across all other demographics, if someone engages with Scripture on a regular basis, they have more hope and are more able and willing to forgive others. The data suggests that connection to the Bible and Christian community provides hurting people with a bridge to hope and healing (page 90–91).
- Last year, between January and June 2020, mean scores for Harvard University’s measure of holistic human flourishing dropped across every domain for Americans. The most dramatic drops occurred in the domains of “Happiness and Life Satisfaction” and “Financial and Material Stability.” However, these two flourishing items also saw the highest rate of rebound by January 2021 (page 93).
- Scripture engagement has a positive correlation with all six human flourishing domains. In every case, consistent and meaningful interaction with the Bible increases holistic well-being. Consistent Bible engagement may bolster a virtuous life and give ethical stability and feelings of purpose (page 98).
- Holistic well-being is not determined by one’s financial status. Except among America’s lowest income households, there is no relationship between flourishing and income. Conversely, Scripture engagement and church engagement are significant predictors of holistic well-being (page 100).
Between August and December 2021, American Bible Society will release five new chapters in the State of the Bible story, including reports on how Gen Z understands the Bible and faith; views on and use of Scripture among church traditions and denominations; and the relationship between the Bible, money, and generosity.
To download the first four chapters of the State of the Bible 2021 ebook, visit StateoftheBible.org.
*For descriptions on how Scripture engagement was measured and reported, please see page 30 of the ebook available for download at StateoftheBible.org.
About American Bible Society
Since 1816, American Bible Society has been making the Bible available to every person in a language and format each can understand and afford, so all people may experience its life-changing message. One of the nation’s first and most enduring ministries, American Bible Society today advocates for all people to apply the Bible’s teachings to their lives in a way that transforms their relationship with God and others. For free Bible resources or to join the Bible cause, visit AmericanBible.org.
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