By Russ Rankin
Standing before nearly 700 attendees at a "Read the Bible for Life" conference, George Guthrie rattled off a series of statistics:
-- 25 million copies of the Bible are sold in the United States annually.
-- Nine out of 10 homes in the U.S. have a Bible.
-- More than 400 million copies of all or part of the Bible are distributed through Bible societies each year.
Despite what would appear to be a Scripture saturation of biblical proportions, the "No. 1 predictor of spiritual maturity [according to a study by LifeWay Research] is reading the Bible on a daily basis [but] only 16 percent of churchgoers read the Bible daily and 25 percent of churchgoers don't read the Bible at all," Guthrie said at the April 15-16 conference at Union University in Jackson, Tenn.
"This means that more than 50 percent of people who come through the doors of our churches on a regular basis only read their Bibles occasionally, perhaps one or two times per month, if at all," Guthrie said. "Even more sobering, only 37 percent of those who attend church regularly say that reading and studying the Bible has made a significant difference in the way they live their lives. Only 37 percent."
This alarming lack of biblical literacy is what led Guthrie to write "Read the Bible for Life: Your Guide to Understanding and Living God's Word," released earlier this year B&H Publishing Group, the trade publishing arm of LifeWay Christian Resources of the Southern Baptist Convention. Guthrie, who serves as Union University's Benjamin W. Perry Professor of Bible, compiled the book as a series of conversations about how to study the Scriptures in a meaningful way.
The Read the Bible for Life book is just the first component of what has become the Read the Bible for Life initiative spearheaded by LifeWay in partnership with Union's R.C. Ryan Center for Biblical Studies. Other components include a nine-week small-group video curriculum and readers' study guide. This fall, LifeWay will release a Holman Christian Standard chronological study Bible in support of the initiative.
Until next time...share the journey and enjoy the ride!