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Part of a Larger Problem

Bible illiteracy isn't an isolated problem, though; it's part of a larger pattern of low spiritual engagement that must be addressed. They are all related.

Simply put, we have a biblical literacy deficit in part because we have a spiritual maturity deficit. Plenty of research shows the correlation between spiritual maturity and reading the Bible. If you want spiritually mature Christians, get them reading the Bible. That's a statistical fact, but more importantly, it's a biblical truth.

Most Christians desire maturity. Our research shows 90 percent of churchgoers agree with the statement, "I desire to please and honor Jesus in all I do." Almost 60 percent agree with, "Throughout the day I find myself thinking about biblical truths." Most of us desire to please Jesus, but few of us bother to check with the Bible to find out what actually pleases Jesus.

Reading and studying the Bible are still the activities that have the most impact on growth in this area of spiritual maturity. As basic as that is, there are still numerous churchgoers who aren't reading the Bible regularly. You simply won't grow if you don't know God and spend time in His Word.

So, yes, Bible illiteracy is a big problem. But Bible engagement is a key part of the solution.

It's All About Engagement

The bottom line is that too many Christians are simply not reading and studying their Bibles. This goes beyond simple trivia questions aimed at revealing how few facts we know about our Bibles. American evangelicals increasingly lack a spiritual depth. Our lives betray a lack of Christian character. We don't seem to be very Christlike to a watching world. So what do we do about it?

There are several things we can do to reverse biblical illiteracy here in America. At LifeWay Research, we define Bible engagement as "allowing God, through His Word, to lead and change an individual's life—one's direction, thinking and actions." When we compiled all the data from our most recent study on Bible engagement, we found this maxim to be true: Engaging the Bible impacts one's spiritual maturity more than any other discipleship attribute. In fact, "reading the Bible" topped our list of things we found impacting spiritual maturity (followed by such things as praying for unbelievers, confessing sins and asking God for forgiveness, and witnessing to an unbeliever).

With research showing Bible engagement being so important to life change and spiritual maturity, is there any doubt our failure to read our Bibles impacts everything? The Holy Spirit works though the Scriptures, leading us to maturity in every area. That can't happen if we are not in the Word.

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