A survey has shown that Kiwi young people who read the Bible prefer to do so in a book format. According to Nielsen research commissioned by the Bible Society New Zealand, 87 per cent of youth surveyed prefer the printed word for their Bible engagement.

The figure comes from a survey of 196 respondents in the 13-18 age group who consider themselves Christian and who had read the Bible in the last year.

Catholics made up 22 per cent of the survey group drawn at random from the population and weighted according to census data.

The results showed that 83 per cent of Christian youth own a personal copy of the Bible, with 16 per cent saying that while they don’t personally own one, their family does.

Many read the Bible on smartphones (16 per cent) and tablets (13 per cent), while 13 per cent use a computer to read the Bible and 10 per cent access the Bible through the Internet.

The survey was called “New Zealand’s teen Bible readers — influences, barriers and drives of Bible engagement among New Zealand youth”.

Bible Society chief executive Francis Burdett said the results of the survey overall are encouraging in some areas and concerning in others.

“We discovered high rates of regular Bible reading among the sample group and we found out just how important family members are in teaching them to read it,” Mr Burdett said.

“But we also discovered that some young Bible readers don’t find the Bible encouraging or inspiring.

“And we also found a generation of 18-year-olds who are attending church less and becoming increasingly disillusioned with the Bible — saying the Bible is challenging, overwhelming and
pointless.”

Mr Burdett acknowledged that “the Bible may have been ‘oversold’ simply as a self-help book that has instant answers to our problems”.

“There’s no doubt that many youth will treat the Bible as such.

“But this doesn’t make for stable foundations and can lead to shaky faith when the going gets tough.”

To address some of the challenges thrown up by the survey results, the Bible Society is engaging in a range of projects, such as producing creative resources including a teen guide
to the Bible and training for youth leaders in how to open the Bible creatively with youth.

This is all part of the Bible Society’s “Pass It On” campaign for July’s Bible month.

The survey showed that the most common way for youth to read the Bible is by themselves, with 80 per cent indicating this is the most popular method.

However, reading the Bible with others also features strongly, with 38 per cent reading it with their parents, 8 per cent with their grandparents and 18 per cent with other family members.

Nearly a quarter (23 per cent) read the Bible with their youth pastor and nearly one fifth read it with their Sunday school teacher or pastor.

Some 68 per cent were taught to read the Bible by their parents.

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