A lack of self-discipline, distraction and busyness have been identified by Christians as the top barriers to reading the Bible.

The 2017 Bible Engagement Survey conducted by the Bible Society of New Zealand and Nielsen was instigated to help church leaders understand more about the relationship New Zealanders have with the Bible.

This survey was conducted by Nielsen in February through the SSI online survey panel and was answered by 1208 people over 13 years of age. The results are weighted by age, gender and region to be representative of the New Zealand population.

Cardinal John Dew, Bible Society New Zealand President, said the research is “fascinating” and shows the interest people have in the Bible and why they are attracted to it.

“I found particularly interesting the various reasons people gave, which are barriers, to reading the Bible. Often those barriers are because people are too busy, get distracted or lack self-discipline.

“ I wonder if it is not just ‘reading’ the Bible, but encouraging people to read it reflectively, to pray with the words of the Scriptures, to hear the invitation ‘Be still
and know that I am God’ (Psalm 46:10), said Cardinal Dew.

“People would find doing this lifegiving, inspiring, challenging, comforting and consoling. Our challenge is to inspire and assist one another to pray with the Word of God,” he said.

The survey revealed the top barriers to Bible reading for Christians as a lack of self-discipline (28 per cent), being distracted by other activities (26 per cent) and being too busy (24 per cent).

Respondents were also asked what they thought the main message of the Bible is. Aside from those that answered “Don’t know”, the strong impression from the general population is that the Bible points to the Golden Rule, “Do to others as you would have them do to you”, (Luke 6:31). In fact, some young people quoted the verse directly from the Bible.

Another finding was nearly three out of five New Zealanders over 13 years old own a Bible and 7 per cent read the Bible every day. A further 5 per cent read the Bible weekly, meaning more than one in ten New Zealanders over 13 read the Bible every week.

Teenagers (13-18) are more likely than those aged 19-64 to read the Bible and attend church regularly. Those aged 1924 are significantly different to all other age groups in many areas of the survey.

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