Teens and Bible reading

/ 23 June 2004

” Fewer than one-third of all U.S. Protestant teenagers (32 percent) report that they personally read the Bible alone once a week or more often” say researchers with the National Study of Youth and Religion. The study seems to bemoan this statistic. But on the other hand, if 1/3 ARE reading the Bible at least once a week or more, isn’t that a good thing? Church attendance does not make much difference, since “among teens in the Evangelical Lutheran Church in America (ELCA), only 5 percent more of regularly church-attending teens read the Bible weekly or more often than do all ELCA teens (19 percent compared to 14 percent).” The Protestant groups with the largest number of teen Bible readers were the Church of God in Christ (at 48%) and the Assemblies of God (at 44%). I’d be curious to know what the percentage is of teens who read anything at all once a week, and if there is a higher percentage of readers of some other material, what that material is. And, of course, I’d be curious what their engagement with other media is.

I was pondering with my class this morning, the dilemma that youngsters growing up today have multiple sources from which to draw meaninga nd multiple places to go in search of meaning. That suggests that communities of faith can't simply assume that the Bible would be the first place to go to, but rather must find ways to invite people into reading it. My hunch is that movies, music and the web might be more attractive places to begin from, but that's only a hunch. I wonder what the research would show?