USA (MNN) — San Francisco, California and Waterloo, Iowa are taking their place among the least Bible-minded U.S. cities, according to the latest research from Barna Research Group.
Glenn Pauuw of Biblica says a broader trend is grabbing their attention.
“The biggest challenge, especially here in America, is engagement,” says Paauw. “People are not reading and living the Bible well. Many, many people have access to the Bible but don’t know what to do with it. So, we’re going to go after that issue.”
Biblica’s new Institute for Bible Reading is tackling the engagement challenge by answering two fundamental questions: “What is the Bible?” and “What are we supposed to do with it?”
“We think if you have good answers to those two questions, automatically your connection, your engagement, your absorption of the Bible into your life and living it out–that’s going to be a better thing to do,” Paauw states.
According to a 2008 REVEAL study, 9 in 10 churchgoers say they want help understanding the Bible, yet only 1 in 5 say their church provides in-depth Bible study. Unless this trend is reversed, by 2040, two-thirds of all Americans will have no meaningful relationship with the Bible.
“This current situation is increasingly unacceptable,” says Paauw. “It’s just not right that the Church has a Book that we say is so important to us, but we don’t engage with well. We just can’t keep doing that.”
The new think tank will conduct research, convene forums, provide educational opportunities for churches and ministries, and develop new content and resources for individuals.
“The whole point is that people will connect deeply with the Scriptures. And if that’s not happening, we have to rethink what we’re doing. And, that’s really what this institute is about,” explains Paauw.
“We don’t want to just put another Bible on their shelf. We want to get people deeply into it, and that’s what we’re going to start going after in a big way.”
Biblica has already begun pursuing that goal. Last month, the Biblica Institute for Bible Reading convened its first forum, attended by more than 20 leading scholars in Chicago. Paauw says the leaders gathered to discuss key questions.
“What kind of book is the Bible? What does it mean to say the Bible is the Word of God? How is it the Word of God?” Paauw lists as examples.
Currently, Biblica is processing the leaders’ answers to those questions. Then, the Institute for Bible Reading will use the answers to develop new programs that help churches engage their congregations in Scripture.
“We want to help the Church do a better job of introducing their people into deep and rich Bible experiences,” notes Paauw. “Pray that we would find the right answers to these questions so that we can give real help to the Church.”
To learn how you can get involved in Biblica’s Institute for Bible Reading, contact Biblica and ask to speak with Paauw.
“Anybody who’s vitally interested in that topic, we’d love to hear from them because we’re all ears,” Paauw says.