Western Christians’ reading crisis

By September 1, 2016

USA (MNN) — When was the last time you picked up your Bible and spent time reading more than a couple of verses? If it’s been a while, you’re not alone.

An unfamiliar crisis

Today, the average American adult’s attention span lasts for about 12 minutes. But, this isn’t a long enough time to really suck the marrow of life from Scripture’s bones. Chief Executive Officer at Biblica, Carl Moeller shares some insight.

(Photo Courtesy Biblica via Facebook)

(Photo courtesy of Biblica via Facebook)

”Christians, just like others in the culture, don’t read as much as they used to. And, this is a real crisis when we as evangelical Christians base our faith on the teachings of God’s Word,” Moeller explains.

“If we’re not reading God’s Word, it’s going to be very difficult for us to understand what He wants from us and how He wants us to live.”

There are Christians living without religious freedom, striving to memorize entire books of the Bible. Yet, some of us with religious freedom struggle to open ours. As Western Christians, have we lost, to some extent, what it means to live for Christ? To seek Him above all things in the midst of our busy, rushing, stressful days? Have we become a Martha instead of a Mary?


This cultural lack of attention, combined with the lost zeal to dig into Scripture, can have dire consequences on Western Christians and the spread of the Gospel.

“So I think one of the implications is the Church becomes less equipped to understand what the faith is all about. And another implication is we become less equipped to be able to communicate what the faith is really all about,” Moeller says.

“So, the more we read Scripture, the more we can understand what we really believe, and communicate that. But even more importantly, we don’t allow God’s voice to speak deeply to our souls [when we’re not buried in His Word].”

Why reading is important

Reading more than only a few verses at a time is important. Otherwise it’s hard to extract the richer context. As Moeller says, a richer context doesn’t always refer to a deeper explanation. It can be the basic meaning of Scripture that’s missed for lack of studying an entire passage.

(Photo Courtesy: Biblica via Facebook)

(Photo courtesy of Biblica via Facebook)

As Christians, we need to be able to recall full Scriptures, the redemption story, and the Bible’s full frame. That’s hard to do if Christians are only familiar with a few verses here and there.

Without the full story, how can anyone live according to Christ? Without it, the Gospel story, the need for a savior, and God’s love can barely be shared. So how do we remedy this crisis?

Through discipline.

Tips to engage with God’s Word

“It does take a little bit of decisive action on our part, to turn down the noise, to eliminate some distractions, and you can start small,” Moeller explains.

“The intention to better Bible reading doesn’t have to require committing hours a week to Scripture reading, but taking 15-20 minutes at a time, really stretching that attention span out just a little bit, to read a full chapter or maybe even for some of the New Testament books and some of the Old Testament prophets, read a whole book.”

Other ways to help dive into God’s Word include finding a Bible that’s readable. If a New International Version (NIV) translation is easier for you to read than the New King James Version (NKJV), then pick up the NIV.

(Photo courtesy of Biblica)

(Photo courtesy of Biblica)

Also, try rereading a passage. Let God’s Word speak to you instead of trying to always draw meaning out of it yourself. In other words, meditate in what God has written. And, try writing down ideas from Scripture or even copying Scripture for memory retention.

“One thing I know about the Bible is that God wrote it as a love letter to us, and the more we read it, the more we fall in love with the God who loves us first,” Moeller conveys.

So rip open your love letter from God, draw closer to Him, and fall in love with reading His Word.

Pray, too

But also, pray for God’s Word would to sink deep into peoples’ souls. That through the various Bible translations, people would fall in love with God and reading His Word, again.

Also, please pray for Biblica’s work in bringing God’s Word to people in languages they understand to continue forward.

“God’s Word is living and active, and it never returns to Him without accomplishing exactly what He intends for it to do. So the more we tell people about that, the more we can be assured that God is working out His will in peoples’ lives that way,” Moeller says.


  • John Adams says:

    Thank you for this very timely article. I am amazed at the lack of Biblical understanding in our churches. Revive your Church, O Lord!

  • Dan says:

    Reading a Bible is like reading a map in the transportation industry. In transportation not knowing the authorized trucking routes lead to loss. One transportation safety consultant likened google mapa to the devil Author doesnt say why there is a crisis. Dare to say that it’s due to the technology at our finger tips that tease us with new things every day. So this is a challenge to become immersed in scripture. It can start by fighting a life with a couple scriptures. Then once righted, indulge yourselves in God’s word as much as possible?

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