Fostering Bible Literacy in Your Church

By Alison Zeller

The statistics are alarming: the majority of Christians today don’t read the Bible. Notice, that didn’t say “Americans” or “unchurched individuals.” It said Christians. Even among those who attend worship regularly, less than half read the Bible daily.

Have you seen this in your church? How would you rank Bible literacy among your worshippers?

Today’s blog is the first in a series here at CTA that will provide methods to help you improve Bible literacy at your church. Throughout the series, we’ll think about Bible literacy in this way:

“Bible literacy is knowing the content of the Bible, the redemptive story of God, and the future hope he has promised to those who believe in the Gospel of Jesus Christ. Even more than knowing it, is understanding it well enough to live it out and USE it in life.”

Our first method of encouraging Bible literacy is a group Bible study, of sorts, based on the Swedish Method. (You can read a summary here.) The Swedish Method is an unintimidating way for any Christian to read and study the Bible. There are no right or wrong answers. Readers simply respond to these five prompts:

  • The light bulb: What stood out to you in this piece of Scripture?
  • The question mark: What questions did you have while reading the passage?
  • The cross: Where did you see Jesus in this reading?
  • The arrow: How can you put this Word into action in your life?
  • The speech bubble: How might this passage encourage you to share your faith?

You can use this method for small-group, in-person Bible study, but we encourage you to try it in a new way. Have worshippers read a Bible passage and study it, but have them do it on their own. This way, there’s no schedule to organize or pressure to finish in 45 minutes. Worshippers study the passage in their own time, in their own way. Then, they respond to the five prompts listed above, write down their responses, and post them anonymously on a bulletin board at church.

Here’s how to get your congregation started.

  • Consider which part of the Bible you’d like worshippers to study and formulate a plan. You could go through one of the Gospels, create a topical study, or go through the Word in a different way. While planning, keep your goals in mind. The people in your church are not biblical scholars. You want them to read and understand the Bible, grow closer to Jesus, and live out their faith. They will not be writing a PhD dissertation!
  • Get the word out! Include information about your Bible literacy program in your newsletter, on your website, and on social media. Be sure your promotions explain the Swedish Method and direct worshippers to the place where they can post their insights. You might want to provide an example.
  • Start pinning up your responses and encourage the faith leaders of your church to do the same. Encourage people of all ages to get involved. Remind worshippers to read the responses posted to the bulletin board - another worshipper may have pointed out something they missed.

As you begin your program, consider putting copies of CTA’s The Bible: How to Read and Understand It and other quick-read Bible literacy resources on a table near your bulletin board.

Share with us! How do you encourage Bible literacy in your ministry?

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