Wycliffe Bible Translators has started a new campaign that seeks to encourage discussion about the Gospel and show that despite statistics suggesting millennials and teenagers are becoming less engaged with God, the Bible still matters greatly in people's lives.
Extensive research, such as Barna's 2016 "State of the Bible" survey, has highlighted that while Americans hold various views on the Bible, one in five teens and one in three millennials believe that the Bible is not divinely inspired. What is more, only 16 percent of millennials would say that the Bible is the actual Word of God.
Scott Everhart, senior director of marketing at Wycliffe Bible Translators, told The Christian Post in an interview about the new campaign, called #WhyBible, that there are many forces at work looking to downplay the Bible's role in people's lives today, such as the "distraction of technology or the social pressures."
"We know the Bible is relevant to modern life, though, and needed now more than ever," Everhart said, explaining the reason for the month-long #WhyBible campaign.
"The goal is to create a forum for testimonies and stories shared about the Bible's incredible impact on individuals, communities and the world."
Everhart told CP that while his organization's mission is to provide access to Scripture for every language group that needs it around the world, there is a big problem if those who already have the Bible are failing to see its importance.
He said that if such people "aren't recognizing its (the Bible's) worth or allowing it to inform their lives, we see that as a devastating issue."
Everhart revealed that the idea behind #WhyBible was born from a millennial member of the Wycliffe Bible Translators team who was sitting in church one Sunday and studying the people around him.
"He realized he was seeing less and less people in attendance who are his own age or in similar walks of life. When we looked into it further, we saw that the research reflects this — a growing number of Christians and especially younger believers are seeing less value in Bible teaching and are apathetic about the Bible's ability to change lives," Everhart explained.
The State of the Bible surveys, along with other research, have for years shown that the percentage of Americans, especially young people, who view the Bible skeptically continues to rise.
Barna's 2016 research, released in May, warned that the rise of skepticism is "creating a cultural atmosphere that is becoming unfriendly — sometimes even hostile — to claims of faith."
The group noted that the percentage of those who believe that the Bible is actually harmful to people's lives has been increasing, and so has society's view that self-fulfillment, rather than God, is the ultimate measure of moral good.
That's why the #WhyBible campaign is inviting people into a conversation, Everhart noted.
"For those walking daily in the Scriptures, it's a chance to be part of a community on social media celebrating how God is speaking to them through his Word," he said.
"For those who may have fallen out of the habit of engaging with Scripture daily, it's a chance to refocus and be reminded how important and beneficial it is. We also hope the testimonies shared will be an encouragement for anyone who might be considering spending time in the Word for the first time."
Wycliffe Bible Translators' senior director of marketing added that young people today face different challenges when it comes to holding onto their faith than previous generations.
"There are a lot of distractions, and a lot of social pressures on young people to downplay the importance of their faith in their lives, but at the end of the day those distractions and pressures come from the same place they have for previous generations," Everhart said.
He elaborated that #WhyBible helps people of all ages connect and share stories, which allows young people to learn from their elders, and vise versa.
Despite the growing numbers of Bible skeptics, Barna's research found that most Americans continue to believe that the Bible has been the most influential text that has affected humanity, and that it contains everything a person needs to know in order to live a meaningful life.
Everhart said that ultimately, the proof that the Bible still matters to people's lives today can be found in the life change that occurs as a result of exposure to God's Word.
"Research shows that one of the greatest challenges is a fundamental one: living with a passion for the Word of God. The best way to change that is to spend time in Scripture, whether that's through personal study or group study," he added.
"#WhyBible is an opportunity for people to share their own stories of transformation, so that others can be encouraged by their testimony and exposed to the power of the Bible."
The #WhyBible website offers free resources to help people re-engage with the Bible, or engage with it for the first time, and encourages people to sign up at wycliffe.org/whybible.
The website adds that the campaign "will only thrive if churches, missions, organizations, campus groups and individuals like you join the global discussion."