LifeWay Study on Bible Reading 'Disheartening,' Says PCUSA Official

An official in the Presbyterian Church (U.S.A.) referred to a study of Protestant churchgoers that said only a few read the Bible daily as "disheartening."

Dr. Charles A Wiley, III, coordinator of the Office of Theology and Worship Presbyterian Mission Agency of PC(USA), told The Christian Post that the study is consistent with PC(USA)'s research.

"It is disheartening. The LifeWay study is consistent with our own Presbyterian research on habits around the reading of scripture," said Wiley. "We Presbyterians have a long history of seeking to take the Bible seriously as disciples of Jesus Christ, a commitment that requires immersion in the text."

Wiley directed CP to a November 2006 study conducted by the PC(USA) Research Services office which involved "a similar study, with very similar results."

Wiley's remarks come in response to a recently released Transformational Discipleship Assessment study by LifeWay Research which surveyed 2,930 respondents who attend a Protestant church service at least once a month.

One finding of the results was that only 19 percent of respondents said they read and study the Bible daily outside of worship, while a near equal percentage said they rarely or never studied the Bible. Thiryt-six percent of respondents said that they either engage the Bible "once a week," "once a month," or "a few times a month."

Scott McConnell, director of LifeWay Research, told The Christian Post in an earlier interview that he felt attributes from the modern American culture influenced the responses.

"Regular Bible engagement is both personal and requires discipline. Neither are popular in Western culture today," said McConnell. "Too many churchgoers want the benefits of salvation without investing in personally knowing Christ and the abundant life He offers."

When asked what he believed was the source of this lack of daily Bible reading among churchgoers, Wiley said that he felt "there are many factors that contribute."

"We have been a leader in contemporary biblical translations, in the writing of commentaries, and a whole host of curriculum resources. One downside of these rich scholarly practices is that sometimes ordinary Presbyterians feel that they are not qualified to read the scriptures," said Wiley.

"This could be a contributing factor, although such scholarship can encourage biblical engagement as well. Many do not see how the scriptures, Old and New Testaments, are relevant to their modern lives. That responsibility falls on the whole church."

For its part in attempting to reverse the trend, Wiley told CP that his denomination has created "many, many pieces that enable folks to engage Scripture."

"One that we're particularly excited about is Feasting on the Word, a commentary series keyed to the texts used in worship that has an accompanying curriculum for all ages," said Wiley.

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