“To be Christian is to be centered in the God of the Bible,” writes Marcus Borg in The Heart of Christianity. But there are many people in Christian churches who do not know much about the Bible.
Although most Americans consider themselves Christian, many do not know the basic facts fundamental to the faith. Consider these statistics:
- Only 40% of Americans know that Jesus delivered the Sermon on the Mount.
- 40% of American Christians believe that the Book of Mormon, the Koran, and the Bible all express the same spiritual truths.
- Only half of American adults can name any one of the four Gospels.
- Some groups struggle more than others in attaining Bible literacy. Adults under the age of 30 and people who attend small churches express greater difficulties with Bible knowledge than older adults and members of large churches.
There are many reasons offered for biblical illiteracy, ranging from the busy lives of most people to the inadequate teaching methods of the past. In addition, many people in our churches today did not grow up in Christian homes; they have had little or no Biblical education.
How can we help adults become more familiar with the Bible, making them more comfortable delving into the scripture beyond childhood stories? We know the average adult doesn't attend the weekly Bible Study that your church may offer, even if most say they want it offered. In today's world, most adults can't commit to an adult education class or study that lasts more that 4-6 weeks. So why not tackle a book of the Bible or a biblical theme from time to time? Offering a 'course' for a six week time frame is not intimidating to most adults. Using a book or study guide with participants reading a portion each week before gathering for group discussion can open up the scripture in new ways of new and seasoned readers alike.
One particular series that is very accessible to adults, whether they are new to opening up Scripture or have a desire to delve deeper. Conversations with Scripture is a growing collection of short books (under 120 pages each) from the Anglican Association of Biblical Scholars Study Series. Written by a variety of biblical scholars, each book consists of six chapters on a book of the Bible, with a study guide included to accompany each chapter. Useful for individual study, these informative books make excellent resource for group study.
- Revelation by Frederick W. Schmidt
- The Law by Kevin A. Wilson
- The Parables by William Brosend
- The Gospel of John by Cynthia Briggs Kittredge
- Second Isaiah by Stephen L. Cook
- The Gospel of Mark by Marcus J. Borg
- The Gospel of Luke by Frederick W. Schmidt
- The Acts of the Apostles by C. K. Robertson
- The Book of Judges by Roy L. Heller
- Daniel by Edmond F. Desueza and Judith Jones
Teaching and learning are essential to our ability to think and act faithfully as a church from generation to generation. Therefore, being committed to the development and support of an educational program for all ages that cultivates a high level of biblical literacy and theological understanding and nourishes the vital practice of Christian discipleship. And this includes helping adults have a "conversation with scripture."
All statistics cited from are from Barna Research Group Ltd., a biblical research group located in Ventura, California. BRG has been providing information and analysis regarding cultural trends and the Christian Church since 1984.” Barna Research Group, Ltd. (June 14, 2005) defines “small churches” as those with an average weekend attendance of under 100.