If you want to increase giving, increase Bible engagement. That is the conclusion of a recent report by the American Bible Society entitled State of the Bible USA 2022. Their report concluded, “Nearly three of five Scripture Engaged Americans (58%) report giving at the higher level.”1. They defined Scripture Engaged as being “consistent interaction with the Bible that shapes people’s choices and transforms their relationships with God, self, and others.” While that might be good news for churches, the reality is that Scripture engagement, according to the same study, is down by 21%.
Here is a summary of some key findings in State of the Bible USA 2022.
- In every study since 2018, Bible Users have accounted for between 47 and 49 percent of American adults; however, the 2022 data showed a 10-percent decrease from the same time in 2021. That means nearly 26 million Americans reduced or stopped their interaction with Scripture in the past year.
- Beginning in 2020 and accelerating since then, Bible Users have indicated a decreased level of Spiritual Impact from the Bible.
- In 2022, Americans are less likely than ever to say that the Bible is influencing how they live out their faith in relationship to others.
Here is a great summary of their findings, “The data shows us that many Americans are struggling to connect the teaching of the Bible to the ways they live out their faith in community. Wherever American Christians have become disconnected from their faith communities, we must help them find their way back into meaningful relationships and generous service to others.”
The study broke Americans into three categories. The first is Scripture Engaged, defined above. The second category is defined as the Movable Middle. This group is defined as people coming to the Bible for the first time before continuing into the Scripture Engaged category as they connect more deeply with God in the Bible. The study points out that they could also move the other way, their commitment lapsing to the point of disengagement. The final group in the study is described as Bible Disengaged. Sadly, the Bible Disengaged group is the largest in America. And it’s growing daily.
When you look at those labeled Scripture Engaged, you see a vast difference. Consider these facts:
- Scripture Engaged people are far more likely than others to donate to charity. Four out of five report giving, compared to just over half of the Bible Disengaged.
- Scripture Engaged people also give far more money than others. Their estimated amount given in 2021 to all charities, not just churches, was $2,907 per household—more than three times the average of the Bible Disengaged and more than four times that of the Movable Middle.
- We estimate that Scripture Engaged Americans gave $145 billion to charitable causes in 2021. In other words, just 19 percent of U.S. adults are responsible for giving 44 percent of every dollar donated by individuals nationwide. Another way to think about it is that 44 cents of every dollar donated by individuals in America come from someone consistently interacting with the Bible.
- Scripture Engaged people also give more than others to nonchurch charities.
- If we only count donations to non-religious organizations, the difference grows. The Scripture Engaged gave 62 percent more than the Bible Disengaged and nearly four times the amount given by the Movable Middle.
- Driven mostly by their support of the local church, the Scripture Engaged keep 81 percent of their donations close to home.
- Of those who agree with the statement “The Bible has much influence on what I buy,” nearly three of four are givers (73%).
Thus, this study shows that to increase giving, we need more members engaged in the daily reading of God’s Word.
Dr. John Plake, the director of Ministry Intelligence at the American Bible Society and the editor-in-chief of the State of the Bible, sums up their study by saying, “The data shows us that many Americans are struggling to connect the teaching of the Bible to the ways they live out their faith in community. Wherever American Christians have become disconnected from their communities of faith, we must help them find their way back into meaningful relationships and generous service to others.” There is a good biblical word that sums that up, discipleship. If you want to increase stewardship and build a culture of generosity at your church, make disciples.
- American Bible Society. (2022). State of the Bible USA 2022.