Tag Archives: Karen Engle

Has Bible Engagement during Coronavirus Increased or Decreased?

When coronavirus hit, churches scrambled. Those that weren’t online figured out solutions fast, and those that already were online embraced remote church as a new normal. Since then, churches have worked tirelessly to ensure their congregations can continue meeting for weekly services, Bible studies, and the like (albeit online) and that people feel as connected as possible.

And things seem to be working.

Online services and meetings might be going swimmingly, but have faith communities been able to maintain Bible engagement during the coronavirus?

Not so much.

On July 22, American Bible Society and Barna Group released the 10th Annual State of the Bible report, and the information is sobering. Bible engagement has declined amid the coronavirus outbreak, pointing to a clear relationship between Scripture engagement and in-person church participation.

According to American Bible Society president and CEO Robert Briggs, Bible engagement was already experiencing a downward trend. But the July 2020 study revealed that trend has accelerated since January 2020.

Briggs states:

The study shows a direct correlation between increased Scripture engagement and those efforts typically organized by a church, including mentorship programs and small group Bible studies. Church closures due to COVID-19 are, therefore, likely contributing to decreased rates of Scripture engagement.1

But it’s not all bad news. In fact, Briggs sees it as a huge opportunity for Christian organizations to make an impact on Bible engagement.2

What is Bible engagement?

Bible engagement is more than attending church services or even reading the Bible. Dr. Fergus McDonald, past general secretary of National Bible Society and United Bible Societies, says it is

. . . interaction with the biblical text in a way that provides sufficient opportunity for the text to speak for itself by the power of the Holy Spirit, enabling readers and listeners to hear the voice of God and discover for themselves the unique claim Jesus Christ is making upon them.3

It’s the process of diving deep into Scripture, turning verses and passages around in our minds like bingo numbers in a round, metal cage, and letting them drop from our heads to our hearts. By sifting through and processing God’s Word, we come to experience the author in a profoundly personal way.

We come to know God intimately, and through the process, we are changed. And according to the study, this transformation most often occurs when relational church engagement goes up. American Bible Society Director of Ministry Intelligence Dr. John Farquhar Plake says,

“It’s probably the relationships people have with one another through the church that really make the difference.”4

It’s time to reverse the trend

Now more than ever, it’s paramount that churches commit to reversing this downward trend. The Church must

“transition from ‘survival’ mode back into ‘discipleship’ mode,”5

says Briggs.

But in a coronavirus world, discipling people toward this type of engagement with the Word of God and each other will take a bit of innovation.

And Faithlife has the tools to help your church do just that.

Faithlife, the world’s first integrated ministry platform, helps churches shift from disconnected discipleship to a biblically rooted, step-by-step discipleship strategy — whether your church expects to hold in-person gatherings next week or next year. It puts a wealth of biblical resources within reach for your entire congregation, from a Bible study app to devotionals and small group Bible study guides to theology courses.

Bible engagement is critical for growing a healthy congregation in any season and must not be paused because of today’s crisis. The current pandemic might make the task seem daunting — but you don’t have to go at it alone.

*

Notes:

 

  1. ABS News Blog, “American Bible Society Releases 10th Annual State of the Bible Survey,” July 22, 2020.
  2. “State of the Bible Survey,” 2020.
  3. Dr. Fergus Macdonald, Taylor University Center for Scripture Engagement
  4. “State of the Bible Survey,” 2020.
  5. “State of the Bible Survey,” 2020.

 

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12 Verses: Where Is the Promised Land? and 4 Other Questions

In Genesis 12, God promised Abram:

I will make of you a great nation, and I will bless you and make your name great, so that you will be a blessing. I will bless those who bless you, and him who dishonors you I will curse, and in you all the families of the earth shall be blessed. (2–3)

God also promised Abraham a particular piece of real estate. It would be from this land God would make good on his words in Genesis 12, to multiply Abraham’s offspring “as the stars of heaven” and bless all nations of the earth (Gen 26:4).

Here are 12 Bible passages that will help you explore the location of the promised land, when it was first promised in the Bible, to whom it was given and for how long, what piece of property was promised, and who ultimately owns the land.

Where in the Bible is the land first promised to Abraham?

Genesis 12:7
Then the Lord appeared to Abram and said, “To your offspring I will give this land.”

To whom did God confirm his land covenant, in addition to Abraham?

Genesis 26:2–3
And the Lord appeared to [Abraham] and said . . . “Sojourn in this land, and I will be with you and will bless you, for to you and to your offspring* I will give all these lands, and I will establish the oath that I swore to Abraham your father.”

Genesis 28:12–13
And [Jacob] dreamed . . . And behold, the Lord . . . said, “I am the Lord, the God of Abraham your father and the God of Isaac. The land on which you lie I will give to you and to your offspring.”

Genesis 35:9, 11–12
God appeared to Jacob again . . . and God said to him, . . . “The land that I gave to Abraham and Isaac I will give to you, and I will give the land to your offspring.”

Genesis 48:3–4
Jacob said to Joseph, “God Almighty appeared to me at Luz in the land of Canaan and blessed me, and said to me, ‘Behold, I will make you fruitful and multiply you, and I will make of you a company of peoples and will give this land to your offspring after you for an everlasting possession.’”

Genesis 50:24
Joseph said to his brothers, “I am about to die, but God will visit you and bring you up out of this land to the land that he swore to Abraham, to Isaac, and to Jacob.”

Where is the promised land?

Genesis 15:18
On that day the Lord made a covenant with Abram, saying, “To your offspring I give this land, from the river of Egypt to the great river, the river Euphrates, the land of the Kenites, the Kenizzites, the Kadmonites, the Hittites, the Perizzites, the Rephaim, the Amorites, the Canaanites, the Girgashites and the Jebusites.”

Exodus 23:31 (see also Numbers 34:1–12)
And I will set your border from the Red Sea to the Sea of the Philistines, and from the wilderness to the Euphrates, for I will give the inhabitants of the land into your hand, and you shall drive them out before you.

How long did God give the land to Abraham and his descendants?

Genesis 13:15
All the land that you see I will give to you and to your offspring forever.

1 Chronicles 16:14–18
Remember his covenant forever, the word that he commanded, for a thousand generations, the covenant that he made with Abraham, his sworn promise to Isaac, which he confirmed to Jacob as a statute, to Israel as an everlasting covenant, saying, “To you I will give the land of Canaan, as your portion for an inheritance.”

Genesis 17:8
I will give to you and to your offspring after you the land of your sojournings, all the land of Canaan, for an everlasting possession, and I will be their God.

Who owns the land, ultimately?

Leviticus 25:1–2, 23
The Lord spoke to Moses on Mount Sinai, saying, “Speak to the people of Israel and say to them . . . The land shall not be sold in perpetuity, for the land is mine.”

***

*Emphasis is the author’s throughout.

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