TABLE OF CONTENTS PAGE!
Methodological Report: Survey
5 - 6! !
Methodological Report: Data Collection & Respondents
Methodological Report: Data Processing, Publication & Distribution
9 - 10!!
11 - 12!
13 - 14!
15 - 16!
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What Are The Lessons?
Are We Approaching The Bible As Consumers?
20 - 21!
Unlock The Bible
Addendum: Ekerk Bible Survey
More About Ekerk Research
This part of the report has the aim of uncovering the applied work procedure and methodology of research. The full study was compiled empirically insofar as the data was verifiable and objectively collected. Some rigorous scientific and academic components was omitted in order to make provision for a more representative, understandable and topical and current report. SURVEY The survey was composed by Mynhardt van Pletsen and Pierre Engelbrecht, under supervision of and with input from Prof Stephan Joubert and Prof Kobus Schoeman (UOVS). The questions were set up to test these four sub-categories: * The demographic identity of the respondent * To which extent the bible is being read * How respondents thinkÂ about the bible * If exposure to the bible leads to any practical deed or behaviour * If respondents will share their experiences with the bible with others, and to what extent The survey consists of 14 multiple choice questions (included herewith), with some opportunities for respondents to give text input.
DATA COLLECTION The survey was made available in both printed and digital formats. Surveys were printed on both sides of a single A5 page, and handed out to respondents at the following events: * Bible schools at local congregations * Church services * Schools Digital surveys were composed on the SurveyMonkey platform, after which the direct link were published on many other platforms, including: * The ekerk.org webpage * Social media platforms, including the ekerk Facebook and Twitter communities * The ekerk weekly email newsletters RESPONDENTS No respondent was withheld from completing the survey, just as no specific respondent was targeted. With single exceptions, the survey was exclusively distributed among both traditional and informal communities of faith, during meetings, in order to measure the views and opinions of ordinary believers. Respondents and communities were not randomly chosen, but the demography is being carefully communicated, in order to give consumers of this report the opportunity to judge for themselves the relevance of the data and the possible applications. After the two-month collection period, 1,404 respondents successfully completed the survey. The combined demographics of all respondents are as follows:
How old are you?
What is your gender?
Are you actively involved with a local congregation?
Where do you live?
DATA PROCESSING 8
The research team processed the raw data, and given the four main groups of reading, thinking, doing and sharing, sorted the data to answer the questions stated at the beginning of this report as thoroughly as possible. The SurveyMonkey electronic platform was used to compile the data and to calculate numbers and percentages correctly. During the data analysis process an effort was made to identify the underlying patterns, trends and tendencies of Bible readers and users. The insights gained through this process in turn served as guidelines for the formulation of specific deficiencies in believersâ€™ Bible-habits. The identification of these gaps was informative, and it enabled the research team to propose some practical applications for local congregations and spiritual leaders, in order to better target believersâ€™ Bible-exposure for more effective life change and spiritual growth. PUBLICATION AND DISTRIBUTION The final text was compiled by the entire research team, and all those involved contributed to the final wording of both the data and its applications. The report was construed to facilitate an easy reading experience, and is published in an electronic format to make it easily downloadable and sharable. The report is also accompanied by a set of infographic illustrations that portray each component of the research simply and understandably. These graphics can also be separately downloaded by users and thus used in the presentation and dissemination of the report. The publication is available on ekerk.org, and will be widely marketed and presented on all ekerkâ€™s electronic communication channels, as well as during any and all ekerk meetups, seminars and other offline events. The report and the graphics are subject to a Creative Commons copyright license, which means that any user can download and use the material free of charge for non-commercial purposes, as long as the character and scope of the report is not changed or adjusted.
SUMMARY OF DATA READING Our understanding of and eventual acting from the bible, start with how often, how correctly and how thoroughly we read the Bible! The research shows that believers read the Bible regularly, with up to 66% of the respondents indicating that they read the Bible daily. 20% of people read the Bible weekly, 2% read only monthly, while 10% and 2% respectively indicated that they read the Bible rarely or never. A predominant majority indicate that they prefer reading the Bible in the evening, while the smallest percentage of people read the Bible at all during the day. Only 2 out of every 100 readers admit they ever read through a whole Bible book or more in one sitting, while most readers prefer keeping busy with a few verses at a time.
THINKING How, when and where we meditate on the Bible has a great influence on whether the Word affects our lives in any way. We see that up to 67% of believers limit their traditional Bible reading or quiet time to 15 minutes or less, with little to no time being set aside for any reflective thoughts or prayers. 25% spend 30 minutes or less in the Word daily, while a minority of 14% ever set aside more than 30 minutes to read and meditate on the Word. On the question whether people read the Bible at home or at any other place, only 5% of respondents indicated that they read the Bible at work, shops, public gathering places or any other place besides home. 95% of all responding believers only read the Bible at home. Concerning the different parts of the Bible, a majority of 67% elect spending time in the New Testament, while the remaining 33 % prefer the Old Testament. However, when respondents can choose between smaller components of the Scriptures, most people â€” up to 47% â€” prefer the texts in Psalms and Proverbs! Furthermore, people mostly prefer reading Paulâ€™s letters (31%), the Gospels (25%), prophetic books (13%), the historical texts (5%), and then finally the legalistic writings (3%).
DOING Itâ€™s when our reading of and meditation on the Bible ultimately influence our behavior and beliefs that the word becomes more than just a study book. Then it becomes a book to live by that truly changes our lives. People generally responded positively to any questions that dealt with the practical application of the Bible. Up to 75% say that the Bible, despite changing times and cultures, is still relevant to their everyday lives. The same amount of respondents also indicated that they will often adjust their own behavior according to Biblical wisdom they encounter and meditate on. It might be that believers would hesitate to admit that the Bible has little to no practical application in their life. Keeping this in mind we take the preceding and subsequent statistics into account in order to measure true life impact.
SHARING If it is true that ‘the mouth speaks what the heart is full of’ then we should see that Bible readers’ changing behavior and shifting beliefs form part of their conversations with friends, family and even colleagues. When asked if they share their experiences in and around the Bible with others, the largest share of respondents answered that they often or sometimes do. Only a third of Bible readers are in the habit of talking about it. People indicated that their own quiet time is the opportunity where they have most contact with the bible (60%). Second most was during church services (40%), then spiritual literature (17%), and then in conversations with friends or family (9%). The place where believers encounter the Bible the least is in the media (7%). It seems that although believers often interact with Scripture, it does not filter through their relationships with other people.
WHAT ARE THE LESSONS?
1. In general, the Bible does not feature in the believers’ day between 8 o’clock in the morning and 5 o’clock in the afternoon. The Bible is isolated to a study book that is read as follows: 1. At home 2. In the evening before we go to sleep 3. Single verses at a time 4. Mainly from Psalms and Proverbs 2. In general, the Bible does not feature in the discussions that believers informally have with family, friends or colleagues. Their bible experiences are inherently: 1. Personal 2. Private 3. Intended for specific predetermined spiritual places and situations 4. Absent in the ordinary course of business If pastors and spiritual leaders want to guide believers in a meaningful and significant relationship with the Scriptures, we will have to pay attention to the above two deficiencies, and together think of ways the Word of God is a book to live by for ordinary people — something that’s not bound to a specific time and place, but that should rather be as central to our earthly existence as the air we breathe.
DO WE APPROACH THE BIBLE AS CONSUMERS?
Consumer mentality can be seen as the self-centered pursuit, socially and economically, of objects merely to build an identity. This is seen in the acquisition of ‘real’ objects such as clothes or cars where a certain status is added to the owner’s identity. What you earn, where you live and what you drive become the only necessities of life and add up to form your identity. If we then consider the question whether we approach the Bible and read it with a consumer mentality, we must first look at the above data: We see first that 66% of respondents read the Bible every day, but mostly in the evening with almost no one reading it during the day. This may indicate that people approach the Bible with the long day behind them in their consciousness. The Bible is therefore approached with my day’s problems and this is the perspective from which we look for answers in the Bible. This in contrast to reading the Bible at the start of the day with the question of how God can use me to impact others in the day ahead, instead of reading for my own gain. The next set of responses show that 67% of people spend 15 minutes or less at a time reading the Bible. It’s very difficult to understand the context of the Bible or the book that you’re reading correctly or completely within these 15 minutes. Then we’re not even considering whether it’s possible to read a whole book of the Bible in that 15 minutes, because the data shows that only two out of 100 people read an entire book of the Bible at a time. This suggests that we quickly approach the Bible each day with a question demanding a quick answer. We approach the Bible like a crash diet where we seek results in a mere 15 minutes. The data indicating that 47% of people prefer reading Psalms and Proverbs, supports this conclusion. The final set of responses deal with how we share what we read in the Bible with others. The data shows us that 60% of respondents encounter the Bible mostly when they read it by themselves. The second most frequent encounter happens during church services. This suggests that the Bible is primarily approached as a personal book, with few believers sharing or discussing their encounters in community with others. We’ve seen that a consumer mentality is the a pursuit of ‘I’. The data shows us that the Bible is approached with the same ‘I’ mentality; what can ‘I’ get out of the Bible? What can the Bible add to ‘me’ and ‘my’ life, during ‘my’ day? And I approach the Bible in ‘my’ own time and when it suits ‘me’. All this while we see that the Bible needs to be read and shared in our community where we will hear God’s call to bring His Kingdom. Thus with a strong focus on community, my “neighbor”.
UNLOCK THE BIBLE Despite all the beautiful church confessions that the Bible is the Word of God, it is cast in concrete on most people’s bedside tables. It has become a life-estranged book for many and has at most “quiet-time status.” No wonder that well-known church researcher, George Barna, writes the following about the role of the Bible at the end of 2009 (Joubert 2012:19): “When people read from the Bible they typically open it, read a brief passage without much regard for the context, and consider the primary thought or feeling that the passage provided. If they are comfortable with it, they accept it; otherwise, they deem it interesting but irrelevant to their life, and move on. There is shockingly little growth evident in people’s understanding of the fundamental themes of the scriptures and amazingly little interest in deepening their knowledge and application of biblical principles.” LOCAL BIBLE SKILLS As far as South Africa is concerned, studies by the Pew Forum on Religion, Afro Barometer, and Ipsos’ “Global Advisory” find that of the 87% of the local people considering themselves Christian, 62% read the Bible with their children, 92% believe the Bible is the Word of God, 78% still believe in miracles, and 73% believe the Bible should be interpreted literally, word for word. Yet these studies further find that “... 88% of people believe that those who live a good life will go to heaven, 67% believe God gives health and wealth to those with enough faith, 42% read the Bible once a week , 54% still bring offerings to ancestor spirits, 52% believe in reincarnation, 47% visit traditional healers, and possibly the most shocking in terms of comparisons considering the general and moral behavior of Christians and non–Christians — the studies detect only a 1.2% difference in general behavior. Despite pretty confessions about the Bible, the rubber sadly does not hit the road with correct ethical behavior by believers. On a day to day basis, there is little discernible difference between the lifestyles of Christians and non–Christians (Joubert 2012:22).”
Pointers for effective “Bible–living”: 1. 2.
The Bible consists of two testaments, with respectively 39 and 27 books, telling God’s salvation plan for his people and his world from different angles. The bulk of the Bible is written in story format. God never speaks in detached verses, but in paragraphs, chapters and books. Verses and chapter divisions were not part of the original writings. Stephen Langton seems to be the first person who inserted the chapter divisions into the Bible, back in the thirteenth century. Robert Stephanus added the verse divisions as late as 1551. From the beginning the Bible was one continuous text. Therefore, the various books of the Bible must be read cover to cover to hear properly what God says in each distinct book. The Bible originated in other cultures and languages than our own. We need to take into account each book’s historical background, otherwise we will misinterpret the Bible. The Bible is also meant for us, but it’s not exclusively meant for us. We’re not the first readers of the Bible. Therefore, we can’t apply all the promises and prophetic pronouncements exclusively to ourselves. Throughout the ages, God spoke to his people through Scripture, like He speaks to us today. The Bible is meant as a book to read and a book to live by. We shouldn’t read it only before bedtime as a mere “quiet time book”. The Bible is meant to be meditated on day and night. It is meant to be eaten and to be part of our daily metabolism. It is meant to travel on the path of life with us in order to be a source of light on our way. The cross of Christ stands as the bridge between the Old Testament and New Testament. Jesus is the full revelation of God. We need read and understand both testaments of the Bible through Him and from his redemptive work on the cross. His death and resurrection are the glasses through which we now look back at God’s First Testament and look ahead at his New Testament. The Bible is the sword of the Spirit. As the true Author He is behind all the human authors. He inspired the Bible, even though all the different writers kept their own unique personality, style and context. Only the Holy Spirit makes the Bible come alive. Through his power of conviction the scales fall from our eyes and we see God. If this was not the case, the Bible would just be letters on paper.
Source: Joubert, S. 2012. Ontsluit die Nuwe Testament. Vereeniging: C.U.M.
MORE ABOUT EKERK RESEARCH
Ekerk research wants to help and assist local communities of faith, as well as spiritual leaders, to better facilitate spiritual growth in themselves and ordinary followers of Jesus. For more about ekerk research, go to english.ekerk.org, or write to firstname.lastname@example.org. Thanks for reading. ÂŠ Ekerk Vereniging 2014