How to Become Hungry by Eating
There an interesting article by Barna Research from April of this year on Bible engagement, found out: https://www.barna.com/research/state-bible-2017-top-findings/. It’s a survey taken each year over the last 7 or so years to measure how engaged Americans are with the Bible.
Barna defines five categories of engagement: Engaged (engages the Bible four times or more per week and seeing the Bible as God’s Word), Friendly (engages fewer than four times per week and seeing the Bible as God’s Word), Neutral (engages one time a month or fewer and seeing the Bible as inspired but errant), Skeptic (sees the Bible as just another book written by men), and Hostile (sees the Bible as intended to manipulate or control people).
Overall, the numbers don’t change much since 2011. Overall engagement is still low (in my opinion), and there are some good and some bad trends with some of the numbers. The most disturbing results is that the overall number of people never engaging the Bible has increased.
The older people are more engaged than the younger people. But what does that mean? Is that showing that the younger generations are losing interest or that people tend to engage the Bible more as they age?
One observation draws my attention in particular. The people who most want to be more engaged with the Bible are those who are already the most engaged with the Bible. That’s amazing! The more people are engaged with the Bible, the more they want even greater engagement with the Bible. It’s also obviously true that those who most want to read the Bible will be the ones who will read the Bible more. However, reading the Bible more doesn’t seem to result in a lessening desire.
So, perhaps the greatest way to build a deeper hunger for the Bible is to read it already. Rather than trying to build the hunger first and then engaging with the Bible out of that newfound hunger, just get in the habit of reading the Bible, and as many have found, the hunger will grow even more.
Yes, there are times when reading the Bible seems to get us nowhere. The first thing I would do in those cases is to ask if I’m engaging the Bible in the most effective way for how I’m wired? Do I have a clear translation? Am I following someone else’s method, or have I worked on developing my own? Am I picking passages at random or do I follow a plan that connects from day to day? Do I employ writing or sketching or music or otherwise use my particular skills to engage the Bible? Do I read only when I’m sleepy?
What I have seen is that much more often than not, hunger for the Word is best developed by already engaging with it in a way that suits the personality of the person. It’s a little bit like wasabi peas - the more I eat them, the more I want to eat them.