The average household has three Bibles, according to the American Bible Society. But that doesn't mean anyone is reading them.
In fact, if you ask people how often they read the scriptures, they are likely to say very little or not at all.
New research from LifeWay Research reveals that more than half of Americans have read little or none of the Bible.
When asked how much of the Bible they have personally read, less than a quarter of those who have ever read a Bible have a systematic plan for reading the Bible on a daily basis. And a third of Americans never pick it up on their own, according to the Nashville-based LifeWay.
"Most Americans don't know firsthand the overall story of the Bible—because they rarely pick it up," said Scott McConnell, executive director of LifeWay Research. "Even among worship attendees less than half read the Bible daily. The only time most Americans hear from the Bible is when someone else is reading it."
Christian Apologist Josh McDowell says the internet is partly to blame.
"It has to do with the information glut, the introduction of the internet," he said in an interview with CBN News.
"The average adolescent takes in 34 GB of data every 24 hours from a moving screen, which means if printed out it would equal 4.5 million pages. The brain of millennials and younger, it's overloaded and as a result, it's creating a tremendous intellectual skepticism," he explained.
The survey revealed that 53 percent of Americans have read relatively little of the Bible. One in 10 has read none of it, while 13 percent have read a few sentences. Thirty percent say they have read several passages or stories in the Bible.
Evangelicals scored the highest on the survey, with 49 percent answering that they read a little bit of the Bible each day. Protestants (36 percent) are more likely to read every day than Catholics (17 percent).
A recent survey by The American Bible Society found that the majority of Americans agree that the Bible is a source of hope and a force for good. LifeWay's findings are similar, with 37 percent saying the "good book" is helpful today and 35 percent calling it life-changing.
If that's the case, why don't people read it more often?
Some of the main reasons include:
- I don't have time
- I get distracted
- Reading makes me sleepy
- The Bible is too confusing
- The Bible is boring
McConnell suggests that Americans see Bible reading like exercise, something that's good for them but they're not really motivated to do it.
He says that churches should find creative ways for people to engage in reading the word of God.
"Scripture describes itself as 'living and effective,' according to the book of Hebrews," McConnell said. "Those who have a habit of reading through the Bible a little each day say they have experienced this helpful, life-changing quality. Those who approach the book differently tend to say the Bible is positive but much less personal."
Meanwhile, many pastors are doing a good job encouraging their congregations to give the Bible a try.
But McDowell says that it's more than just telling people to read the Bible that will help.
"Where the truth of the scriptures is taught in a relevant and understanding way, I don't think you're going to grow without that," he said.