What the Next Generation Thinks About the Bible (The Surprising Findings)

What does the next generation think about the Bible?  A recent survey of teens by Barna research pulled back the curtains and the findings might surprise you. 

How many own a Bible and read it regularly?  69% personally own a Bible.  44% read the Bible at least 3-4 times a year and 25% read it at least once a week.  3% read it daily.  53% say they wish they read the Bible more.

How much time do they spend reading the Bible?  36% spend 15 to 29 minutes, 22% spend 30 to 44 minutes and 10% spend 45 minutes or longer per sitting.  31% spend less than 15 minutes.

Why are they reading the Bible?  54% say they read the Bible because it brings them closer to God, 12% out of obligation, 8% for comfort, 6% when they are having a problem or need direction, 10% for school and 11% for other reasons.

Do they prefer to use a digital or hard copy of the Bible?  Lots of teens are reading the Bible digitally with 46% engaging with the Bible via their smartphone or cell phone.  But the biggest percentage still read from a hard copy.

Does they consider the Bible sacred literature?  86% choose the Bible as the book that comes to mind when they think of sacred literature or holy books.

Is the Bible a source of hope and guidance for the next generation?  47% strongly agree that the Bible is a source of hope.  35% believe the Bible contains everything a person needs to know to live a meaningful life.

Do they consider the Bible the literal or inspired Word of God?  30% say the Bible is the inspired Word of God with no errors, though some verses are meant to be symbolic.  20% believe the Bible is the actual Word of God and should be taken literally, word for word.  16% say the Bible is the inspired Word of God with some factual or historical errors.  19% say it is just another book of teachings written by men that contains stories and advice.  7% say the Bible is not inspired and simply tells how the writers understood the ways and principles of God.

Do they believe the Bible should have more influence on society?  40% believe the Bible has too little influence on American society.  25% believe the Bible has just the right amount of influence on society, and 17% believe the Bible has too much influence.

Does the Bible influence their political decisions?  33% say the Bible influences their opinion of the candidates running for president.  53% think politics would be positively impacted by increased Bible-reading among the candidates.
David Kinnaman, president of the Barna Broup and director of the study said, “In an increasingly secular culture, the Bible remains a highly regarded and well-read text among the vast majority of American teens - most of whom believe it to be sacred.  And the fact that so many still consider it a source of hope and guidance is reason for great optimism for church leaders and parents alike.  The research also tells us that teens care deeply about the relevance of the Bible to the world in which they inhabit.  The more youth pastors and leaders can make the Bible and its teachings relevant to challenges of today, the more they will simultaneously encourage engagement.”

Author Satterwhite, senior manager at American Bible Society says, "American teens sometimes get a bad rap as being uninterested or even anti-faith.  But the report shows that a majority of America’s teens have respect for and interest in the Bible.  Many teens are recognizing that the Bible speaks to the complete human experience - the struggles and trials and triumphs of life."