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Bible reading in the pandemic 


Christians are gaining hope and confidence during the pandemic through reading the Bible, a survey finds


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Increased reading of the Bible during the pandemic is leading to Christians feeling hope in God and a sense of confidence in the future, despite what’s happening around them.
 
The findings come in a survey for Bible Society, carried out by Christian Research.
 
The survey found that reading the Bible was making a big difference to how Christians felt. Forty-two per cent reported that it led to an increased sense of hope in God during the crisis, rising to nearly half (49 per cent) among 45 to 54-year-olds. Some 28 per cent said that reading the Bible had increased their confidence in the future, whilst 63 per cent said that it had enabled their confidence to remain the same, rather than dipping.
 
‘It’s encouraging to see that the Bible is giving people hope and confidence,’ said Dr Andrew Ollerton, author of The Bible Course. ‘The Bible has the ability to stand over our circumstances as something solid, a reference point in uncertain times. It’s like having felt all at sea, and then having a rock to stand on.’
 
Twenty-three per cent of those surveyed said that the Bible had increased their mental wellbeing, including 47 per cent of 24 to 34-year-olds.
 
Thirty-three per cent of 16 to 24-year-olds reported that reading the Bible had helped them feel less lonely. 
 
‘Mental health is so important,’ said Dr Ollerton, ‘and the Scriptures are a source of endurance and wellbeing.’
 
Naomi Campbell is a mother-of-two from Jersey who has been shielding throughout the pandemic due to health issues. She said: ‘The verse that has meant a lot to me in all of this is Isaiah 61.3, ‘You have given me a garment of praise instead of a spirit of despair.’ My life has had a lot of challenges, but all the way along, God has given us the opportunity to see his goodness, his creativity in our lives.
 
‘That verse has stayed with me during lockdown. This verse has been amazing, actually.
I haven’t been able to be in control of anything during lockdown, and I like to be in control. I like things neat and organised. But this verse tells me that I need to embrace the messiness of life.’
 
The survey found that people are reading the Bible more during the pandemic. Some 35 per cent of those asked were reading the Bible more during the pandemic. The biggest rise was among 25 to 34-year-olds, where more than half (53 per cent) were reading the Bible more often.
 
Though many are still reading print editions of the Bible, others are turning to new technology. Twenty-three per cent are now using a Bible-reading app; 30 per cent are now listening to the Bible, and 25 per cent of 25 to 34-year-olds questioned said that they had begun reading the Bible during Covid.
 
As well as reading more, people are also turning to the Bible more frequently than before the pandemic. A quarter of those asked, said that they were reading the Bible ‘multiple times a day’ and half said that they were reading the Bible on a daily basis.
 
Again, the Bible is proving popular with younger age groups, as 27 per cent of 25 to 34-year-olds and 32 per cent of 35 to 44-year-olds reported turning to the Bible several times a day.
 
Fifty-nine per cent per cent of people surveyed said that they now watched more Bible-related videos or had started watching them.
 
Bible Society's resources aimed at helping people make sense of the Bible story have become increasingly popular during the pandemic, with many more people using The Bible Course online. Zoom courses are happening across the country.
 
Course author Dr Andrew Ollerton said, ‘The Bible is a big story that makes sense of life and a resource, like The Bible Course on Zoom, seems vital now. It’s so easy to run and take part and people are just loving it.’


Bible image | Aaron Burden | Unsplash
 

Baptist Times, 19/02/2021
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