Reasons why we don’t read the Bible?

From a recent article on CNN’s blog on religion,

“Especially among 18-to-29 year olds, Bible reading has come to feel like homework, associated with “right” interpretations and “wrong ones,” and accompanied by stern lectures from the pulpit.”

As someone who stands behind that pulpit, I would like to know honestly…Do you believe this is true?

About Lazo

Lazo is the pastor for preaching and vision at Reality SB. He is committed to spreading the worth of Jesus in Santa Barbara, through the expository preaching of God's Word. You might like these blog posts, 5 Wrong Ways To Comfort Hurting People or An Orthodoxy That Breathes

Posted on May 18, 2011, in erratic. Bookmark the permalink. 22 Comments.

  1. Now at 30 I dunno if I can answer :p I think for me personally it was always laziness. Not always understanding what I was reading and really not spending the time with God to learn what he was trying to teach me. It felt like homework, but only because I felt I had to read it to work my way to gain favor with God, which isn’t true.

  2. I’m 24, and personally I wouldn’t say that it’s the person standing behind the pulpit that makes reading the Bible seem like homework, as long as that person is truly engaged in the Word. When I see someone who is just floored about the Bible and what it has to say, and who wants to impart that to others, it makes me want to read my Bible more, to get a taste of what they’ve experienced as they’ve sought the Lord.

    On the other hand, when those standing behind the pulpit show no passion for what they’re teaching and seem to have no real personal investment in what they’re saying, I don’t usually walk away wanting to read my Bible.

    I’m not saying it takes a charismatic person to inspire people to seek the Lord on their own, but rather someone who has really taken that step to meet with God and commune with Him over His Word. Like 2 Corinthians 3:18 says, as we–with unveiled faces–look on His face, we are transformed into His image with ever increasing glory. It’s that glory that is infectious and inspires young people such as myself.

  3. Jessica Jenkins

    No, I think a lot of people say that phrase but that’s not what the main reason for not reading your bible. There are many reasons people don’t read the bible and I believe that occurs when you don’t have right doctrine and a clear understanding of who God truly is. The misconception or wrong teaching of God/Jesus/Holy Spirit is at the heart of most reasons for not opening up the Word. People see God as judge or unloving so why would they want to read His word, others are full of fear and unfortunately there are those who have been deceived and lied to about God, and all these ways hinder them from ever coming to Him. All these things stem from a person and that is a bummer, people hinder people from going to Gods word. This convicts of living out the gospel big time.

    Thanks for asking this question, its a good one. We are so lucky to have the pastors and staff who never lead us astray and always give us the truth of Gods word, in love!

  4. If you look at the age group that is referenced in the CNN blog, it kind of makes sense. These are college students. We spend countless hours listening to lectures and searching through lecture notes and text books for nuggets of truth that we then regurgitate onto papers and finals in exchange for a passing grade. Unfortunately we often approach preaching and the Word in the same manner. It feels like homework because that is what we have turned it into. We read the bible expecting to find factual truth (which it is full of) when instead we should be expecting to find God himself who is the source of all truth. Reading seems like work because we are straining to find profundities that we can drop like scripture bombs in conversation instead of seeking to commune with the creator of the universe. Im sure there are a million different reason why we sometimes feel this way, but personally, I think it boils down to the difference in experience when we approach things of the Spirit with our heads instead of with our hearts.

    • The article makes a similar point regarding attending corporate worship,

      “When Bible study can be done on Facebook as easily as in the church basement, and a favorite preacher can teach lessons via podcast, the necessity of physically gathering each week in the same place with the same people turns remote.”

      • And they continued steadfastly in the apostles’ doctrine and FELLOWSHIP, in the breaking of bread, and in prayers….

        …Now all who believed were TOGETHER, and had all things in common.

        Where 2 or more are gathered…

        I enjoy the convince of being able to be part of several Bibles studies through out the US during the week all from my couch, but no way can we substitute that for gathering and fellowship. IMHO

  5. I love the responses above, but I’d like to add my 2 cents.

    I believe that the desire to read the bible is a matter of the heart and must stem from a desire to seek Him, rather than work for his favor. But this must first come that knowledge, which without reading the bible, must come from hearing it from others, which is most commonly done from the pulpit.

    This is where, I think, it could go either direction. A stern lecture, that tells us to read the bible, isn’t enough to compel us to do so. We are truly blessed that the messages from Reality are Christ/Gospel centered. We are constantly reminded that God is not to be viewed as Santa Claus, or a policeman, but as a Father who loves us dearly.

    With that knowledge/reminder, we can respond with love, and rather than feeling like we have to read the bible, we want to. We desire more time with Him, and by seeking Him through his Word, we continue the glorious cycle of falling more and more in love with Him.

  6. Good stuff, you guys/gals
    So this is what it sounds like is being said the problem is so far…

    1) lazy (on the part of the reader)
    2) passion (on the part of the communicator)
    3) content (…communicator)
    4) entertainment (…communicator)
    5) gospel-centered (…communicator)

    So if preachers were more passionate, exhorted with the gospel, and dropped sweet nugs of truth, more young people would pick up their Bibles?

  7. In response to :The article makes a similar point regarding attending corporate worship,
    “When Bible study can be done on Facebook as easily as in the church basement, and a favorite preacher can teach lessons via podcast, the necessity of physically gathering each week in the same place with the same people turns remote.”
    I have done this, i.e., thought I didn’t need to physically gather each week in the same place with the same people; I was wrong. I can study my Bible on my own, and I do. I can listen to a preacher or teacher via podcast, and I do. But there is nothing that can replace the physical gathering together with others of like precious faith. We are encouraged to exhort one another daily, and while we can encourage one another via the internet, blogs, etc., those things cannot replace fellowship in corporate gatherings. In short, we need to be with each other, and although it may not thrill us to get dressed, get up & leave the comfort of our cozy beds, we always are better for having physically gathered with real people in a physical gathering.

    • I agree with you Sylvia, although this was pointed out in the comments of the article as well. Someone said, that the accountability and love that come from being in a community is also what makes people rather stay at home than gather in the church.

      And a lot of the time I’d have to agree.

      What’s sometimes wrong with this situation is that both sides of the spectrum are too focused on people (“people annoy me so i’m not going to go to church”; “I want to shake hands with every single person that ever walked in the door and interrupt every conversation so that they feel welcome”)

      I miss Reality.

      • I’ve never thought of it that way. It sounds like what you’re saying is that with regards to community, we try too hard to make it happen to the point of awkwardness, or we just avoid it, ripping us off from genuine community (hence our draw to social media). Is that right?

        Reality misses you too, Nikelle

      • I think its the 35yrs old and up crowd that error on the side of Too Much! As far as young people, 18 and under, I rarely see them trying to hard socially, and for everyone that does, there are 50 with there nose in there iPhone. Young people are socially handicapping themselves for later in life, unless they can do their job interview on a Facebook chat that is,

        • Not everyone would call being attached to your phone socially handicapping…some would say that it’s a rough, yet necessary change that we must wrestle through as part of a technological generation. While others fully embrace how the smartphone is refining the way we eat together by bringing a large network into our roundtable discussions.

          One thing I notice…young, tech-savvy people generally don’t care if you bust out your phone at the dinner table. They just do the same as if it were a natural response or gesture.

      • I was actually referring to a specific meeting I went to that was all college students. I couldn’t finish one conversation with one person because two or three people would hop over and shove their friend (the club member I was previously talking to) aside and introduce themselves.

        there’s nothing in the world i would like to do than punch people in the face, so when stuff like this happens i shut down, nothing meaningful happens in the conversations. and I remember thinking that all I wanted to do was go sit somewhere and read my bible..or sleep.

        • Oh wow…that’s irritating. Yeah, that drives me nuts when others try to hard. I guess that’s what’s always been a battle for me with smaller gatherings, is that I know it’s gonna happen.

  8. yes. right.

  9. Matt Organista

    I like reading this stuff post more dialogues!

  10. How did we get from Bible reading to smartphones? Ha!

  11. My response would have to deal with the part that deals with saying that us college students do not pick up the Bible because of the

    associated with “right” interpretations and “wrong ones,” and accompanied by
    stern lectures from the pulpit.”

    In all honesty as I’ve been reading the Bible and learning more about the faith, the interpretations that i get from pastors, from any background, whether it be in their preaching or from their books, I’ve gained a greater desire to turn to the Bible to see if that interpretation is actually something I personally agree with. And when i do meditate on the Word and the interpretations that I’ve heard and “battled” with it feels all too good knowing how awesome God is working through ministers of His Truth.

    I dont know if my point is getting across but for me if i hear something that is tugging at my heart about a certain “interpretation” from a lecture behind the pulpit I try and study and meditate and ask questions about those interpretations.
    If i dont make sense please let me know! hahaha

    • Wow, Tim, that’s awesome that you do that, and is really encouraging to me as a teacher, knowing that people are going home and checking up on the teaching. It gives me a huge bar to shoot for, and makes me excited to know that people are engaging in the Word of God. It’s as Luke recorded of the Bereans,

      “Now these were more noble-minded than those in Thessalonica, for they received the word with great eagerness, examining the Scriptures daily to see whether these things were so” (Acts 17:11)

      Great answer brother.

  1. Pingback: I’m looking for a community group that is awesome and doesn’t require anything of me. « ChristopherLazo

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