We recently performed a survey on the Instagram account, InstaPray, asking participants about their Bible study habits and discipleship beliefs. We had 822 participants of whom 25% were <18 years of age and 55% between 18 and 30. Half resided outside the United States, 80% described themselves as evangelical and 85% as saved by grace. Full findings here.
We noted several interesting findings.
- External Bible learning resources – Participants most often depended on their pastor’s sermons as their primary external resource for biblical education (75%). Also important were other small groups within the church (50%). The highest extra-church resources were online searches and websites (47%). Books about scripture were about 33%.
Comment: These data continue to show the importance of the local church in biblical education. However, they also demonstrate the importance of the emergence of online resources.
As wonderful as the internet is, we urge our students to be careful of Bible themed online resources. Investigate the author’s biography if possible and their doctrinal statement on the site. Make sure they believe in biblical authority, Jesus as Christ, God, man, salvation by grace, and other essential biblical themes.
- Personal Bible study techniques – Participants noted overwhelming that their personal Bible study was to read scripture (83%). Following this, just over a third said they sought information as they needed it, listened to a sermon podcast or meditated on scripture. About 30% noted they did a verse by verse study themselves and 22% in a Bible study group.
- Comment: We emphasize to our own students the importance of verse-by-verse study to add to the vital knowledge gained form their pastor’s sermons. Verse-by-verse study discovers the most interesting and complete information from scripture to know Christ and to gain its benefits in our lives. A good resource to learn the technique Joy of Discovery, at Amazon.
- Bible study definition – When participants were asked how they define Bible study their answers differed from what they practiced. Most all believed that reading the Bible was proper technique (82%) but 60% confessed that verse-by-verse study also was important as well as meditating on scripture. Videos ranked at 40% while seeking out information as needed fell to 37%.
- These data show an inconsistency by the participants between their beliefs about Bible study versus their actions in that commonly they seek out information when needed. However, they recognized that verse-by-verse Bible study is important but actually do this method less often than they believe they should, either individually or in a group.
Comment: At Teleios we believe it’s vital to study scripture not only verse-by-verse to gain all that scripture offers, as noted above, but also to study prospectively and not just when the need arises.
Obviously, we do not know all the reasons people seek information online, however, when we seek God in advance before troubles arise we can perceive nasty life entanglements more clearly regarding which people or situations to avoid and keep ourselves from problems. It is better to see that rock on the trail before you trip than to look back, having fallen flat, and say “Oh yeah, I should not have done that!” Scripture is the light that helps us avoid mistakes.