Audio Bible Technology a Timely Answer
Scripture engagement is helping people and churches grow.
Although more than half of Americans say religion is very important in their lives, only 35 percent of U.S. adults say they read Scripture at least once a week.
The Pew Forum on Religion & Public Life, a non-partisan forum that supplies information on contemporary religious issues, recently released these and many other statistics in a 268-page report, titled the U.S. Religious Landscape Survey.
- 55,000 - U.S. churches involved in FCBH Bible listening projects (FCBH, 2008).
- 92% - Percentage of U.S. households with at least one copy of the Bible (Barna, 1993).
- 3 - Number of Bibles the average U.S. household owns (Barna, 1993).
Of the 35,000 U.S. adults surveyed, 45 percent said they seldom or never read God’s Word.
“This study confirms that people aren’t engaging in God’s Word,” said Jerry Jackson, the founder and president of Faith Comes By Hearing, the world’s foremost Audio Bible ministry. “I like to read, and I encourage reading,” said Jackson, “however, I find that my tendency is to read small portions or skip over some parts.”
From his three decades of Bible ministry, Jackson knows that many people have a difficult time reading the Bible. “People are busy these days, and they don’t take the time to read the Bible,” he said.
National research organizations agree, reporting that 65 percent of self-identified “Bible readers” have never read the entire New Testament.
To combat this trend, Jackson’s non-profit ministry has sought innovative ways to make the Bible accessible to people who either lack the time or ability to read it. Faith Comes By Hearing is now helping bring God’s Word in a format people use everyday – audio.
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Currently this U.S.-based ministry has Audio Bibles recorded in about a dozen English versions and in nearly 300 other languages. Faith Comes By Hearing records and uses these Audio Bibles to deepen American church-goers’ faith and for international discipleship and church planting programs.
Since 1989, more than 55,000 churches from all 50 states have participated in Audio Bible listening programs sponsored by Faith Comes By Hearing. The current campaign, called You’ve Got The Time, began in early 2006.
As part of this nation-wide initiative, church leaders receive and distribute free Audio New Testaments on MP3 disc to every man, woman and child in their congregation. Then they challenge their congregations to listen to their Audio Bibles for 28 minutes a day over a period of 40 days, thereby covering the entire New Testament.
Participating churches then receive offerings for Faith Comes By Hearing’s international recordings and programs, which help poor and illiterate people in other countries hear God’s Word in their own language.
You’ve Got The Time is a hit with pastors. In the last two years, 7,000 churches have listened through the entire New Testament. The You’ve Got The Time campaign got its name after a pastor’s survey revealed that “lack of time” was the No. 1 reason why people weren’t reading the Bible.
“This campaign has brought our annual reading challenge to a whole new level,” said one New Mexico pastor. “You’ve Got The Time addresses the real challenge of finding time. The Bible in digital format provides endless opportunities to expose a person’s life to the transforming Word of God.”
“Listening through the entire Scripture is surprisingly enjoyable,” said Jackson. “You can absorb large amounts of the Scripture in a short time period, and it’s all in context. Most people don’t realize that 70 percent of Scripture is in story-telling form and when reconstructed in a dramatized format becomes very engaging – like a book on tape.”
“Listening to the Bible, as opposed to reading, brings a stronger sense of the story that’s being told,” said a Methodist minister.
Feedback like this is common for Faith Comes By Hearing, who recently conducted a pastor’s survey. Of the nearly 700 pastors surveyed, 26 percent said the You’ve Got The Time campaign has increased attendance at their church and that the number of people who have received Christ as Savior has increased as well. Nearly half (49.5 percent) said that because of this Bible listening project, more people, including other church leaders, were asking Bible questions. Thirty-three percent of pastors surveyed reported that children in the church who were listening were also asking more questions than normal. One-third of pastors also said giving has increased due to the You’ve Got The Time campaign.
For those who don’t attend church but want to listen to the Bible, Faith Comes By Hearing made all their Audio Bibles available for free download at www.FaithComesByHearing.com. Since November 2007, more than 40,000 people have downloaded a free Audio Bible in 225 languages from computers connected around the world.
Jackson said this hunger and growth for God’s Word still proves “that there is a ‘God-sized’ hole in everyone that people are trying to fill.”
“The Bible is still relevant to our culture today,” he continued. “There are challenging concepts and truths in God’s Word that encourage us to do a better job in positively contributing to our families, those we work with and those who are disadvantaged.”
“What a wonderful encouragement for those in the Church to hear the Word and to know that they are a part of something,” said one pastor. “If you are a church leader debating on getting involved, you have nothing to lose. Listening to God’s Word will only strengthen you and your Church.”