Sunday, October 14, 2012
Bible Society Australia seeks to lift Bible reading rates amongst Australian Christians
Over 2,500 churches and 5,000 individuals sign up for campaign
By Martin Johnson
Special to ASSIST News Service
SYDNEY (ANS) -- During October, two and a half thousand churches across Australia and over five thousand individuals are taking part in a campaign to lift daily Bible reading habits amongst Australian Christians.
Initiated by Bible Society Australia CEO, Dr Greg Clarke, the ‘Live Light in 25 Words’ campaign is seeking to address some alarming Bible reading statistics from recent surveys such as the National Church Life Survey.
“The surveys showed that only 20 percent of Australian church goers have a daily Bible reading habit,” said Chris Melville, Manager of Campaigns and Programs for Bible Society Australia.
“When asked why, they gave three main reasons; firstly they said they didn’t have enough time, secondly they weren’t sure if the Bible was believable and thirdly they found the Bible hard to understand and relate to their lives,” Chris said.
The ‘Live Light in 25 Words’ campaign is an attempt by the Society to address each of these issues.
The name of the campaign comes in part from the new Bible Society Australia branding.
When the original state-based Bible Society’s came together as one organisation in mid-2011 to form Bible Society Australia under Dr Clark’s leadership, they chose the phrase ‘Live Light’ as their brand or positioning statement.
“As CEO of Bible Society Australia, I have the privilege of seeing what happens around the world when a people group receives the Bible in their own language
“During October, everyone who has registered for the campaign will be sent a daily e-mail with that day’s Bible verse,” said Chris Melville. “We have selected 31 verses, each of around 25 words, added some comments and a question or two and have asked people to commit to reading these every day for the whole month,” he said.
The whole month’s readings are also available as a PDF download from the Society’s web site.
“Because people identified that they didn’t have enough time as one of the reasons why they didn’t read the Bible, we deliberately selected short verses. In the same way that people write a few words for a Facebook update or send a Twitter message, we thought that making the month of readings the same length as social media updates would help people get back into the habit,” said Chris.
Through August and September, the Society ran six seminars around the country called ‘Why we can Trust the New Testament’. Leading Bible scholars and theologians Dr John Dixon, Dr Greg Clarke and Mike Rater spoke about the reliability of the New Testament documents and how we can know that Jesus actually lived.
“Each seminar was well attended with three venues showing the ‘full house’ sign,” said Chris.
Bible Society Australia also commissioned a range of print and multi-media resources, all available as free downloads from their web site, to help address the third reason people gave for not reading the Bible, they didn’t find it relevant to their daily lives.
“Firstly we asked well known Christians to share their favourite readings with us,” Chris said. “These became our ‘Read the Bible with …’ downloads. There are over 20 who contributed including Andrew Fisher, a race car driver in the Australian V8 Ute Series and Kate Bracks, winner of MasterChef – a reality television show on the TEN Network,” he said.
Nine well known Bible teachers and preachers each prepared a video sermon on the theme of the Bible and these are available as video downloads under the heading, ‘The Good Book Talks’. Topics include; ‘Why it matters that the Bible is a book’ and ‘Why we should Trust the Gospels’.
“These are designed to be used by small groups in their weekly study, or they can be played in place of a sermon,” Chris said.
The Society has also set up a Facebook page, Twitter feed and worked with publisher Matthias Media to create a Smartphone app called ‘XV – Bible in 15’.
“The app is designed to give the reader an overview of the 15 major themes of the Bible in around 15 minutes each,” said Chris.
After the campaign ends at the end of October, Bible Society Australia is looking at how they can continue to encourage Australian Christians to have a daily Bible reading habit.
“Our prayer is that the month of daily readings will turn into the habit of a lifetime,” Chris said.
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