Tuesday, July 14, 2009

Bible Knowledge - The Generation Gap

New info is still trickling out about the Durham University 'National Biblical Literacy Survey', first reported by the Independent over a week ago (ht Kouya). The full press release from Durham is here, BBC report here. Already picked up by several blogs.

Findings include:
- 'well known' stories like the Prodigal Son and Good Samaritan are only familiar to 40% of the population.
- Some people have zero knowledge of the Bible - e.g. 16% who couldn't name any of the 10 commandments
- Under-45's have much less knowledge of the Bible than over-45's.
- Many churchgoers are pretty shaky on stories you'd think were well known: over 70% didn't know anything about Daniel and the Lions den, for example.
- 31% of people said the Bible was significant in their lives today. There's no published data yet on how many of those regularly read it.

It's vital to take these kind of things into account, both with our churches, and with folk in general. How much of church outreach assumes some basic Bible knowledge? How much do we equip and encourage people to read the Bible for themselves? Do we lament this and try to lobby for 'protection of Britains Christian heritage', or put our energies into engaging with the new reality?

Our confirmation course, for people who are looking to make an adult declaration of Christian faith, is an interesting case in point. Several of the folk on the course are reading a gospel all the way through for the first time as a result of being on the course. And they relate much better to things put into pictures than into words - this is people in their 60's and 70's as well as in their 20's and 30's.

The full findings are being presented this evening to a conference in Durham called 'Christianity in the Digital Space' which has its own blog, where audio, video and text bits of the conference are being posted. Mark Browns paper 'The Bible in Digital Space' delivered this morning, is available for download already. Fascinating stuff, looking at how the net is changing the way we read and take on information, and how we connect with people. Well worth a read.

There's also plenty of twittering also going on under the #digisymp hashtag. Paul Windo is blogging about the conference, and someone who can type very fast has posted these notes on a session about community and digital space, and you can see Mark Browns keynote address on Youtube. More papers are being added at the Digital Space website.

1 comment:

  1. I posted a short reaction to part of Mark Brown's address here: http://www.kouya.net/?p=2085 I really liked what he had to say, but there was a high dose of wishful thinking in there too.