The evangelical pollster research organization, The Barna Group, released a study more than seven years in the making, involving interviews with more than 40,000 people that reveals the most “Bible-minded” (BM) cities in the U.S. as well as the least “Bible-minded” cities. (The study was commissioned by the American Bible Society.) The most BM city is Knoxville, Tennessee, and the least BM city is Providence, Rhode Island.
And what exactly is “Bible-mindedness?” According to the Barna Group website, “ Individuals who report reading the Bible in a typical week and who strongly assert the Bible is accurate in the principles it teaches are considered to be Bible-minded. This definition captures action and attitude—those who both engage and esteem the Christian scriptures. The rankings thus reflect an overall openness or resistance to the Bible in the country’s largest markets.” You can read the full report here.
This study continues to reflect a trend that’s been going on for some 50 years now, i.e. the movement toward a post-Christian, post-religious world in which faith values play an increasingly minor role in both our public and private lives. And—one could argue by conducting a brief overview of what’s been going on over the last 50 years, that the trend has not been a healthy one for us on many levels.
This is not an argument for a cozier relationship between church and state. This is a lament that somewhere people have lost faith in faith. And some of the blame can be placed squarely on the backs of us preachers and priests—we’ve abused children, we’ve cheated on spouses, we’ve had highly public affairs, we’ve engaged in financial misdeeds, we’ve embraced political agendas that are polarizing and so on. If we, the shepherds have been so faithless, so un-mindful of biblical teachings, can it be any surprise that the public has become disinterested and that they are seeking to find the truth elsewhere?
We preachers need to be Bible-minded. We need to live as though the teachings of the Bible have a binding and meaningful relationship to the way we live.