Top 10 Reasons Why People Don't Read the Bible

I've spent 15+ years in ministry, and I've noticed a problem:
people who say they believe the Bible haven't actually read it, and people who don't believe the Bible don't want to read it. My response to both groups is this: YOU ARE MISSING OUT! Why? Because the Bible is the best proven source for life-changing joy and peace. And since it's misquoted and misrepresented all the time, you need to actually read it yourself in order to know if you do/don't agree with it or do/don't want to read it.

When I mention this, it usually surfaces at least one of these 10 barriers that prevent folks from completing it. Do you relate to any of these?

10 Reasons Most People Don't Read the Bible, Refuted

1. I'm not religious.

The Bible is the best-selling book of all time. Jesus has been hailed by secular sources as the most influential person to ever walk on the earth. Most people, even those who don't worship God, agree that Jesus was a good person with a message of love that changed humanity, so much so that the world divides the measurement of time based on HIS life. If you're not religious but you care what other people have to say--whether Plato, Oprah, Steven Hawking, or Bruno Mars--how can you consider yourself a truly rounded person if you haven't read for yourself what Jesus said? If you don't care what anyone has to say, then your choice to not read the Bible isn't based on religiosity but on apathy, which is an entirely different issue.

2. The Bible is for white Americans.

The Bible has full translations in 531 languages and has portions translated in 2,883 languages. It is read by people-groups and cultures around the world. It's THE ONLY book that has such staggering cross-cultural popularity!

3. I can't get past Genesis.

If you're saying this, then you probably ARE a white American. Anglo-saxons think linearly, and so you have probably opened the Bible at the beginning, enjoyed the chronological stories, and then somewhere after Moses, you got confused and stopped reading. Here's a hint to Western thinkers: it's not organized chronologically. Other cultures, most of them actually, think differently--circularly or thematically for examples. The Bible contains a little of all the cultures (it's like it was written by a God who equally loves ALL people!). But I recommend to a reader from any culture that a great starting place is the book of John because 1.) it's not too long, 2.) you'll find information about the ages including stories of Jesus, and  3.) it says a lot about the true meaning of love. For the remainder, you can find multiple reading plans online in your style, pace, and desired translation. Examples: You can read a page or two each day, or you can read the whole thing in a year (or 6 months, or 90 days!). You could dip back and forth between the Old and New Testaments, helping you to understand how they fit together, or you could even read it chronologically if you so desire. Did you know there's a whole section of poetry? Maybe you're the type who wants to spend more time there!

4. I can't pay attention / It's boring.

How can an ancient text compete with today's short attention spans? Thankfully, the Bible is available in modern mediums. You can use the free app (any translation) on your smart phone. You can opt for notifications if you really need a pop to grab your attention. Or you can even get it as a coloring book. Yep, that's right, you can color and doodle the scriptures! Relax your mind, body, and fuel the soul all at once.
If you find the subject matter boring, remind yourself that this is a love letter to you from God! He wants to reveal Himself, and this is the information He has chosen to bring to you. If someone else, anyone else, wrote you a love letter, would you put it aside because it was "boring?" Doubtful. It's not boring, you just need some help to understand it and stay engaged. A modern language translation can help you pay attention, also try journaling a chapter at a time and reflect upon these universal questions: What does this passage say about the nature of God? What does it say about the nature of people? What are 5 things I can be thankful for in this passage?
You know that I don't make any money by suggesting these things right? No royalties for me. I'm just here to encourage.

5. I can't understand it / I need someone to interpret it for me.

The Bible says of itself that it's hard to understand and because of this "people will twist it to their own destruction." However, it gives a distinction of WHO falls into this destruction: "those without the Spirit of the Lord." It's a ministry of the Holy Spirit to guide you into truth and help you understand, and it's clear throughout the Bible that God does not withhold His Spirit. He isn't limited to only priests and prophets. (If someone tells you otherwise, this is all the more reason to read it for yourself--what is being falsely quoted? What is being left out? Did you know that most Jewish teachers skip over the 53rd chapter of Isaiah? Did you know that in scripture Saint Peter says that he's on the same standing as anyone else who believes in Jesus?) If you are certain that you know Christ, then God has assured you, you can be certain that the Spirit of God lives in you! All you need to do is ask God to give you understanding--the Bible itself instructs this very thing! If all of this sounds new to you, please explore these hyperlinks, and most importantly, if you're not certain that you know Christ, read here (options for most languages at the very bottom). If you don't know Christ but decide to read the Bible, then you definitely need to choose one of these next 2 options for understanding:

The Bible advises to meet together with other believers for mutual encouragement and understanding. Have you considered joining a group study? Also, you can have the benefit of wise counsel in private by using a Study Bible. Many Spirit-filled people have put together volumes with commentary to help you understand. My absolute favorite is the "Discover God" Study Bible*I personally would avoid any study Bible or website that is labeled for a particular sect of the church because these can have a marginalized interpretation rather than the broadly accepted conclusions.
This is a trustworthy study Bible. It does not altar the text, but provides an accurate easy-to-read translation. Each page has brief commentary, definitions, and explanations that bridge understanding. The focus is a deeper understanding of God--His person, purpose, and attributes.

6. The Bible is full of errors.

That's actually not the case. This is a common misconception that has been propagated by non-scholars who want to deny the Bible's authority. In all areas of textual criticism and higher criticism (big words for the professional work of authenticating ancient writings), the Bible is deemed THE most accurate ancient text in existence. And it gets this title by a landslide--meaning we use many other ancient documents with a significantly larger margin of error as authorities of human history. The Bible's margin of error is less than 1%, and in that small percentage, the inaccuracies are a difference in minor prepositions etc. None of this 1% gives any confusion to the meaning of the text. An example would be like re-reading my previous sentence as "None in the 1% gives any confusion to the meaning of the text." In fact, the more that has been discovered in history and archaeology, the more continues to prove the accuracy of the Bible, which scripture actually says of itself "Every word of God proves true." Proverbs 30:5

7. I don't have time.

I've got a busy schedule too, so I understand that adding something to an already full plate is sometimes not feasible. I mentioned there's a smart phone app (which if you're honest, you may be wasting a little bit of time on your device). But there are also audio versions of the Bible. Listen to it while you're on the move or while doing chores. You can even watch it on YouTube (another known time-waster). Redeem these wasted minutes of your week by challenging your mind! A wise friend of mine says, "Everyone has time to read 10 minutes a day." It's true. Here's a teacher who gives a verse and an explanation in a 5 minute weekly video. You can subscribe to her station and get the link sent right to you. Or you can have written portions sent to your email for free (here) from the book of John. If you say that you can't set aside 10 minutes, then the issue isn't really a matter of time, but of desire, am I right?

8. The Bible doesn't work for me.

If you're saying this, let me presume two things about you:
1. You HAVE in fact read it. (If you haven't read it yet, then really, you have no idea if it will or will not "work for you." You may assume that you know what it says, but you'd probably be surprised), and
2. You've had an experience of disappointment. Maybe you're feeling as if you've been let down by God? Maybe you're unemployed, lonely, or suffering?
Can I tell you what words the Bible says about this very thing? If you're hurting, then God is INVITING you to come to Him. If you read the Psalms, you will find people, just like you, who have poured out their hearts to God, who have gone through tremendous suffering, and in His presence, have found hope. If you turn away from God during the hard times, you're doing the opposite of what can help you most! Not sure how to start? Read the psalms. Start with Psalm 1 and read one each day. Highlight the parts that mention God's character, and think on those qualities throughout the day. Don't give up, don't stop at 10. If you miss a day, start again the next. You will be amazed if you continue! Want proof? Write your own psalm to God and seal it in an envelope, and when you reach Psalm 140, write another. Then open your sealed envelope and compare the two! (See post: Write your own Psalm to God) If you're coming to God as a consumer, i.e. "What deal do you have for me?" you will continue to miss the joy and peace that others talk about. But if you come to God as a seeker, "God, who are you? Let me know you more," then you will find Hope because He IS hope.

9. The Bible is contradictory/outdated.

Saying the Bible is contradictory is like saying that Star Wars is contradictory: "Anakin Skywalker can't both be a Jedi and Darth Vader. This story is inconsistent. It obviously can't be trusted." No, just like Star Wars, there's an epic story happening in the Bible. If you skip the middle, you'll obviously be confused. The Bible spans all of human history. From the creation of the world to eternity, with a WHOLE LOT of stuff that happens in between. Some of that stuff IS outdated--meaning God gave rules to a specific group of people during a specific time, which don't apply to us today, but that doesn't mean it's not beneficial to know those details. Example: You read in the New Testament that "Jesus sets us free," and then you may ask, "Free from what?" If you read the whole thing, you will know with clarity. Some of the stories are universal--they are meant for all people in all times, but they contain cultural nuances from when they were written--this doesn't mean the story is outdated, but rather just like Shakespeare, the better we understand the setting, the better we can appreciate the story. If all of this sounds too difficult, don't worry, you can go back to Kindergarten and read a children's Bible to get an overview of the bigger story. However, many children's Bibles relay the stories individually rather than as pieces of one large story, so it's important to choose a good one. Two that I recommend are: The Big Picture Bible, and The Jesus Story Book Bible, which is our family's personal favorite. The kids love the stories, pictures, and audio cd's, but also it's told in such a beneficial way for adults' understanding that it was actually assigned as a textbook for one of our graduate level seminary courses. It's excellent in all regards. *I'm not recommending that you read this as a substitute, but rather as a supplement to help you enjoy and digest the whole of the Bible.

A photo posted by Keri Armentrout (@keriarmentrout) on

10. I just don't want to.

This is the reason that pains my heart most because you are missing out on the single most rewarding piece of humanity--your ability to connect your soul to God. Yes, we human beings can accomplish a lot on our own--we can dig deep and find strength. But those things will be only as much as: resolve, determination, strength of self will. (Wait, isn't this what we all want and need? Yes, but not it alone). There is something even richer. Your soul ponders things like "Is there more? What's the point? and WHY?" These answers are found in the Bible. Your soul longs for completion, unconditional love, and peace. People around the world continue to attest that reading the Bible increases their experience of these things, both within themselves and in relationships. Readers report that they experience decreased stress, depression, and anxiety.  You can fill your days with tasks, people, and purposes. You can dismiss the Bible and say, "All I need, I can find within myself." This is the beauty of God--He gives you free choice to do that. But I'm here to tell you, the way I would tell a friend who I could look squarely in the eye and with love and certainty say to you,


I can't convince you to find it, but I will implore you to consider.

Will you accept my challenge to read the Bible for yourself this year?
Can I persuade you that there is no good reason to say no? Don't delay! Make this year the year that you read the Bible!

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