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Canadian Bible Engagement Study

01 May 2014
Theme:

The Canadian Bible Engagement Study is a ground-breaking study of 4,474 Canadians conducted by Vision Critical on their Angus Reid Forum. The study data was gathered in late 2013 and released to the public May 1, 2014.

The study was sponsored by The Evangelical Fellowship of Canada and the Canadian Bible Forum with funding participation from Stronger Together Grants.

This major Canadian research project released two main reports.

All of these are also available at www.bibleengagementstudy.ca. At that website you’ll also find:
  • the 2 minute video "Are Canadians Done With the Bible?"
  • resources to help your church improve its Bible engagement, including a church self-assessment tool, Bible reading plans, Apps, ebooks and more

Food for thought from the initial report

  • Just 14% of Canadians read the Bible at least once a month in 2013 (down from 28% in 1996).
  • 64% of Canadians think the scriptures of all major world religions teach essentially the same things.
  • 69% of Canadians think the Bible has irreconcilable contradictions
  • Only 18% of Canadians strongly agree that the Bible is the Word of God

However, the study also found that

  • Canadians who strongly agree the Bible is the Word of God are six times more likely to attend religious services weekly than those who only moderately agree.
  • Canadians who talk with others about the meaning of the Bible at least once a week are:
    • four times as likely to attend religious services weekly,
    • six times more likely to read the Bible at least a few times a week, and
    • six times more likely to reflect on the meaning of the Bible – compared to those who have conversations just a few times a month.
  • Those who don't think the Bible has irreconcilable contradictions are three times more likely to attend religious services weekly than those who do.

What is the CBES?

The Canadian Bible Engagement Study is a ground-breaking study of 4,474 Canadians conducted by Vision Critical on their Angus Reid Forum. The study data was gathered in late 2013 and released to the public May 1, 2014.

The study was sponsored by The Evangelical Fellowship of Canada and the Canadian Bible Forum with funding participation from Stronger Together Grants.

The lead investigator in the CBES project was Rick Hiemstra, the EFC’s director of research. He worked with a team including Bruno Désorcy of Christian Direction, Andrew Grenville of Vision Critical and the members of the Canadian Bible Forum. Hiemstra welcomes questions on the literature review, the English qualitative interviews, the survey development and the data analysis.

Related Resources

What leaders said about the first CBES report

  • This landmark Canadian study of Canadian Bible engagement is unique and sobering. The findings will challenge us to renew our own engagement with the Bible and nurture communities in which the Word of God is talked about, studied and applied. - Bruce Clemenger, President, The Evangelical Fellowship of Canada
  • As a Pentecostal family in Canada we are engaged in our “Every Day Faith” initiative which includes the call to “Read Every Day”. Consistent Scripture engagement by followers of Jesus is essential if they are to be persons who are transformed by the living, active truths of God’s Word. We value the Canadian Bible Engagement Study and the insights it brings as we continue our call to “Read Every Day.” - David Wells, General Superintendent, Pentecostal Assemblies of Canada
  • The Canadian Bible Engagement Study is a helpful resource. It give evidence that the gospel story or canon of scripture must be a first thing in order to be shaped by it. Reading this report encouraged me to continue to teach and train people to engage the biblical account so that they can take in the gospel story but also be taken in to the gospel story. - Ray Aldred, Assistant Professor of Theology Ambrose University College and Seminary, Chair of NAIITS An Indigenous Learning Community, Director of My People part of Indigenous Pathways
  • This research provides a foundation for what we thought we knew. There is no value in wistful longing for what used to be. Canadian Christians who are serious about what they say they believe must engage the Scriptures. - Gord Martin, Executive Director, Vision Ministries
  • The findings of the Canadian Bible Engagement Study should be another wakeup call to all of us in Church leadership in Canada of the biblical illiteracy in our pews today. Rick Hiemstra does an outstanding job of collating and presenting the statistical information in a way that is easy to understand and use. Hopefully the Study will help us all to motivate believers across our nation to embrace the Word of God wholeheartedly and daily. - David Arrol Macfarlane, Director of National Initiatives, Billy Graham Evangelistic Association of Canada
  • We only know as much of God as He has revealed to us. He has revealed Himself in creation, conscience, the scriptures and Christ. It is scripture that gives us an understanding of what we see (in creation), why we feel (in conscience), who we trust (in Christ), so the scripture is indispensable to our understanding and knowledge of God. The more we know Scripture the more we may know God, and the less we know scripture, the less we will understand the ways and the heart of God. This survey portrays a snapshot of Bible reading in Canada, which is an indispensable factor in the spiritual health of people, and therefore of our nation. - Charles Price, Pastor, People's Church Toronto
  • Far from being a dusty volume on the shelf, the Bible is unlike any other book. It changes us when we learn to read it and talk about it with others. My colleagues and I were pleased to enable a survey of Bible engagement, and hope you will download this free document and learn from the responses of over 4,000 Canadians. - Mark Petersen, Managing Director, Stronger Together Grants
  • 2017 is the 500th anniversary of the great revival of Bible knowledge. We call it the Reformation. Its heart was passionate about studying and living out the Bible stories and Gospel. It's time for another revival, as the Word in living words and loving Christ bursts forth. The Canadian Bible Engagement Study is an imaginative initiative to spark this revival of the Word. - Brian C. Stiller, Global Ambassador, The World Evangelical Alliance
  • May I recommend to you a careful analysis of the Canadian Bible Engagement Study carried out jointly by the Canadian Bible Forum and The Evangelical Fellowship of Canada. Hopefully this prophetic voice will challenge us all to bring the Church back to her trust and commitment in God's  inspired Word. The alarm has sounded; we need to act! 2 Timothy 3:14-17. - Bill Fietje, President, Associated Gospel Churches
  • Finally! Comprehensive ground-breaking research about our use, trends, beliefs about, and attitudes toward the Bible. Alarmingly, the Canadian Bible Engagement Study reveals the Bible is nothing more than a dust covered book for most Canadians! But there are glimmers of hope. The Report indicates that Bible engagement is strengthened when we develop confidence in the Word, build community focused on the Word, and encourage conversations about the Word. I highly recommend the Study and urge you not just to read the Report, but to take action by advocating for the Bible and inviting engagement. - Lawson Murray, President, Scripture Union
  • In the context of a secular culture where the Bible is seen as irrelevant at best and dangerous at worst, and a Christian culture where the authority of the Bible is being battled in many quarters, it is helpful to have a study that examines the confidence people have in the Bible.  Conversations around the results of this report should prove fruitful for both individuals and communities that see the Bible as central for their own life and witness. - Rod Wilson, President, Regent College
  • The report provides startling data confirming what we know to be true. The findings generate a frightening alarm but hopefully also awaken a creative impulse of response. It will certainly stimulate rigorous discussion among a wide scope of Christian faith practitioners. - Willard Metzger, Executive Director, Mennonite Church Canada
  • This report is a gigantic wake up call for the leaders of the Canadian church. It also provides a very real comparison. While we struggle, the church of the Global South & East is growing exponentially. They want God's Word. For the hundreds of millions who eagerly wait for even a single verse of Scripture to be translated into the almost 2000 languages that don't even have a written alphabet, the findings of the Canadian Bible Engagement Study are a shock. Pastors, leaders awake! - Wayne Johnson, President, OneBook
  • I think it’s important to read the Bible because it offers clear guidance on how to live. Its counsel can address every aspect of our lives, and the two that stand out for me are to love God and to care for your neighbour. - Dave Toycen, President, World Vision Canada
  • For years we have been reliant on data coming from south of the border causing us to fit it into the Canadian context without certainty of accuracy. Today we have reliable data from Canadians about Bible engagement in our nation. - Ted Seres, National Director, Canadian Bible Society
  • This recent Bible Engagement survey clearly exposes a key factor in the spiritual crisis that presently exists in Canada. It reminds the Church of its sacred responsibility to prioritize the Word of God and reveals a unique opportunity that calls for prayerful, intentional action. - Denys Blackmore, President/CEO, Every Home for Christ Intl/Canada
  • God’s Word is a precious gift to humanity. The CBES Report reflects the need for us as the Church to better equip ourselves for sharing, teaching and promoting the Word. Our goal as a ministry is to work alongside the local church in living out the gospel in your community. - Peter Marshall, Executive Director, The Gideons International in Canada
  • Canada needs the Living Word of God more than anything else. The history of our laws, healthcare, education and rights are largely based on the Word of God and this has helped to create one of the best nations in the world. The emphases of our history that have formed this nation are still relevant and necessary for our future. This study provides both quantitative data and qualitative interviews to clearly demonstrate that Bible engagement can be increased through individuals and churches having confidence in the reliability of the Word, having conversations regarding the Word, and studying the Word as a community. Canadian churches, regardless of denominational affiliation, will find much in this study to reflect on and learn from, as they seek to strengthen Bible engagement within their communities. This is part of our history and continues to be our strength for the future. - Paul Richardson, President, Bible League Canada
  • Sometimes we need to face reality before we can turn the tide. This survey gives us a realistic assessment of where Canadians are in terms of reading the Bible and allowing it to touch their lives. If Canadians don’t value God’s Word themselves, how can they ever see its value for those language groups who have no access to the Bible? So this survey is a reality check that forces me, as an organizational leader and as a leader in a local church, to ask how I can lead those under my care to better engage with and apply God's Word to their lives. - Roy Eyre, President, Wycliffe Canada
  • I fully recommend this exceptionally well written and timely report concerning the state of Bible Engagement in Canada.  This research and analysis will greatly assist Christians in Canada to assess our present state and facilitate a response to strengthen our love for and implementation of God’s Word in our daily expression of God. - Paul Johnson, Executive Director, Open Doors