YOUNGER churchgoers have begun reading the Bible more in lockdown, reporting that it has helped them to feel less lonely and improved their mental health.
A survey of 1000 Christians across the UK by Christian Research, conducted for the Bible Society in December, found that more people had turned to the Bible during the pandemic, and that they were reading it more often — sometimes several times a day. The respondents were regular churchgoers before the pandemic, attending a public service at least once a month.
More than one third of those asked (35 per cent) said that they were reading the Bible more: the greatest rise was among those aged 25 to 34, among whom more than half (53 per cent) said that they were reading their Bible more frequently. One third of those asked in this age group said that they now turned to their Bible several times a day.
Those who read the Bible said that it had helped with their mental health. Nearly half of all those aged 24 to 34 said that it increased their well-being; and one third of young people aged 16 to 24 said that reading the Bible made them feel less lonely.
Respondents also reported that it gave them an increased sense of hope in God, and increased their confidence in what lay ahead of them in the future.
“It’s encouraging to see that the Bible is giving people hope and confidence,” the author of the Bible Society’s Bible Course, Dr Andrew Ollerton, said.
“The Bible has the ability to stand over our circumstances as something solid, a reference point in uncertain times. It’s like having felt all at sea, and then having a rock to stand on. Mental health is so important, and the scriptures are a source of endurance and well-being.”
Naomi Campbell, a mother of two from Jersey who has been shielding throughout the pandemic, said: “The verse that has meant a lot to me in all of this is Isaiah 61.3: ‘You have given me a garment of praise instead of a spirit of despair.’ My life has had a lot of challenges, but all the way along, God has given us the opportunity to see his goodness, his creativity in our lives.
“That verse has stayed with me during lockdown. I haven’t been able to be in control of anything during lockdown, and I like to be in control. I like things neat and organised. But this verse tells me that I need to embrace the messiness of life.”
Although printed Bibles are still the most popular medium, respondents were also turning to Bible-reading apps, audio books, and videos, the survey found.