by Natalie Rogge

The Canadian Bible Engagement Study ( reports that one in seven Canadians, or 14 per cent, read the Bible at least once a week. The majority of Canadians, including those who identify themselves as Christians, read the Bible either seldom or never.

In May 2014 a Canadian study was released that painted a very real and clear picture—a change in our nation. A shift. In many ways, a decline. The results of this study cannot just be read and commented on, but must be followed up by action—on the part of individuals of all generations, local churches, parents, curriculum and resource companies, Christian educators, and all who would identify themselves as followers of Christ. 

The Canadian Bible Engagement Study ( reports that one in seven Canadians, or 14 per cent, read the Bible at least once a week. The majority of Canadians, including those who identify themselves as Christians, read the Bible either seldom or never. 

As The Pentecostal Assemblies of Canada (PAOC), our Every Day Faith discipleship ethos encourages us to read, to pray, to give, and to share every day. We are living in a time when we are surrounded with an abundance of Bibles, of various translations, as well as with other Christian resources designed to strengthen our faith. Hard copy, online version—the choice is ours. Yet this survey clearly reports that since 1996, weekly Bible reading has declined by nearly half, and people’s confidence in the Bible as the Word of God has also decreased significantly along with church attendance. 

Recently, I was asked why I still taught Sunday school. The person commented that it was a “thing of the past” and a lot of “hard work.” For me, that one hour on a Sunday morning with a group of Grade 4 to 6 students is a highlight of my week! Not only does it challenge me to dig deep into the Word, but it gives me opportunity to set a consistent environment for Bible engagement and spiritual discussions with a younger generation. It is life-giving, exciting, fulfilling, and an opportunity I cannot ignore … especially when I read the research.

I often reflect on our small group study setting as a garden, and I remind myself of these words: Without hard work, nothing grows but weeds. 

That statement not only reflects the reality of my flower and vegetable gardens on my home property, but is equally true of the spiritual garden I am committed to—where I am constantly tilling the soil of young lives, planting seeds, endlessly watering, intentionally weeding and pruning, but also joyfully harvesting. 

It is interesting to note that the Scripture engagement study revealed that Canadians who are engaging most with the Scriptures have three behaviours in common: 

1. Community—they are involved in a worshipping community 
2. Conversation—they discuss and explore the Bible with their friends 
3. Confidence—they are confident it is the way to know God and hear from Him. 

Let’s break these points down a little more … 

Community: In a generation where children spend four to seven hours online every day, it is so important that they are part of a community where God is priority #1, where He is worshipped, and where His Word is at the core of everyday activities. In today’s society and with today’s technology, those disciple-making communities can take on many forms. It may not look like yesterday’s “Sunday school,” but it must look like a gathering where the Word is central and being unpacked and studied. The foundation of our worship must be the Word.

Conversation: Engaging conversation encourages active participation by all. You can witness the very moment that God’s words make sense and become real in children’s lives in meaningful ways. The best conversations are the ones the Holy Spirit has directly with a student as they are engaged and desirous of learning. In a recent class on the Book of Revelation and Christ’s messages to the seven churches, as Mark 12:30-31 was being unpacked, one 10-year-old blurted out, “These are the words my grandma prays over me every time we are together! I didn’t know that came directly from the Bible.” What more could we ask than for our grandchildren to love the Lord with all their hearts, souls, minds and strength, and to love their neighbours as themselves?

Over the years I have found that my conversation with others can only be secondary to my own personal conversations with God. As we listen and lean in to what He is teaching us, He will then pour through us, providing water for that garden just when the ground is ready to receive. 

Only about one in 10 Canadians (11 per cent) and two in 10 Christians (21 per cent) reflect on the meaning of the Bible for their lives at least a few times a week. Only six per cent of Canadians and 11 per cent of Christians talk to others about the Bible outside of religious services at least once a week.  

CONFIDENCE: The study concludes with the message that “if churches are to strengthen the Bible engagement of their congregants, they themselves need to be convinced of the reliability, relevance, trustworthiness and divine origin of the Bible.”

Only one in seven Canadians (13 per cent) and about one in four Christians (23 per cent) strongly agree that the Bible is relevant to modern life. 

The spiritual state of our nation is one that we can do something—or nothing—about. The choice is ours. It must move from good intentions to dates and times on a calendar—intentional gatherings around the Word. I often recall my mother’s words to me in my younger years: “Hard work never hurt anyone.” I often wonder how much damage we are doing to the spiritual fabric of Canadian society if we choose a path that requires less work—or no work at all. Sadly, research reveals much truth.

Striving for effectiveness without hard work is like trying to harvest where you have not planted.  Let’s be on mission to change these Canadian statistics. Why? Because we must. 


Natalie Rogge is the strategic manager for Mission Canada and the director of Communications and Strategic Initiatives at The Pentecostal Assemblies of Canada International Office. She serves alongside her husband, Dan, at New Life Church in Milton, Ont., where they have pastored since 1992.

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