A new study conducted by the Barna Group was released this past week detailing the prominence of God’s Word in nearly 100 of America’s largest cities. Its conclusions were based on 42,855 surveys taken between 2005 and 2012 that examined how often individuals read the Bible and how strongly they believe in its accuracy. This information was then used to determine the most and least “Bible-minded” cities in the nation.
At the top of the list was Knoxville, TN, with 52% of its population displaying Bible-minded characteristics. Overall, the South showed more Bible-mindedness than any other region, with exclusively Southern cities making the top ten. Near the bottom was a considerable amount of cites in and around New England, as well as several others on the West Coast, the lowest having only 9% with Bible-minded characteristics. To compare, the cities at the top of the list are five times more likely to have Bible-minded citizens than the ones at the bottom. The Newport News, Norfolk, and Portsmouth area made it in the top half of the list at number 29.
The president of the Barna Group, David Kinnaman, provided some insightful commentary on the study’s results. “First, the large range of Bible-minded scores—from 52% in the highest markets to 9% in the lowest—shows just how diverse the nation’s population can be, from city to city . . . These gaps make a significant difference in the tone and tenor of conversations about Christianity, morals, public education, and spirituality, among many other topics.” He went on to say that while 91 out of 96 markets are not considered Bible-minded, 83 of them have a population with at least 20% Bible-mindedness, meaning one in five adults in those areas are open to engaging and esteeming the Bible. This is often considered a “tipping point” in society. For example, when the percentage of Americans with cell phones reached 20%, the statistic of cell phone owners began to grow exponentially.
In closing, Kinnaman said that, regardless of whether your city is at the top or bottom, there are still plenty of people who can be reached for Christ. What is important is that Christians continue to share their faith and influence the world for Christ, no matter what. You never know—you just may end up being the tipping point that pushes your community toward a new atmosphere of openness concerning the gospel and the love of Christ.