Exclusive Web Only Content

As part of a key distribution channel for the Bible, Christian retailers will want to be aware of a major effort to address what some see as growing antagonism to God’s Word in the wider world.

The effort follows a “State of the Bible” study conducted by Barna Research for the American Bible Society (ABS), which found growing skepticism toward the Scriptures along with a growth in the number of people who questioned its place in the public square, especially as it relates to issues of sexuality.

The ABS identified two key concerns, says Zach Hunter: a product problem and a people problem. “The product problem as we define it is sentiments like it’s too long or too old or too confusing, or it’s antiscience. The people problem is a bit more nuanced and an even bigger problem: (the view) that people who read the Bible hate women or gay people.”

The results prompted The Magellan Coalition in which the ABS together with partner organizations is trying to get people to engage with the Bible in a new way. Central to the project is Lookinside.org, a website featuring the 92 most-asked questions about the Bible. Among them:

  • What does the Bible say about sex?
  • Is the Bible a fairy tale?
  • Does the Bible talk about homosexuality?

Each question is answered with text and video aimed at encouraging further thought and exploration. Visitors are also offered “The Apology,” a two-minute video in which a broad range of Christians say they are sorry for the way in which Christians have misused and misrepresented the Bible through the years, communicating hate and prejudice instead of its message of love and grace.

“The questions people are asking about the Bible are the ones relating to sexuality, relationships, science, and how one goes about studying the Bible,” says Hunter, ABS’s Project Magellan campaign manager. “It probably comes as no surprise to anybody who sells Christian products or Bible-oriented products in general that’s where people’s hearts are … ultimately they want to know, what am I doing in my relationship, how can the Bible possibly impact it?

“The tricky part, and the unique challenge we are faced with at this particular time in church history, is whether or not we can figure out how to communicate in a way that encourages exploration while honoring the text and that is the one we are striving toward, not making doctrinal statements but encouraging people to look inside.”

Read more about reaching beyond your core constituency at Easter at cbaonline.org/convert-chreasters-regulars.

Read more about planning an Easter season retention strategy for ongoing store growth at cbaonline.org/EasterRetention.

—Andy Butcher