Posted on March 3, 2021

The Pros and Cons of Digital Bible Engagement

Posted on March 3, 2021 by .BIBLE Registry Categories: Innovation, Spiritual

Does reading the Bible in a printed format versus a digital format make a difference? But maybe that isn't the most important question. 

The more important concern is reading the Bible on a consistent basis.  Center of Bible Engagement has research (with over 400,000 people surveyed) that shows "the life of someone who engages scripture 4 or more times a week looks radically different from the life of someone who does not. In fact, the lives of Christians who do not engage the Bible most days of the week are statistically the same as the lives of non-believers." Engaging with the Bible has real benefits in self-care with respect to mental health and emotional well-being: "In every case, as Scripture engagement increased, so did the experience of positive emotions, like hopefulness and feeling encouraged, peaceful, and loved."

That aside, what can help somone decide on the Bible format to read and engage with? Lillian (at Hey Creative Sister) itemized this list of pros and cons at  Digital or Regular Bible? Which is Best For You?

Pros and Cons of the Digital and Bound Bible

Pros of the Digital Bible

  • Compact and lightweight
  • Easy to Carry
  • Fits in Bag or Purse
  • You can carry supporting study tools such as a Strongs Concordance and other Reference guides
  • You can enlarge font as needed
  • You can keep track of your daily reading within the app
  • Accountability- you can read plans with online friends
  • Read anytime and anywhere
  • Easily saves your place in both the Old Testament and New Testament
  • Side by side versions for study
  • Great for on the go reading

Cons of the Digital Bible

  • Digital Distraction
  • Inductive study is nearly impossible
  • Note taking is nearly impossible or hard to retrieve
  • More difficult to navigate notes
  • Depending on the app, it could be difficult to read

Pros of a Regular Bound Bible

  • Bible notes and highlighting in margins
  • Scripture recollection
  • prayers and praise recorded in margins of the Bible
  • Inductive study
  • Heritage- it can be passed down to your children and family members

Cons of the Regular Bound Bible

  • heavy and cumbersome to carry
  • Difficult to travel with

Other lists of pros and cons about Digital Bibles

Print vs. Digital: Pros and Cons (Dwayne McCrary, Explore the Bible)

The Perks of Reading a Digital and Physical Bible (CrossKingdom)

The pros and cons of reading the Bible on your smartphone (Aaron Koh, Growing Faith)

The pros and cons of reading an analog Bible (Bill Douthwaite)

Free Resource for Churches: Free Bible App Customized to Grow Your Church Spiritually

What Difference Does the Format Really Make?

In one sense, reading the Bible is the main thing, regardless of the format. But depending on the person, perhaps the format and the medium can make some difference in reading comprehension and retention. For instance, this Christianity Today article, " Digital Bibles Help Men Read More But Retain Less: Data suggests Christians are unaware of the effect the medium has on the message." concluded:

“Print and digital Bibles are usually framed in opposition to one another… but the data suggests the relationship is much more complex,” he [John Dyer] said. “Bible reading today is more of a multimedia experience, with readers using a combination of print, screen, and audio depending on form of Bible engagement they are doing.”

That said, his observations reveal that “(people) make these choices often based on convenience—often grabbing the Nearest Available Bible (NAB)—and are unaware of the effect the medium has on the message and the reader.”

But one of Dyer’s biggest takeaways is how men and women differ in Bible reading preferences and comprehension, suggesting that digital Bible apps engage men more but may not provide deeper understanding.


Photo Credit: Aaron Burden on Unsplash