In 2013-2014, each of the five Focus Retreats for FGBC ministry leaders focused on the values that are important to the people of the Fellowship. As each participant wrote a letter to their “Timothy,” they were to outline what they valued most. In every retreat, the Bible was at the top of the list.
It should go without saying that God’s Word is important in an evangelical group of churches like the Grace Brethren. After all, isn’t all Scripture inspired by God and profitable for teaching, for reproof, for correction, for training in righteousness so that we may be equipped for every good work (see 2 Timothy 3:16-17)?
GraceConnect surveyed 248 pastors, elders, and wives. We asked what version of the Bible they use personally and in their churches. We also wanted to know how it was used in their services. Do congregants use their own copies or are verses provided on slides that are projected in some manner? We also asked what version they recommend to others for personal use.
There were 42 responses. Click here to see some of the responses.
What were the results? For personal study, the New American Standard (NASB) version was the top, with 21 respondents. New International Version (NIV) came in second with 12. (Many specified the 1984 version, though the New International Version UK, or NIVUK, was also cited.) The English Standard Version (ESV) and New King James (NKJV) followed close behind, with seven and four responses, respectively. Other versions mentioned were King James (KJV), New Living Translation (NLT), and New English Translation (NET).
Many respondents indicated they often use more than one version for personal study. One said he kept the online site, Bible Gateway (biblegateway.com), open with parallel columns for NIV, ESV, NASB, NKJV, and the Message (MSG), along the Strong’s Concordance online via Blue Letter Bible, the Bible study software.
Most who answered indicated they preached from the version they use primarily for study, but will often cite other translations that may provide a clearer understanding. Again, the New American Standard Bible topped the list at 23, followed by New International Version (various editions) at 12. These were followed by ESV, NKJV, NLT, and KJV. The choice cited was often because it is close to today’s language and understandable, especially to new believers.
Recommended versions likewise varied, though most were adamant – read what you have and rely on a good translation, not a paraphrase. Several also suggested a translation that is easy to understand and to use more than one version for expanded insight.
In the respondent’s churches, you’ll find most people referring to their own copy of the Scriptures, whether a print copy or on a mobile device, such as a phone or tablet. Seventy-one percent indicated that was the primary choice, followed by the passage on a slide (31 percent), from a pew Bible or print copy supplied by the church (21 percent), and the passage printed in the bulletin or other handout (two percent). Several indicated they use a combination of the choices.