New Study: ‘Spiritual Deficiency Syndrome’- (SDS)

A survey taken by the Bible Society among churchgoers in England and Wales some ten years ago first picked up on the symptoms that have since be identified with those church goers who have also been diagnosed with what is commonly known today as ‘Spiritual Deficiency Syndrome’ (SDS)

Based on a random sample of regular churchgoers in England and Wales, a survey commissioned by this Society in 1997 showed that 16% – fewer than 1 in 5 – were in the habit of personally reading (or hearing read) something from the Bible every day, and that, including those who did read the Bible daily, only 1 in 4 (25%) read the Bible more than once a week. Overall, just over two-thirds (68%) had read at least something from the Bible during the past twelve months.

However, this meant that nearly a third (32%) had either not read anything from the Bible during the twelve months preceding the survey, or had never personally read the Scriptures at any time in their lives. – Bible Society


Further studies have found that (SDS) has no boundaries. The same symptoms have also been found among Australians who have experienced this same depravation of God’s word.

It might be the greatest story ever told, but Bible literacy is slipping and not just among atheists. Devout churchgoers, especially Catholics, are losing touch with the scriptures of their faith, research shows.

Of those Australians who go to church, 21 per cent read their Bible daily, 14 per cent open it a few times a week and 6 per cent once a week.

But 24 per cent said they read their Bibles only occasionally, 18 per cent hardly ever and 17 per cent said they never read the Bible on their own as a private devotional activity, according to the research, which is based on the 2006 National Church Life Survey of 500,000 people who attended church from 22 denominations.  ‘Confessions: fewer know their bible’


The most alarming studies from Brad Waggoner’s Spiritual Formation Inventory (SFI) have revealed that (SDS) has crossed ‘the pond’ and has not only manifest itself in churches across America, but seems to be thriving; yes, (SDS) is alive and well.

In a new book by Waggoner, ‘The Shape of Faith to Come’, Waggoner surveyed – in May 2007 and again in May 2008 – 2,500 Protestants who attend church on a regular basis. Using an evaluation tool called the Spiritual Formation Inventory (SFI), he evaluated seven domains of spiritual formation among the respondents.

The seven domains measured include..

  • learning truth,
  • obeying God 
  • denying self
  • serving God and others
  • sharing Christ
  • exercising faith
  • seeking God
  • building relationships

“The research that led to this book is a wake-up call for anyone who is serious about the biblical mandate to make disciples,” Waggoner said.

Among the book’s findings:
— Only 16 percent of Protestant churchgoers read their Bible daily and another 20 percent read it “a few times a week.”
— 23 percent “agreed strongly” with the statement, “When I come to realize that some aspect of my life is not right in God’s eyes, I make the necessary changes.”
— Among evangelicals, 70 percent have identified their primary spiritual gifts through a class, spiritual gifts inventory or some other process.
— In the past six months, 29 percent of respondents said they shared with someone how to become a Christian twice or more, 14 percent once and 57 percent not at all.
— 47 percent of Protestant churchgoers admitted to just “going through the motions” often during the singing and prayer portions of worship services. One-quarter strongly disagreed that they merely go through the motions.
— Fasting was perhaps the most neglected spiritual discipline, with 80 percent of respondents saying they had not fasted during the past six months.

American Protestants deviate from biblical discipleship standards

The symptoms associated with (SDS) can be seen throughout the church in America. She is wretched, miserable, poor, blind and naked. But this most recent study has revealed that there is a spiritual deception that is associated with this violent spiritual disease.

When surveyed one year later, the churchgoers evidenced very little change in overall discipleship or spiritual formation. However, a majority believed they had grown spiritually over the course of the year.

“We discovered a problem with these self-perceptions for growth or decline,” Waggoner writes. “Fifty-five percent of our respondents believed they had grown spiritually in the last year. However, based on SFI scores, only 3.5 percent showed a statistically significant level of growth.”

We see the first hint of (SDS) was found in a church in Laodicea around the turn of the first century…

And unto the angel of the church of the Laodiceans write; These things saith the Amen, the faithful and true witness, the beginning of the creation of God; I know thy works, that thou art neither cold nor hot: I would thou wert cold or hot. So then because thou art lukewarm, and neither cold nor hot, I will spue thee out of my mouth. Because thou sayest, I am rich, and increased with goods, and have need of nothing; and knowest not that thou art wretched, and miserable, and poor, and blind, and naked: I counsel thee to buy of me gold tried in the fire, that thou mayest be rich; and white raiment, that thou mayest be clothed, and [that] the shame of thy nakedness do not appear; and anoint thine eyes with eyesalve, that thou mayest see. As many as I love, I rebuke and chasten: be zealous therefore, and repent.Behold, I stand at the door, and knock: if any man hear my voice, and open the door, I will come in to him, and will sup with him, and he with me.  To him that overcometh will I grant to sit with me in my throne, even as I also overcame, and am set down with my Father in his throne. He that hath an ear, let him hear what the Spirit saith unto the churches. Revelations 3:14-22

In the midst of complex calculations and formulas, Waggoner reports that the No. 1 catalyst for spiritual growth is simple: daily Bible reading. If pastors emphasize Bible reading and church members do it, Christians can expect progress, he writes.

Study to show thyself approved unto God. A workman that needeth not be ashamed, rightly dividing the word of truth!



  1. If we woul read the Bible frequently those things that happens recently in the 9/11 and 9/12 would not take us by surprise. Those events have a striking paralelism with 9-11 and 9-12 verses in the Bible. http://www.9/

  2. Thanks Sam for stopping by ‘A Word From Malachi’. It is apparent to me that America is so spiritually distraught that she is left to nothing but the pending judgement of God. We are a nation that has forsaken God and His word.

    You are correct, if one studies the word of God, they shall not find this pending judgment a surprise, nor where it (the persectuion) shall proceed from.

    Thanks for reading this post and stay grounded in the Word of God.

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