NRB member Back to the Bible, a worldwide ministry that partners with the Center for Bible Engagement to provide research and statistics on biblical engagement and spiritual growth, exists to help ministries and individuals move “closer to Jesus today than yesterday.” Back to the Bible encourages believers in “life transformation,” building them up as they honor God, value others, champion the Bible, advance the Gospel, and promote the practice of stewardship.
The ministry was founded in 1939 by Theodore Epp in the great plains of Lincoln, Nebraska. After experiencing a great need for sound biblical teaching, Epp began airing teaching material across the Midwest. Epp’s 30-minute radio segment, “Back to the Bible,” aired five days a week on more than 800 radio stations worldwide.
“This was the heyday of radio and Back to the Bible took every opportunity to make the most of it, filling the days between Sundays with compelling biblical messages and live music performances,” said Back to the Bible CEO Arnie Cole. “Back to the Bible even had its own printing press for publishing teaching series that would help disciple thousands of people over the years.”
After stepping down, Epp was followed by other noted Bible teachers such as author and theologian Dr. Warren Wiersbe and pastor and speaker Dr. Woodrow Kroll. Noting Wiersbe as one of his heroes of the faith, Cole said, “Warren was the real deal, a humble servant, and an amazing communicator of God’s truths. He was the same whether he was talking to a room full of powerful people or the janitor in the hallway––he truly saw people as individuals.”
In 2003, Back to the Bible founded the Center for Bible Engagement as its research division to address spiritual practices and develop tools and resources that lead to life transformation.
“We looked at over 100 different spiritual practices, including Bible teaching on radio, that caused us to make a big shift in our ministry. From broadcasting to digital discipleship,” said Cole. “We found there was one spiritual practice that truly made a difference in people’s lives. We call it the Power of 4. In short, it’s the astounding difference that engaging God’s Word, reading what the Bible has to say, reflecting on it, and responding to it in your life, makes on a person’s life. We have statistics like this: After engaging the Bible four or more times a week, individuals are 60 percent less likely to feel spiritually stagnant. They’re 59 percent less likely to view pornography, and they’re 238 percent more likely to share their faith with others!”
“At Back to the Bible, we don’t have the ability to automatically know everything Jesus knew about the people He ministered to. Frankly, neither does any other ministry. But through research, we can discover some important information,” Cole added. “In fact, through our digital apps, we can assess and track the spiritual landscape of a person and lead them forward according to what we call their ‘heart language.’ It’s what they speak to us and what we communicate back to them in order to meet their spiritual needs. This is where we see life transformation that goes far beyond just raising your hand and saying you want Jesus in your life. This is transformation that engages and transforms a person from sinner, to believer, to disciple-maker.”
For more than eighty years, Back to the Bible has stood for quality and innovation in Christian communications. Cole shared some advice and insights on developing excellence as Christian broadcasters and communicators.
“It’s not about you, the communicator. It’s about your audience and what their spiritual needs are,” said Cole. “We’ve seen many surprises in that area. What are they learning from your ministry? How is it changing or not changing their lives? Are they learning real truths about Jesus, or are they just enjoying what they believe Jesus is telling them? Are you just making them comfortable? We need to realize the stakes. In this present darkness, we can’t continue doing the same old thing without analyzing how you can truly be effective.”
On the challenges of reaching the next generation, Cole commented, “With the rise of spiritually dark algorithms that lead young people away from engaging with Christian content, we are going up against the likes of TikTok and other big tech companies and building an engagement algorithm and spiritual fitness platform that actually helps individuals move closer to Jesus based on where they are coming from spiritually.”
Back to the Bible has been an NRB member since 1989 and has received several NRB awards, including the 2012 Internet Award, the 1963 Award of Merit, the 2007 William Ward Ayer Award for Distinguished Service, and the 1989 Milestone Award.