The number of nondenominational churches has increased following the disenfranchisement of several conservative churches. And with people seeking non-traditional ways of worship. This has further led to more people figuring out how to join the new churches and what bibles they’ll need. Therefore, this post answers the question, what bible translations do nondenominational churches use?
The majority of the nondenominational churches have adopted bible versions or translations such as the ESV (English Standard Version), NIV (New International Version), NASB (New American Standard), NKJV (the New King James Version), KJV (King James Version), and the NLT Bible or (New Living Bible), among others. These churches also make use of other readable bible translations.
But why exactly do these churches use different versions of the Bible? What differentiates these bible versions from those used by the conservative and traditional churches? Keep reading to learn more.
Do nondenominational churches use the exact bible translation as other Christians?
This isn’t often the case.
Often, the nondenominational churches make use of different bible translations from what’s used by other churches, mainly the traditional churches. The primary reason for this is that secularized churches don’t want to be associated with traditional protestant churches like Methodist, Lutheran, Episcopalian, Baptist, and even the Assemblies of God. It’s also worth noting that the individuals behind the nondenominational churches find that failure to partner with the established churches is a lot more beneficial to them. Some translations are word-for-word, others are translated based on perceived thoughts.
The secular churches don’t live by the completely new bible structure. If anything, these churches have more similarities than differences, including that the nondenominational and conservative protestant churches all use the Bible or a version of it. With regards to the Bible, therefore, it is worth noting that the non-denomination groups also use the Bible, just a revised version of the Bible.
Additionally, thanks to the autonomous state these non-traditional churches run by, there is no uniformity regarding the versions and translations of the Bible they use. So, depending on the church’s leadership structure, the churches often settle on the bible translations that are much more understandable and accurate hence the popularity of the NIV, NKJV, NLT, ESV, KJV, and NASB bible versions.
How do you choose a bible translation as a nondenominational church member?
Members of nondenominational churches often use specific bible versions from the list above. In many cases, however, the church members find themselves using a specific bible version without understanding the reason for the translations or even the fact that the Bible they use is a translation. This tends to be the case because the church members receive the bibles as gifts from their churches. They get into them instantly, without questioning the version of the Bible used.
Although there’s no harm in reading a bible without knowledge of the version of the Bible used, understanding its version or translation is wise because it ensures that one not only reads an accurate translation of the Bible but also makes sure that one is reading the right version of the Bible.
With this in mind, how does someone determine the bible translation they should consider?
Choose to read the Bible version used by the pastor or the church.
Most members of nondenominational churches use the bible version recommended to them by the church pastor or, in some cases, the version of the Bible that the church’s pastor uses. This is often the case with most churchgoers, thanks to their trust in their pastors. It is often the easiest way for churchgoers to follow the preaching.
Additionally, settling on the bible translation used by the pastor and the trust held, the church members often consider the version selected to be the most accurate. This bible version is often regarded as the easiest for church members to understand.
Choose the bible translation used by a small group or their Sunday School
The other way that members choose a version to use in the non-traditional church often involves settling on the version of the Bible that they have always used because they trust the close relationships formed through the years, especially for relationships that have been shared for a long time among the believers of the church.
The Bible translations in these churches tend to be projected on big screens while the pastor preaches. When this happens, the church members automatically use the church’s bible translation. This is also the case for believers in bible study; they often use the same version or translation of the Bible.
Members choosing the bible translation perceived to be the most accurate
The other way that the members of the nondenominational churches choose or settle on a bible translation is by choosing the bible version known for its emphasis on accuracy. In such cases, a bible translation is settled based on the use of the words, sentences, and thoughts, especially how the words are translated from one language to the other.
In addition to bibles that emphasize accuracy, the members of the secular churches also pay attention to the readability of the Bible or the ease with which a version of the Bible is easy to read and understand.
The readability of the Bible
As mentioned above, church members and churches also tend to settle on a version of a bible based on how easy it is to read. This is a crucial factor to bear in mind thanks to the assumption that the most accurate bible versions are the least readable versions – and that the opposite is true.
However, it’s worth noting that just because a version of the bible translation comes off as less accurate doesn’t mean that the bible version shouldn’t be trusted. The difference lies in the translation and use of words, but not the inherent meaning of the Bible.
In the case of the NASB or KJV bible versions, for instance, they are deemed the most accurate since the words are as close to the original words of the scripture, albeit measuring in at the 11th or the 12th-grade level of reading.
Differences between the ESV, NIV, NLT, NKJV, KJV, or NASB
The ESV version of the Bible has been translated word for word, and the writing’s readability level is that of 8th-grade readers. This Bible version was published in 2001, and this English Standard Version represents a reworked version of the RSV (Revised Standard Version) from 1971. It’s worth noting that conservative evangelical scholars made the ESV bible version, so it is not surprising to see that the ESV is quite popular among conservative evangelical readers.
With 7th-grade readability and thought-for-thought translation methodologies, the NIV version of the Bible is quite popular. The complete NIV text first appeared in 1978 and now boasts the highest volume in terms of readability among conservative evangelists.
The King James Version is one of the oldest versions of the Bible, with its earliest appearance dating back to 1611. It’s been through numerous revisions, even though it’s readable at a 12th-grade level. KJV Bible isn’t just popular in the secular churches but also in the traditional protestant churches.
The first version of the NKJV bible dates back to 1982, and it has a 9th-grade readability level. The Bible’s been translated word for word but as an updated version of the KJV. This is the standard version of the Bible for the Lutheran, Baptist, Methodist, Presbyterian, and AOG churches.
With a much more complex 11th-grade readability level, strict literal word-for-word translation, and the fact that it’s described as a bible with a formal equivalence, NASB isn’t as popular. Its first appearance was in 1971; it wasn’t until 1995 that the Bible’s sections were improved for clarity and updates to the obsolete parts. For anyone who prefers a bible with word-for-word translations, this might be the ideal Bible.
The New Living Translation bible is the most readable version of the non-traditional Bible with 6th-grade readability. Its translation boasts a dynamic equivalence, with most parts paraphrased for maximum clarity. This Bible also represents an updated LT or Living Translation bible. It was reworded from the ASB in 1901 by up to 90 scholars before its publication in 1996.
How do nondenominational bible translations differ from popular bible translations?
With over 100 bible translations, all in English, it might be challenging to determine what Bible to use, mainly if you belong to a nondenominational church. However, there are differences between the bible translations used by conservative churches and modern, secularized churches.
While the NLT, NASB, KJV, NKJV, NIV, and ESV represent the bible versions used by many of the nondenominational churches, other bibles are used by the traditional churches. The main differences lie in the number of chapters in the Old Testament and the words used.
The standard bibles used by the traditional churches include the Good News Bible (which features a version for the Roman Catholics), the Christian Standard Bible (/HCSB/CSB), CEB or Common English Bible, Contemporary English Version, The Message, New Jerusalem Bible, and the Revised English Bible.
It’s also worth noting that while most of the bible versions above feature the deuterocanonical books, NIV, NASB, NLT, the Message, and CSB bible versions don’t have the five additional books.
As a devout Christian, I have always been passionate about the Christian faith. This inspired me to pursue a degree in Religious studies and a Masters in Theology in college. I have also been privileged to teach 4 Christian courses in a college and university. Since I am dedicated to spreading the word of God, I am actively involved in the Church. Additionally, I share his word online and cover diverse topics on the Christian faith through my platform. You can read more about me on the about us page.