CreativityEngaging Culture

What’s the Next Gideon Bible Idea?

I think it’s time to revisit this post I did a couple of years ago when I was interviewed on about the presence of Bibles in hotel rooms. Since the Gideons started the idea in 1899, they have become a global organization impacting millions of people. As I say in the article, it was a brilliant back idea then to place copies of the Bible in millions of hotel rooms, but in today’s pluralistic society, everyone else is going to want equal time. I travel about 150,000 miles a year, and in most hotels I already find a Book of Mormon next to the Bible. Before long, I predict we’ll find a Koran, Tao, Torah, I Ching, Writings of Confucius, and more. Pretty soon, there won’t be room for a bed.  So the big question becomes –

What’s the next great idea?  What’s the “Gideon Bible” idea for the digital age? Read the article and let me know your thoughts. In a digital age, what can we do that is subtle, and yet powerful, comforting, and offers a message of hope?

I’d love to hear your ideas…

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  1. Are we trying to make a cultural statement or aiming for personal impact?

    When the Gideon Bible movement was instituted it was evangelistic and I'm sure that would still characterize the intent.  However, the impact now is being measured in terms of what it says about us as a society and that is what what is now introducing the idea of pluralism and equal time.  I'm sure stories are still out there of people in crisis in a motel room reaching for the Bible in the drawer and I'm glad it is there.

    I think the greater statements and impact are going to be made by those churches and organizations who move beyond cultural statements looking backward to those who "get over" the idea that we're a Christian society (which we by and large are no longer) and who find a way to use new technology to reach people and minister to them where they are hurting and need assistance.

    Most children today do not live in two parent homes.  How many churches reflect that in their membership composition?  How many single parents are being actively ministered to by a local church?

    Whether it is a local church looking outside the walls and finding people's lives to plug into or a ministery organization that packages financial counselling, help getting over an addiction or any other number of organizations, with so much noise competing for people's attention, it will be those who reach people where they are, using a "rifle" instead of a "shotgun" (like a bible in every hotel room) who will see the most results, in my opinion. 

    The media is breaking into smaller more targetted components.  The new mediums are creating new dynamics, but it is the same truth that guides outreach; Love people like Christ loves them, meet them where they are, care, help, reach then teach that are going to make a difference.

  2. "get over" the idea that we're a Christian society (which we by and large are no longer)

    Have you ever spent any extended period of time outside of America?  Every time I travel outside the country, I realize that there is a Biblical underpinning upon which our entire society is built, and there are morals and principles woven into our every day life.  Whether or not all American's abide by them is another debate.

    But when you compare American to other nations such as Japan, where its not unusual for a businessman to stop by the local cathouse or to spend hours in a casino each night, you see how America still is a Christian nation.  Sure there are Americans that practice those things as well, but it's not the norm.  There is still a feeling in our society that those things are wrong. In non-Christian nations you can feel the darkness and oppression.  It's tangible.  America is different.

    Are we all Christians?  No.  Is there evil in America?  Sure.  Have our morals and principles been erroded over the yeas?  Without a doubt.

    But there are some Christian values that are so deeply ingrained into our society, that other nations have never had that affect every day life.  That is why America is still a Christian nation.

  3. Gentleman, these were two very good comments/posts…each having sensible, thoughtfilled points.

    There are those who are trying to "dumb down" America as a Christian nation but we (U.S.A.) are who we are to the world because of our Christian heritage.  That Christian heritage and presence has produced our freedoms, the written insignia on our currency, success in economics and a host of other accolades that most of the rest of the world does not enjoy on a daily basis.

    People are searching for truth and as long as there is a Bible near…Gideon or some other…then that is what is important.  Look at the Chinese that savor just one piece of a Bible page.  In our cyber age with, "In the last days I will pour out my Spirit upon all flesh," I believe there is hope whether it is digital or the printed page.

  4. We may be getting off track here a bit.  If you want to discuss the "Christian Nation" thing, you can do that here:

    Personally, I don't think calling us a Christian nation helps the situation at all – in fact, as I mention in that linked post, it actually hurts us.  The question here is – Christian nation or not – what's the next idea that accomplishes what the Gideon project did?  How do we share that message with people – in this case travelers – without being in your face?  How do we position our message so that in a time of need it's there?  The Gideon strategy was brilliant for it's time, but in a pluralistic culture with competing voices, perhaps we need to re-think.  Ideas, ladies and gentlemen?

  5. Okay, just brain storming here, so it might just be a thought that leads to another better developed thought. The criteria first would be something for free, an object or act of service with no strings attached. Something a traveler would appreciate having, a nice thoughtful gift or unexpected service. When I travel, I always want bottled water in the room, but the hotel is charging $2.50 each for the ones sitting there on the desk. What if a “Gideon” type group decided to supply each room with something a traveler would appreciate having, as a gift, with no strings attached. Like two bottles of fresh, spring water. The temptation would be to make the label on the bottle shout Christian slogans, but I think it would be more powerful to make the label classy, without churchy slogans, and just a small, subtle reference, “A Gift from the Gideons” for instance, and a website address. ****Side note: has videos under “Another Life Changed” with clips from people who have found the Gideon-placed Bibles and New Testaments and experienced a transformation in their lives.

  6. I don't know who pays for the time but I have seen some really good spots on MTV for a number that you call 1-800-Need-Him, I called the number and a man on the message lead me in a pray to except Jesus thought both the ad spots and the phone message were done really well… Who knows maybe there on to something…

  7. In the early days, most Gideons were traveling businessmen, and it is still an evangelical association of professional men of various Christian faiths. The organization decided in 1908 to provide a Bible to every hotel room in America — a somewhat easier proposition a century ago, when there were about 800,000 rooms, compared to nearly 4.5 million today.

  8. Christianity is evangelistic in nature , but I dont believe the other religions mentioned are so driven to spread their own good news. Not worried about equal time for every voice, then.

  9. In the early days, most business Gideons were traveling, and it is always a Gospel of the association of men of various Christian denominations. The organization decided in 1908, a Bible in every hotel room in America – a proposal a little more than a century, as the number of 800,000 rooms, compared to nearly 4.5 million today.

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  11. My wife and I lived in South Asia for a couple of years, and traveled throughout Asia. In Thailand, hotels had both a Gideon Bible and a collection of Buddhist wisdom. In fact, one of the cities in northern Thailand is home to the Buddhist equivalent to a mission agency, focused on spreading Buddhism. Other beliefs are already using that approach!

  12. In terms of the question, “What is today’s Gideon’s Bible?”, I think there are opportunities for Christians to look for creative ways to give people opportunities to connect people to the gospel and God’s Word. One complaint that is common to many people who stay in hotels is the extortionate rates for wifi in hotels. Is there some way we cold meet a need there? Similarly, with roaming 3G services. What could Christians do to meet these needs, that could function as a gateway to the Bible or gospel conversations?

  13. The next Gideon moment is the Amazon one. Amazon has already begun cutting deals with hotels to replace the bibles with Kindles which are pre-loaded with any faith book desired, and would also have limited browsing and hotel service functionality. In a sense, that “be synomous with a presence” moment is gone.

    The next moment will possibly include augmented reality, if its tech. Or, would be something more like headphones or a room that blocks out all noise for the cause of meditation and tech/media decompression.

  14. Phil, Although I do not speak on behalf of the Gideons International, I’ve been an active member of the ministry for over 10 years. I also traveled quite extensively for over 30 years. If you are finding the Book of Mormon next to the Gideon Bible in your nightstand drawer, then you must be staying in Marriott properties. i.e. Farfield Inn, Residents Inn, Courtyard, Ritz-Carlton, Springhill and TownePlace Suites, etc. I read several years ago that 50% of the profits from Marriott went to the Morman Church. Just Googled this:
    What you may not know about the Gideons International is that it is made up of over 250,000 volunteer business and professional men and their wives in 192 countries who volunteer their time and resources to place God’s word in people’s hands and places where people go. i.e. Hospitals, nursing homes, women’s shelters, crises preganancy centers, jails, prisons, schools, colleges, and professional offices.

  15. My idea –I would love to see inspirational books in hotels and a multiple array of places — books such as my book: “Joy For The Journey ~ Heart Expressions: A Poetic Celebration, published by PublishAmerica 2012. Thank you for your consideration. Author – Nolanda Love

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