6 Ways We Can Develop The Discipline Of Scripture Study In Our Teenagers
I love this quote by Thomas Brooks, the Puritan preacher and author:
“The Word of the Lord is a light to guide you, a counselor to counsel you, a comforter to comfort you, a staff to support you, a sword to defend you, and a physician to cure you. The Word is a mine to enrich you, a robe to clothe you, and a crown to crown you.”
If knowing God is our chief aim as humans, then we must know God's Word. As I have written here before (and will again, I imagine), while we can know God through means other than the Bible, God's Word is the primary way God has chosen to make Himself known to us. It is impossible to have a full and saving knowledge of God and His ways apart from a knowledge of His Word. We can't know God if we don't know His Word. Which begs the question: Do your students know God's Word?
The sad fact is that many of our students do not. Study after study shows that the overwhelming majority of Christian teenagers in the US aren’t reading their Bibles. Only about 1 in 5 have a regular, meaningful relationship with God’s Word. Most Christian teenagers rarely touch
their Bibles, with another nearly 1 in 5 who report never reading their Bibles at all in a given year. For the most part, teenagers in America cannot articulate the basic tenets of their faith. They do not know what they believe. They cannot distinguish between the foundational elements that make their faith unique from other faiths.
When we consider that the Bible is the MAIN way God has chosen to make Himself known to us, this is a particularly alarming truth. How can students follow what they don't know? I believe that as youth workers, we’re in the perfect position to change that.
With that in mind, here are six ways we can develop in our teenagers the discipline of Scripture study!
1. Teach That God’s Word Is Valuable.
In many cases, you may be the most prominent Christian adult your students have the opportunity to observe. Unless your students see you valuing God's Word, chances are they won't value it. Teach students that knowing God through His Word is imperative to their faith.
2. Re-Think Your Strategy.
When your students leave your youth group, what will they know about God through the Bible? Will they know some of the main attributes of God? Will they understand the big picture narrative of redemption that starts in Genesis and ends in Revelation? Will they understand the relationship between the Old Testament and the New? Will they know the main "characters" and their place in the biblical story? Will they have a basic grasp of biblical theology? Ask yourself what you want a college freshman to know about God and His Word, then plan in reverse. Let this shape your youth ministry.
3. Re-Think Your Programs.
Call me overly simplistic, but I think the aim of each program in our ministries should be aimed at helping teenagers become followers of Christ. As I have pretty well stated, I think this happens
through knowing and living out God's Word. In that vein, what if you evaluated your programs to see if they met with this aim? Consider how effective your large group and/or small groups are at teaching students the Word and how to apply it. Do you have any sort of incentive or emphasis on Scripture memorization? Do you make sure you do strong biblical lead-ins and follow-ups for all of your service-oriented events? Are you providing resources for your students' parents to be intentional about teaching Scripture at home? Look at your programming through the lens of teaching students the Bible. See how it matches up.
4. Create “Bible Saturated” Environments.
Make Scripture a part of everything you do. Make sure your "talks" or "lessons" are aimed at drawing students closer to God through a knowledge and application of His Word. Let your students choose their favorite Bible verses and create posters to go all around your meeting place. Choose a theme verse for each year and print t-shirts with it on them. Have a verse of the week you send out through text or Facebook. Allow Scripture to permeate your environment.
5. Learn To Teach The Bible.
Teaching the Bible effectively is something that takes a good bit of intentionality and practice. There are a lot of great books, blogs, podcasts, classes, and online trainings out there that can help. Take the time to invest in learning how to better teach Scripture. The dividends in the lives of your students are worth every moment you spend learning how to teach.
6. Think Outside The Church.
The discipline of biblical study truly happens outside the relatively small amount of time you have with your students. Are you equipping them to know how to study the Bible on their own? Are you challenging them to do so? Are you holding them accountable with encouragement?
These are just a few suggestions on how to create an environment where knowing the Bible is a discipline that is valued and emphasized.
Share your thoughts with others in our YM360 community:
- How are you teaching students the discipline of Scripture Study in your ministry? How is the importance of students knowing God through His Word reflected in your strategy, programs, and environments?
- In what ways are you equipping your students to know how to study the Bible on their own? How are you challenging them to do so? What ideas have you found helpful for you in holding them accountable?
Note: This post was originally published in October 2010 and has been revamped and edited for this reposting.
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