We know that our time spent engaging with God by interacting with Him in the Bible is at the very heart of what we do as youth workers. Whether it's on a Sunday morning, Wednesday night, or in discipleship groups on another night of the week, it's essential that we're getting the most out of our time spent helping students know God through His Word. And yet, there are few things more frustrating than a group of students who just aren't engaged in our time of study.
We’ve all been there: You’ve done the prep work necessary to create a meaningful time of Bible study, but when the time comes to dig in and . . . You find yourself staring into a room full of mostly disengaged students.
It's no fun. And over time, it can lead to real frustration. What are a few ways you can get students engaged in your Bible study lessons? Glad you asked.
Allow them to influence topics or themes
Now, you can't go too far with this one. It's rarely a good idea to have your ENTIRE youth ministry Bible study strategy determined by the “felt needs” of our students. But it's a REALLY good idea to allow for blocks of your Bible study time to be influenced by your students. Ask them what they want to study, then craft or find a study that lines up with what they want to focus on. It creates a lot more buy-in to what they're studying when they have a say in it.
Enlist their help in teaching a passage.
Strategically involve students in your teaching time. This can range from directing students to gather and present the context for the passage you’ll be studying (i.e., author, date written, purpose for writing, etc.), to empowering a student to co-teach with you. As anyone who teaches knows, you become so much more deeply invested in a passage through preparing to teach. Involving students in your teaching time is a no-brainer when it comes to increasing involvement.
Have them lead discussion groups
Consider what it’s like to allow your students to lead application-oriented discussion questions after you lead the Bible study. You could walk them through questions beforehand and make sure they feel comfortable leading the discussion. This works especially well with older students leading younger student groups.
Encourage them to create content around the lesson
Teenagers are native content creators. Empower your students to create ancillary or supporting content for your lessons. Maybe have students write short devotions and put them up on Instagram. Have a student shoot a video to help introduce your time of study. Have them write a spoken word piece. Have them create images you can display. Empower them to decorate your space with a theme that flows out of your content. Whatever the case, having students develop elements that support your lesson is a great way to get them involved.
Hopefully, these three, simple tips will make a difference in your engagement. If you have suggestions, share them with the YM360 Community in the comment section.