The Right Approach To Bible Study In Your Youth Ministry
At ym360, creating Bible Study resources is really the foundation of what we do. We do other stuff, such as Training, Networking, and engaging with the (growing) ym360 Community of youth workers. But helping youth workers facilitate transformational times of Bible Study is what gets us out of bed each morning.
Lately, we've been in a "busier than usual" production cycle. We've been fairly immersed in the role of the Bible in youth ministry lately. Which, you know, isn't a bad thing at all!
First, I was blessed to get to write an essay for the excellent book, Two Sides: Finding What Fits Your Youth Ministry (available any day now from Group/Simply Youth Ministry) in which I make the case for Bible-centered, expositional teaching in youth ministry.
Next, we're releasing a brand new book in the next few weeks entitled The 7 Best Practices of Teaching Teenagers the Bible. Details are coming. You're going to love it!
Finally, we're getting ready for the workshops we'll be leading at the Simply Youth Ministry Conference in a few weeks. One of them comes from the strategies in the 7 Best Practices book. The other workshop is kind of a Bible Study 101 that looks at all things Bible Study for youth ministry: how to think about a comprehensive philosophy, a look at what curriculum is available, and how to craft series and lessons from scratch. See? I told you . . . That's a lot of Bible!:) All this focus on the Bible and youth ministry led me to articulate something I had sort of internally understood for a while, I think, but hadn't really put into words until recently. What I realized was this:
We often swing the Bible Study pendulum to two different extremes, both of them missing the real purpose.
On one extreme I see youth workers take a verse here and a verse there to build a culture-saturated lesson high on cool points but low on God. This extreme feels fun and interactive. But, when we embrace this extreme, we miss the point. On the other extreme I see youth workers teach the Bible like it were some sort of a self-help handbook, where the focus is on finding verses that address specific behaviors of their students. The problem with this is one of motivation.If we're not careful we create an us-centered, legalistic mindset where God comes in second to what WE can or should do. Both of these extremes come from a place of good-intentions but, as I said, they miss the point.
So what is the better way?
Your ideal approach to Bible Study should be about one thing: leading students to encounter God and His ways in His Word. It is a Christ-centered, God-driven approach to knowing God through the Bible. After all, God gave us His Word so we could know Him, not so we could launch into feel-good pop culture narratives. And not so we can teach a "salvation" of self-sufficient morality.
Here's the deal . . . if we make leading students to God the primary purpose of our time in Bible Study, we won't have to worry about relevance. God transcends relevance! And the good or bad things our students do won't be our motivation. Why? When they know God, when they truly know Him, they will be motivated to live like Him out of LOVE! At ym360, this message is our heartbeat! We hope you can see this in the way we create our Bible Study Resources, in how we craft our Free Lessons, and in other resources, such as the upcoming Book line we're launching. We are so extremely passionate about your students encountering God through engaging with the Bible. It's what motivates us to do what we do.
If this message resonates with you, and if you find yourself needing a fresh approach to how YOU do Bible Study, as a resourcing organization we'd love to help . . .
We've coupled the following three Bible Books together to give your students an amazing picture of who God is and how His ways are to be lived out:
- JOHN teaches students the identity of Christ and the purpose of His mission.
- JAMES shows your students what a life of active faith looks like, and,
- COLOSSIANS, challenges your students to live a Christ-focused life where all they are and all they do flows from Christ in them.
So, as you seek to lead your students closer to God and His ways through engaging with the Bible, we want to support and equip you. That's why we'd love for you to sample the Bible Book Study Trio from ym360.