Bible Engagement Blog: JumpIntoTheWord

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Passing the Baton

How do we engage young adults with the Bible? Or to phrase the question slightly differently, what can we do to help Millennials (those born between the early 1980’s and early 2000’s) connect  with the Scriptures?

To begin, we can’t continue doing what we used to do. Twenty-first Century young adults don’t think and act like their parents and grandparents. Marketing a cool new youth Bible or promoting a radical Bible reading plan really don’t work anymore. Different approaches and tools are required.

So if the models and paradigms of yesteryear don’t cut it, then what does? How do we create new strategies and resources that will capture young people’s attention and help them engage with the Bible?

Perhaps the first step is knowing that Millennials value authentic relationships, respect personal stories and experiences, prefer non-prescriptive interactive approaches, and enjoy opportunities to grow in understanding through discussion and partnership. They are also suspicious of the institutional church, wary of authorities, and distrust meta-narratives.

If the first step is to understand the core values of Millennials, then the second step is to be aware of how Millennials exist in and are defined by a digital world dominated by technology (unlike their parents who may be digital immigrants, young adults are digital natives). This generation are intrinsically linked to the devices and software they own and use. For many young adults, being offline or unable to interact on social media sites is intolerable!

Building on the first two steps, the third step may be one of advocacy (reestablishing the Bible’s relevance and credibility). Because Millennials distrust metanarratives and view the church with suspicion, their fears need to be allayed. This is a mammoth challenge. Confidence in the Bible has declined over many decades and it will probably take many years of collaborative efforts to reverse the decline.

Closely associated with the need for advocacy is the need to discover new ways to help Millennials read/hear/see/experience the Bible. Before a young adult will use the Bible they have to be exposed to it in ways that are multi-sensory, tie in with their core values, and build relational trust.

Finally, the strategies and resources that are developed to help Millennials engage with the Bible should facilitate the following:

  • online and face to face connexity
  • dialogue, questioning and sharing
  • discovery of truth and meaning
  • sharing of stories and experiences
  • living out the biblical faith

How does this fit with your perspective? Join the discussion. Make a comment.

© Scripture Union Canada 2014


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Preaching and Teaching

I love to read, study, teach and preach the Word. But looking back on more than three decades of ministry I realize I could have done more to help others develop confidence in the Word, build community focused on the Word, and encourage conversations about the Word.

So what can teachers and preachers do to promote confidence in, community around, and conversations about the Word? Consider the following:

Read the Scriptures every time you teach or preach the Word. Don’t cut out or truncate the reading of the Word to make more time for what you want to say. The Word of God should always be the main point, not the footnote of the lesson or sermon.

Public reading of the Scriptures should be done with conviction, enthusiasm, passion, fluency and expression. Worship teams/choirs practice their singing – Scripture readers should likewise practice their reading.

God’s Word is holy. Read it with reverence. At the conclusion of a public reading say something like, “Hear the Word of the Lord” or “These are the most important words you will hear today.”

Be prayerful. Before you preach/teach ask God to address and apply the Word to your heart and life. When you preach/teach begin with the prayer, “Lord speak to us, we’re listening . . .” or “May these words of my mouth and this meditation of my heart be pleasing in your sight, Lord, my Rock and my Redeemer” Psalm 19:14 (NIV).

“Preach the Word” (2 Timothy 4:2), not your ideas, philosophy, or personal agenda. Make every effort to weave the Scriptures through every facet of what you say. Emphasize the Scriptures by saying, “The Word says . . .” or “In . . . God says . . .”

Teach the whole canon of Scripture. Don’t reduce the Bible to a canon within the canon by only preaching/teaching your favourite books, texts or stories. “All Scripture is God-breathed and is useful for teaching, rebuking, correcting and training in righteousness” 2 Timothy 3:16 (NIV).

Preach and teach all the major themes of the Bible. Over the course of time your group/congregation/class should learn/understand the meta-narrative of (creation, fall, redemption and consummation) and how events are still unfolding.

Let the Word speak for itself. Don’t overshadow it with your stories, presentation style, exegetical prowess, “wisdom and eloquence” (1 Corinthians 1:17), creativity or personality. And don’t distract from it by lack of preparation, personal reservations, luke-warmness, academic arrogance or intellectual presumption.

Never forget that it’s the Holy Spirit who gives life and power to the Word – enabling the listener to hear the Word and live it out. Only God can speak and sustain His Word. The role of the preacher or teacher is to serve as a conduit (cf. 1 Corinthians 2:4-5) – nothing more and nothing less.

Remember that God’s Word is far more important than anything we can ever say about it. The primary aim of all preaching and teaching should be to equip others to actively indwell, engage and get caught up in receiving and reenacting the Word (cf. 1 Corinthians 4:20 NLT).

What do you think? Would you add or subtract anything?

© Scripture Union Canada 2014