Bible Engagement Blog: JumpIntoTheWord

Read, Reflect, Respond


1 Comment

Bible Engagement Among Youth

Our youth are arguably the most distracted generation of all time. Information changes daily, new technology constantly competes for their attention, interactive games are at their finger tips, and music is hard wired into their ears. Social media consumes them, the film industry entertains them, pornography entices them, and Red Bull gives them wings!

Youth culture is geared to the fast and the casual. Nothing is static. Life is measured by its cost and benefits. There is little to no advanced planning. Selfies authenticate their existence. Possibilities and options are constantly being explored. And apart from school, sport, or work, structured activities are rare.

So how do we invite youth to engage with the Bible when their culture doesn’t allow them to be still or slow down long enough to read? And how do we invite youth to engage with the Bible when they expect everything to be engaging and exciting?

Here are some comments, guidelines and suggestions gleaned from seasoned youth workers:

  • Know that engaging young people with the Bible is hard work!
  • Be seen to be personally engaged with the Bible (“If the leaders of young people are not engaging with the Bible, the clear message to those they influence is that the Bible is not important.” Adrian Blenkinsop)
  • Frequently talk about and share insights from your daily Bible reading and reflections
  • Share (in appropriate ways and at appropriate times) your own struggles and questions with understanding some of the Bible
  • Encourage youth to read the Bible personally and help them apply it to life (most churches aren’t doing this!)
  • Recognise that most youth are not wired for the sustained effort required for regular Bible reading and therefore need considerable help
  • Explain the benefits of Bible reading/reflection and give compelling reasons for why they should make the effort
  • Generate robust discussions about the Scriptures and encourage hard honest questions
  • Facilitate discussion groups that create a micro-climate for discovery and shared learning
  • Invite youth to share their ideas, opinions and questions about a passage
  • Provision youth with different entry points into the Bible e.g. Manga Bible, MP3 formats, audio versions, and anything that doesn’t require a lot of reading!
  • Build a sense of confidence in the Bible by teaching how the different books and stories of the Bible fit together within the meta-narrative
  • Provide simple interpretative tools that enable youth to develop the skills to understand the text, ask good questions of it and reflect on it themselves
  • Equip and encourage parents to regularly read and discuss the Scriptures with their children (most parents leave it to the “professionals”)

Have your say. What helps youth engage with the Bible?

© Scripture Union Canada 2014


1 Comment

Ten Bible Engagement Facts Every Pastor Needs To Know

Here are ten key Bible engagement facts* every pastor needs to know:

  1. Bible engagement and church attendance are inextricably linked
  2. People who read the Scriptures a few times a week will usually attend church frequently
  3. Local churches that major on Bible engagement are more likely to grow
  4. Bible engagement is the primary factor that sustains and nourishes faith
  5. Robust conversations about the Bible are strongly correlated with church health
  6. Christians are built-up spiritually primarily through conversations about the Scriptures
  7. When confidence in the Bible is nurtured, church attendance is strengthened
  8. If people don’t have confidence in the Bible, they probably won’t attend church
  9. People who believe the Bible is relevant to life are more likely to attend church
  10. People who believe the Bible is the “Word of God” are six times more likely to attend church weekly

With the above facts in mind, how should the local church be aligned to better facilitate and encourage Bible engagement? Pastors, here are ten practical suggestions:

  1. Encourage everyone in the congregation to regularly read and reflect on the Scriptures
  2. Equip people with Bible reading guides, plans and resources that help them develop and sustain daily Bible reading disciplines e.g., Scripture Union Guides
  3. Cultivate small groups that facilitate vigorous conversations about the Scriptures
  4. Promote, preach and teach the trustworthiness, relevance, usefulness, inspiration and uniqueness of the Bible
  5. Create opportunities or forums for people to discuss the weekly sermon and associated Scripture text
  6. Train people in public Scripture reading so that the Bible is read dynamically, clearly and compellingly
  7. Have Bibles available in the pew and actively encourage people to use them during services and gatherings
  8. Provide opportunities for people to publicly share how God strengthens, supports, comforts, inspires, informs or guides them by His Word
  9. Give everyone who doesn’t have a Bible an age appropriate easy to read version (maintain a supply of Bibles, advertise availability of free Bibles)
  10. Highlight the importance of Bible engagement with an annual program, quest or activity that the congregation does together e.g., E100 Challenge

 

*[The ten facts are gleaned from the research findings of the Canadian Bible Engagement Study (CBES). The CBES is the first ever comprehensive national study of why Canadians do or do not connect with the Bible. World-class market research company Angus Reid Strategies, led by Angus Reid, conducted the survey. The CBES sampled 4,500 Canadians regarding their use, beliefs about, and attitudes toward the Bible. You can download the CBES for free at www.bibleengagementstudy.ca]

© Scripture Union Canada 2014