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