JumpIntoTheWord

Bible Engagement Blog


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How to help youth get into the Word

I believe the great priority for Christian parents and the church is to impress the Scriptures on our children (cf. Deuteronomy 6:7). Here are some formative suggestions on how to help youth/teens get into the Word:

Help youth value Christ as Lord and Saviour. It’s a matter of first priorities. Before we teach youth the Word, we must connect them with the One who is the Word. Let’s not get the cart before the horse. When youth love the Lord, it follows that they’ll love His Word.

Teach youth that Bible reading is relational. When youth are told that they should read the Bible to know what’s right/wrong, we’re leading them up the garden path! The foremost reason why youth should read the Bible shouldn’t be to inform their morality, it should be to meet with God.

Acknowledge the difficulties. Youth need to know that Bible reading/reflecting can be challenging. Teach them how to press into a text, pray the Scriptures, and rely on the Holy Spirit.

Facilitate informational (analytical, critical, synthetic, inductive) and devotional (meditative, contemplative, creative) Bible reading methods. There’s no single method that’s ideal for every youth. Expose youth to a broad range of methodologies and encourage them to use the Bible reading methods they like the most.

Cut teaching time for reading time. Help youth discover how to rely on the Holy Spirit to teach them truth. Prompt them to ask questions. Speak less. The more opportunities youth are given to grapple with the Word and figure it out, the more they’ll grow in their capacity to learn and live out the Word.

Push youth to interact dynamically with the Bible. Bible times are only quiet times (literally) for some personality types. Engage all their senses and their imagination. Encourage youth to pray the psalms, act out Acts, grapple with Galatians, and wrestle with the Word. Help them get involved with the Scriptures both energetically and passionately.

Encourage routine and variety in their Bible reading. Youth need help developing realistic and regular patterns of behaviour. They also need to change up what they’re reading in the Bible (i.e., they should read from every literary genre and from both Testaments) in order to develop breadth and depth to their spirituality.

Connect their passions and interests to the Bible. Help them understand how their personal stories fit into God’s Story. One way of doing this is to invite them to bring their unrefined questions and struggles to the Bible – then show them how the Scriptures provide relevant answers and guidance for their lives.

Encourage youth to read/reflect on the Scriptures with their peers and with younger children. Confidence in the Word often grows when they’re given the responsibility to help someone else read/reflect the Bible.

Build accountability. Be a mentor. Personally help youth develop their capacity to read, reflect and respond to God’s Word. Check in regularly with them. Ask, “So what are you reading this week?” and “What are you hearing God say to you?” “As iron sharpens iron, so one person sharpens another” Proverbs 27:17.

Make sure the youth are reading from a version of the Bible that’s easy to read and age appropriate. The New Living Translation and the New International Version are eminently suitable for youth.

Help youth connect with the Bible in ways that don’t require a lot of reading. For example – Manga Bible, audio versions, video/film, comic strip, Kingstone Bible.

Equip youth with essential hermeneutical tools so that they can do basic interpretation and application.

Introduce challenges and competitions. Youth love to pit themselves against one another, e.g., Bible Jeopardy – http://www.christianity.com/trivia/jeopardy/

Have your say. What would you add?

© Scripture Union Canada 2017

2 Corinthians 4:5


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Connecting Millennials With The Bible

How can we help Millennials engage with the Bible? It begins with understanding who they are.

Millennials, also known as Generation Y or the Net Generation, are the cohort who reached adulthood around the turn of the 21st Century. While there are various proposed dates for Millennials, the earliest suggested birth date is 1976 and the latest 2004.

Millennials have grown up in a socially networked world, are tolerant of differences, are confident/positive, rely heavily on technology, and are generally optimistic. They can however be prone to entitlement/narcissism and hold unrealistic expectations that sometimes lead to disillusionment. A large percentage of Millennials are politically and religiously unaffiliated. They have more Facebook friends than any other generation, send a median of 50 texts a day, and post the most selfies.

Millennials are also wary of institutional religion, yet more likely than other generations to believe in the existence of a god. They are tolerant regarding sexual orientation, concerned about social justice, and more spiritual than religious.

So what are the practical things we can do to connect Millennials with the Bible? Here are some suggestions:

Demonstrate what works. Millennials want to know what works before they’ll accept it as truth. Exhibit Bible engagement methodologies in action and then invite Millennials to participate.

Start with their life questions. Millennials are more open to engaging with the Scriptures when the Bible engagement approach begins with the questions they’re asking. Recommended resource – Taste and See: An Invitation to Read the Bible.

Offer multiple choices. Millennials are consumers, they expect a range of alternatives. Provide them with a variety of Bible engagement resources, e.g., Lectio Divina, Inductive Bible Study Method, Praying the Bible, Lectio Continua, Bible Journaling, Spoken Word/Slam Poetry, etc.

Make needs based connections. Millennials have a burden for social needs and injustice/compassion issues in our world. Themed Bibles, e.g. God’s Justice, provide a doorway to Bible reading/reflection.

Utilize online resources. Introduce Millennials to YouVersion, Bible Gateway, theStory and other electronic Bible engagement guides, tools, resources.

Cultivate small groups that value transparency, vulnerability and authenticity. Create safe places for radical honesty. When Millennial values are not prioritized, it’s difficult to facilitate meaningful dialogue about the Scriptures.

Apply the Scriptures together. Millennials think in terms of community service and involvement. Link the Scriptures to practical service projects, i.e., give Millenials opportunities to serve and share what’s on their hearts.

Read from printed Bibles. While Millennials are techno-savvy and screen friendly, their preferred format for Bible reading is the book form.

Recognize that Christian Millennials have a high view of Scripture. They believe the Bible is the actual/inspired Word of God, is their greatest source for moral truth, and should hold a high or the highest priority in their life of faith. In contrast, non-Christian Millennials hold ambivalent or extremely negative views about the Bible.

Make connections with the big screen. The majority of Millennials have seen at least one biblically themed movie in the last year.

Post texts on social media. Millennials are more likely than any other generation to post and read scriptures on Twitter, Facebook, and Instagram (more than 80% posted scriptures online in the past year – Barna).

Facilitate the freedom to disagree. Millennials only feel safe to reveal and understand their inner selves when questions, doubts and differences are permissible.

Leverage relationships. We must live out the faith in order for Millennials to relate, i.e., practice and model what the Bible teaches.

How are you connecting Millennials with the Bible or how are you as a Millennial connecting with the Bible? Please comment/share what’s working for you …

© Scripture Union Canada 2017

2 Corinthians 4:5