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.
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