Have you ever been overwhelmed with how impossible it feels to teach students—in the short amount of time you have with them—all the riches that are in the Bible?
In Unleashing God’s Word in Youth Ministry, Barry Shafer makes a case for the importance of helping teens become more biblically literate. Even before I read his book, I was troubled by the reality that most teenagers in my group had a kindergarten-level understanding of the Bible. I wanted to teach them as much as I could, but how was I going to get all of God’s truth into them with the many obstacles—lack of time, context, and application for starters—these teens faced?
I knew it wasn’t realistic to think that I could somehow cover most, let alone all, the content in the Bible, so I decided I needed to develop a simple method to help them weekly dissect Scripture when we were together, as well as give them some framework they could use to study the Bible on their own.
A BETTER WAY
In other words, instead of trying to teach them what was in the Bible, I decided to teach them how to read the Bible. That way, they could always have a way to keep growing throughout their lives. As a bonus, if our meeting times consisted of simply reading through the Bible together, there was no curriculum needed—and thus no cost. Can you say win-win?!
I developed a few simple questions to use every time we read the Bible together. These questions guided the students into a habit of pausing as they were reading to help improve their comprehension. We decided to alternate Old Testament and New Testament books (I let them pick which book they wanted to go through).
BIBLE STUDY METHOD
We always started the Bible study with these simple questions (which became reminders) about the book we’d be reading from:
- Is this book from before, during, or after the time when Jesus was on the earth?
- Who wrote the book, and whom was it written to?
- Do we know anything about what type of book it is (prophecy, gospel, letter, poem, etc.) or what was happening in history at that time (Babylonians in power, Israel is divided, church persecuted, etc.)?
Then, we would begin reading that day’s passage (usually a couple of chapters per meeting). We would take turns going around the circle, reading through the verses sequentially. After we’d read a paragraph or a significant section, I’d simply pause and ask these key questions:
- What just happened or what did we just read? Tell me in your words what’s going on.
- What does this section of the Bible say about God?
- How does it relate to your life?
A NEW LEVEL OF SPIRITUAL GROWTH
Once a few students had answered each of these questions, we’d continue until we’d read another paragraph or section and repeat it all over again. It was absolutely amazing to see how, over time, this simple method revolutionized my students’ ability—and thirst—for reading Scripture.
Whether you use these exact questions or some other method, prioritize getting your students into the Bible and watch how it changes the questions they ask, the way they view God, and the life they lead. In time, it might even lead them to passionately share the Good News with others!