Category

Bible

Why Your Teens Won’t Read The Bible

By | 7 Practices for Teaching Teenagers the Bible, Bible, ministry health, MINISTRY HEALTH, scripture
Courtesy of Savio Sebastian/Creative Commons License

When I’m speaking in front of a room full of teenagers I notice one big gaping hole.  Many of them do not have Bibles in front of them.  It’s hard to teach from scripture and talk about God’s word when no one else is looking at it.  This used to be a problem that we might have overlooked; however, recently it’s occurred to me that it’s not as simple as apathy.  There are a few reasons as to why your teens aren’t reading the Bible, and if not approached nothing in their lives will change.

It doesn’t take a rocket scientist to know that studying scripture is an important part of one’s faith formation.  Your teens probably understand it’s importance; however, they can’t get through some simple obstacles.  So, why are your teens not reading the Bible?  Maybe it’s because:

  • They Don’t Have One: If your ministry is for unchurched teens, chances are many of them do not have a Bible.  If they do it’s the very old and large family Bible that their parent’s got when they were married.  Simple tip is to provide Bibles for your teens and have them available each week.  If you notice a teen continuously going to your Bible rack ask them if they have a copy.  If they don’t have one help them figure out where they can pick one up.
  • They Don’t See Yours: If you and your leaders aren’t bringing Bibles then why should the teens?  Carrying around a Bible isn’t exactly like wearing a watch, people will notice.  Your teenagers are already trying to fit in; therefore, if you or your leaders aren’t holding and reading one, then they won’t either.  Encourage your adult AND your student leaders to bring their Bibles to large and small group.  Let it be a part of the culture.
  • They Can’t Figure It Out: Reading the Bible for the first time can be like navigating through Shakespeare.  If you don’t understand it’s context or content then it might not make much sense.  In your messages and small group activities their should be a small blurb on where they can find certain books and passages.  Don’t assume that when you say Leviticus 2:11 that every teens is going to know where (Or even what) it is.  Find moments in your ministry to help them navigate through it.

The Bible can be intimidating and that’s because it’s a powerful tool.  It’s God’s love letter and your teens need to read it.  A friend of mine, Andy Blanks recently wrote a book The 7 Best Practices For Teaching Teenagers The Bible with excellent steps on how to teach your teens the Bible, check it out (You can check out my review here).  Don’t be afraid to take some time away from the activities, or a few moments from your message to encourage and explain how the Bible will impact them.  It’s one of the greatest ways they can connect with God.

How do you encourage Bible reading and scripture study in your ministry?

What are some of the challenges you face?

The 7 Best Practices For Teaching Teenagers The Bible

By | 7 Practices for Teaching Teenagers the Bible, Bible, Book Review, discipleship, resources, ym360

I just got done reading Andy Blanks’ The 7 Best Practices For Teaching Teenagers The Bible.  As someone who doesn’t have a seminarian background I’ve found it intimidating over the years learning how to incorporate scripture into my messages and small group curriculum.  Even if you have been to seminary or studied theology I’m sure you know learning scripture is a lot different from teaching it.  But, one of the responsibilities that comes with youth ministry is teaching the Bible; however, what about your volunteers?
Have you ever thought about their comfort level with scripture?  Do any of them have experience outside of personal use?  Most of them probably joined your ministry thinking, “I just want to spend time with the teens.” When you tell them to teach scripture I’m sure many of them are thinking, “Wait, what?  I’m no expert.”
That’s why this book is helpful.  For those of us in full time ministry it’s a refresher and a chance to refocus on the basics of one of the essential spiritual habits.  But, for our ministers it’s a chance for them to build confidence and a solid foundation when it comes to growing disciples.
There are many things I love about the book; however, two things stand out:

  • It’s A Quick Read – The book moves quickly because of the variety of story, exercise and application.  While there are moments to pause, reflect and go deeper, it’s really a book that’s easy to navigate through.  I’ve found many books on practical ministry overwritten that drag on, but this one gets right to the point.  Because it’s a quick read, I’m not worried about giving this out to my team to read.  I’m a book junky, not everyone is; but, this one is definitely worth the time.
  • It’s Filled With Concrete Application – At times the book encourages you to stop, reflect and even try some of the practices out.  It’s not the first book that does this; however, it’s done in a way that’s clear and easy.  Whether you are reading the book on your own or with your team, you can definitely use the exercises to build confidence.  

Again, this book is a quick read and it’s broken down just as the title suggest, 7 Best Practices.  They are:



Best Practice #1 – Engaging With God
Best Practice #2 – Prepare Well, Teach Well
Best Practice #3 – Context Is Key
Best Practice #4 – Embrace Unpredictability
Best Practice #5 – Plan For Interaction
Best Practice #6 – Teach For Application
Best Practice #7 – Know Your Role

My big takeaway from reading this book is the fact that I need to spend more time looking at scripture instead of just reciting and retyping it.  As Andy puts it:

To be an effective Bible teacher, you must regularly seek to know God by engaging with Him through His Word.

There have been weeks where I’ve gone preaching God’s word to students; yet, struggled to embrace His word for my life.  This book was a reminder that if we are investing in teens, we need to be invested in God’s plan for us, otherwise you have to wonder, “What am I doing in ministry?”  As a youth minister I greatly appreciate the love and encouragement poured into this book.
As great as this book is for youth ministers, I would strongly recommend it for any volunteer in your ministry that has fellowship or discipleship role with a student.  This will take the edge out of teaching scripture, give them some practical tools and show them how to go deeper.  So if you get a chance, head over to ym360.com to learn more.

Which of the 7 Best Practices are you best at doing?  Which one do you need to revisit?

MYM 2010’s Best #1: Revisiting Bible Apps

By | 2010 Best, Bible, culture, engaging students
I’m jealous one of our students brought in his iPad and it’s so cool.  He was showing me how he has been reading the Bible on it.  He was showing off, but you could tell he was proud.  Then yesterday I got an email from one of my 5th/6th grade ministers about how she observed 3-4 boys sharing their phones during my message.  What were they doing?  Reading the bible passages that I was covering…pretty cool huh?
6 weeks ago I talked about the tension I was feeling of whether or not allowing electronics during program should be allowed.  After rereading the article I realized that maybe I was a little stressed from the overuse of them during key points of our worship.  But now I’m noticing a trend of students using their phones and iPod touches to read the Bible.  Yeah some have Nooks and Kindles, but more of them have smart phones and iPod touches.   I think I’m not only going to allow them but encourage students to bring them…you might wonder how I came to that decision…let me explain:

With Bible Apps it’s easier to:
  • Navigate: A lot of my students are new to navigating the Bible.  They could tell you some of the books but not where to find them.  When you have a Bible App all you have to do is type the book, chapter and verse in the search and BOOM! it’s there.
  • Share: I find myself telling students to tweet a bible passage, or share it on Facebook when they get home.  By allowing most of the electronic devices they can instantly share what you are reading, it allows them to evangelize and testify instantaneously.
  • Go Deeper: A lot of Bible Apps come with instant commentary and reading plans.  While you can pick that up in a traditional paperback, you don’t have to commit to a specific translation.  On my bookshelf I have 8 different Bible translations, with an electronic I can carry multiple versions on one device.
It’s pretty clear why Bibles on an iPod, iPad, Android, Kindle, Nook, etc is a good idea but how you monitor them is another question.  To avoid the overuse I think you have to take the lead.  I think you have to tell students that you want them to bring their devices so that they can read their Bible.  I think you have to show them how you are using it (downloaded Youversion.com for my iPod touch) and I think you have to commend them on doing it.  Students are glued to their phones, their glued to their iPods and that means the Bible is just a touch away.  Why not encourage that?  Why not embrace that?  Why not take that step to embrace Bible Apps into their world?
I’m interested in your thoughts, please comment below.

Revisiting Bible Apps: A new trend happening in our ministry

By | Bible, culture, engaging students

I’m jealous one of our students brought in his iPad and it’s so cool.  He was showing me how he has been reading the Bible on it.  He was showing off, but you could tell he was proud.  Then yesterday I got an email from one of my 5th/6th grade ministers about how she observed 3-4 boys sharing their phones during my message.  What were they doing?  Reading the bible passages that I was covering…pretty cool huh?
6 weeks ago I talked about the tension I was feeling of whether or not allowing electronics during program should be allowed.  After rereading the article I realized that maybe I was a little stressed from the overuse of them during key points of our worship.  But now I’m noticing a trend of students using their phones and iPod touches to read the Bible.  Yeah some have Nooks and Kindles, but more of them have smart phones and iPod touches.   I think I’m not only going to allow them but encourage students to bring them…you might wonder how I came to that decision…let me explain:
With Bible Apps it’s easier to:

  • Navigate: A lot of my students are new to navigating the Bible.  They could tell you some of the books but not where to find them.  When you have a Bible App all you have to do is type the book, chapter and verse in the search and BOOM! it’s there.
  • Share: I find myself telling students to tweet a bible passage, or share it on Facebook when they get home.  By allowing most of the electronic devices they can instantly share what you are reading, it allows them to evangelize and testify instantaneously.
  • Go Deeper: A lot of Bible Apps come with instant commentary and reading plans.  While you can pick that up in a traditional paperback, you don’t have to commit to a specific translation.  On my bookshelf I have 8 different Bible translations, with an electronic I can carry multiple versions on one device.

It’s pretty clear why Bibles on an iPod, iPad, Android, Kindle, Nook, etc is a good idea but how you monitor them is another question.  To avoid the overuse I think you have to take the lead.  I think you have to tell students that you want them to bring their devices so that they can read their Bible.  I think you have to show them how you are using it (downloaded Youversion.com for my iPod touch) and I think you have to commend them on doing it.  Students are glued to their phones, their glued to their iPods and that means the Bible is just a touch away.  Why not encourage that?  Why not embrace that?  Why not take that step to embrace Bible Apps into their world?
I’m interested in your thoughts, please comment below.

iBibles? Are They Good For Our Students

By | Bible, electronics, Systems and Structures

We’ve always encouraged our students to bring their Bibles to our programs and small groups.  It’s been a real struggle; however, yesterday I noticed some headway in our efforts.  In our 5th/6th grade program Ascent the majority of tweens had brought one; however, instead of having the standard paper version many of them had brought the Bible on a Kindle or Ipod.  In fact one student was bragging about how he just got his new Kindle and the first two books he uploaded were Twilight (argh) and the Bible (yeah).  Interesting.  I didn’t really notice this with our older students(7th-12th); however, for our younger students they were proud of their finding.  But, as great as it is for students to bring a Bible, if it’s electronic it brings up an interesting question:
Does this encourage teens to bring their other electronics into the program?
And again I have no problems if it’s on a Kindle or Nook, but when you are bringing it in on your Iphone, Ipod, Droid, Ipad you are playing with fire.  I know you can read and do other stuff on the Kindle and Nook but there aren’t nearly as many temptations as their are on their electronic cousins.  It’s a battle that I fight because there are times where we ask students to use their cell phones for texting polls or interactive messages; however, recently I think it’s gotten out of control, especially with our middle school students.  We’ve discussed collecting cell phones at the door unless we plan on using them, but then again we know that students need them like they need oxygen, plus it keeps some of the more distracting teens preoccupied as they listen to a message.  I can’t figure this out.  I know I’m not the first youth minister to approach the subject but I’m curious as to what you all think:

Do you ban electronics in your youth program?