Three Great Books For Christian Teens

The right book can sometimes be very helpful for someone. Here are three that I’ve read recently and which I think are great for teenagers.

True Spirituality – Vaughan Roberts

True Spirituality is a very accesible overview of 1 Corinthians. As always, Roberts is very readable and provides helpful illustrations to show the relevance of the letter for the teenager/student today. Each chapter is followed by some questions to help the reader think about what they’ve read. It’s by no means a complete commentary and in fairness, it never tries to be, but as an overview it’s very good. I dipped in and out of it, borrowing some of Roberts questions, illustrations and insights, for a one2one series with one of my teenagers but it could equally be used for small group studies or a springboard for a series of talks or just for a teenager to read through by themselves.

The Cross – Andrew Sach & Steve Jeffery

Clocking in at only 44 pages, this little book is great for a teenager who may not yet have made a commitment or for the new Christian. It simply lays out what happened at the cross and what it meant. Sach and Jeffery are two thirds of the team behind the tome “Pierced For Our Transgressions” which was a thorough defence of penal substitution and all that the cross stands for, so they certainly know what they’re talking about. At less than £3 it’s a steal and would easily make a great stocking filler this Christmas or a helpful gift at Easter.

Genuine: Becoming A Real Teenager – C.B. Martin

This is actually a reworking of Warren W. Wiersbe’s book “Becoming a Real Teenager” which just goes to show that something doesn’t have to be new to be relevant for young people (good job, otherwise we’d have to chuck out the Bible for a start!). Again, this is a short book coming in at 81 pages but is aimed more at encouraging the converted teenager who wants to live out their faith or challenging the teen with a half hearted faith. Each chapter looks at a different teenager from the bible including Joseph, David, Daniel, Mary, Timothy and Jesus, although the focus is most definitely on Jesus throughout the book. Each chapter finishes with some questions for the young person to “make it real.” This would be suitable for most teenagers between 14-18 years old.

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Unpacking Exodus

So after recommending Dig Deeper, it’s rather apt that the next book I want to recommend is it’s follow up, “Dig Even Deeper: Unearthing Old Testament Treasure” also by Andrew Sach & Nigel Beynon.

If you’ve read  Dig Deeper, then you’ll have been left with a pretty hefty toolkit ready to put into action as you delve deeper into your Bible. But you might still be feeling a little shaky about using some of those tools in the real world. You want to have a crack but are a bit worried in case some of your application ends up a bit wonky or the main point of your talk, which you’ve spent hours painstakingly building, suddenly falls down. That’s where Dig Even Deeper comes in handy.

The second book gives you a chance to see the tools in action on a far bigger scale than the previous volume allowed for. It’s really one long worked example, taking the reader through the entire book of Exodus whilst putting to use many of the tools the reader has acquired in the first book. It still has a number of exercises for  readers to work through themselves but most of the book is dedicated to the authors unpacking the text itself.

We’re currently going through Exodus with our older youth group and the book’s proved invaluable in dividing up the text as well as in unpacking it in preparation for the sessions. I’ve also been using it for my own quiet times over the Christmas and new year period and it’s certainly made me look forward to picking up my Bible each day and has really opened up Exodus to me.

I probably wouldn’t recommend the book to anyone who hasn’t read Dig Deeper. The authors seem to assume you’re familiar with the bible tools and so you might struggle a bit if you haven’t read the previous instalment. However, if you have read the first book, I’d recommend getting this follow up. It will definitely give you the chance to see the tools put to use in more depth and is also a great companion to working through Exodus, either individually or with a group.

 

Get More Out Of Your Bible

It’s been a while since I’ve written on here and even longer since I recommended a good book. Well, it would appear that good books are like buses. No, not filled with annoying teenagers blasting offensive rap music out of a smart phone, but they come in groups. So I thought whilst I was on light duties, I would try and take some time to recommend some books which I’ve found invaluable of late.

I thought I’d start with “Dig Deeper: Tools To Unearth The Bible’s Treasure” by Andrew Sach & Nigel Beynon.  Dig Deeper is one of those books that I’d been aware of for a while but had always thought wouldn’t have much to offer me. After all, I’ve done a theology degree and I got an A in English Literature  & Language at GCSE. I didn’t need anyone to tell me how to read. (Ahh pride!)

Well how wrong was I?! Dig Deeper walks you through 17 different tools that enable you to get more out of your Bible reading. The Structure tool helps you pick out helpful things like ‘sandwiches’ and “chiasms” that will give you a clue as to what the author is trying to get across. The Linking Words tool is great for epistles and really helps to unravel the logical flow of their arguments. And the Narrators Comment tool is great for unlocking those awkward narrative passages where it’s easy to understand what’s going on, but often a lot more difficult to work out what we’re supposed to take away from it. And that’s only 3 of the 17 tools for you to get your teeth into. Since reading this book I’ve gotten so much more out of my Bible reading than I had previously. Even though some of the tools seem to state the glaringly obvious, you’ll be surprised at how many things we can easily skip over and so often miss not only the richness of the text but also, quite often, the point!

Dig Deeper

Most of the chapters are quite short and contain an explanation of each tool with a few short examples, a worked example and an exercise to do yourself. I’ve been using the book to train leaders at our monthly meetings, looking at one tool and month and we’ve worked through the exercise together. It’s also been incredibly helpful in preparing talks and Bible studies, as well as in One2One Bible reading partnerships. I strongly believe that as youth workers, we’re not just called to teach young people what the Bible says but part of our role is also to teach young people how to read the Bible for themselves. It’s been really encouraging to introduce some of the tools to our young people and see them begin to discover some of the Bible’s treasure as they’ve put them to use.

It’s quite a slim volume so it’s a great book to give to teenagers, perhaps as a gift for their baptism or confirmation, as they leave the youth group or even just for those who are keen to dig deeper themselves. It’s also a great resource for leaders and other Christians, and some churches have even run courses for their whole congregation based on the tools in the book.

If you’re a youth leader and you’re serious about teaching the Bible and teaching your young people how to read it, then this book is for you. In fact, I can’t really think of any Christians for whom this book wouldn’t be a worthy addition to their bookshelf.