A Few Ideas to Get Kids Reading the Bible

As leaders, we’ve recently been thinking about how we can move the members of our 14-18’s group forwards in their walk with Jesus. For a number of our young people, we feel that they really need to get stuck into the Bible. It seems that most of our young people don’t really read the Bible at all outside of church or youth group settings. I don’t know exactly why this is. Literacy does appear to be down on what it once was and there are plenty of other things to distract our young people away from having a regular quiet time so maybe that’s part of the problem. But lately I’ve begun to realise that a lot of our young people just don’t know how to read the Bible.

That might seem like a weird thing to say but I think it’s true. For a lot of young people the Bible just appears daunting and inaccessible. That’s why I think that we owe it to our young people to give them a way in so I’ve decided to have a crack at referencing a few ideas that may help. Of course, if anyone reading this has any other ideas of how to encourage our kids to read the bible then I’m all ears so please do leave a comment.

One2Ones

If I lived in a perfect world, every single member of my youth group would be involved in a One2One bible reading partnership. This normally involves two people (although groups of three can work) meeting together once a week or at the very least, once a fortnight to read the Bible together, with one of the partners being an older, more experienced Christian. These partnerships can be invaluable in getting our young people looking into the Bible in more depth and the relationships formed there also allow for a greater depth of pastoral work and often last on long after the partnership has ended. I’ve found that there are two main barriers to these partnerships. The first is getting young people to see the value in them in the first place. The second is having enough people in your leadership team or within your church who will be suitable/willing to take on the responsibility. If you can get a few people into this and enjoying it, then use them to spread the word. Kids are always more likely to want to do something if their friends are doing it, rather than us oldies telling them it’s a good idea. And once you get your young people into a bible reading partnership, most won’t regret it. For some ideas of materials for One2One bible reading, check out One2One books 1 and 2 by Andrew Cornes as a starter. Having worked through book 1, I’d recommend that partners use the questions in the book to get to grips with the passage before they meet together, and then use that to spark a discussion on the passage and it’s implications when the partners meet together.

Bible Notes

There must be a million and one bible notes out there for young people, all geared towards different age groups and circumstances. The Good Book Company provide a shed load of material including Engage, Discover and Explore. You may want to make these available to every member of your group, or you may feel there are those in the group who would particularly benefit from a set of notes and so pass them a copy. I guess the effectiveness of bible notes will vary from person to person depending on how they are made use of. Still, they can be a helpful way to make the bible a bit less daunting.

Wordlive

Wordlive is an initiative from Scripture Union providing interactive ways for people on the go to engage with the Bible. Once you’ve signed up for Wordlive you can receive daily bible passages via email, podcast and RSS. In the world of smartphones and iPod’s this kind of stuff is invaluable. Each days contains ideas for preparing yourself beforehand, a bible passage, a reflection on the passage and a way to respond. There are also additional thoughts and reflections for each day on the Wordlive website. It features varied content and media meaning that there is generally something for everyone here. If you’ve got tech savvy kids, then Wordlive might be a great way to encourage them to get looking at God’s word.

Hopefully some of these ideas might help you get your young people started on reading the Bible. I’m always open to hearing new ways to get our kids into the Bible though so please do leave a comment if you have any other ideas or resources that you’ve found to be useful.

Advertisements

Ch-Ch-Changes!

Riding in swiftly on the back of the Bible Centred Youth Work conference I have decided to make some changes to the way my week is timetabled.

The first thing to change is my day off. I had been having Saturday as my day off but I’ve decided to switch this to a Monday. The thought behind this is to allow me to schedule in more face to face time with the kids. Hopefully I’ll be able to meet people for breakfast/coffee on Saturday mornings whilst using the afternoon or evening for more social type things with the whole group. It doesn’t have to be anything particularly ground breaking, even just watching some films or playing table tennis but hopefully we’ll also get out on some trips to some places a bit further afield. This may also present some chances to meet some of their friends in a non-threatening environment.

Other changes have been afoot amid our 11-14’s group. The group currently meets twice a week; on a Friday and also on a Sunday morning during the morning service. Up until now both groups have been heavily Bible focused, which of course is a great thing, but I began to realise that we had perhaps gone too far in our emphasis on biblical teaching and so were neglecting the relationships side of things. The emphasis on teaching had also served to alienate our fringe members, leaving us with a committed core but not much else. So I’ve taken the decision to change Fridays format to a much more social occasion. The previous format had us meeting for an hour of Bible study, albeit done a bit more creatively, followed by us eating a meal together. This has been tough as a number (read the majority) of kids just weren’t in the right mindset for an intensive bible study on a Friday after a week at school. So the plan from now on is to do 40-45 minutes of activities followed by a 15-20 minute Bible study and then to eat together. The activities will be a whole variety of things from dark games, talent shows, messy games, pizza making, egg drop challenges and movie night type things. The plan is that Friday will primarily be our shop window with Sunday remaining our time of really focused teaching. Hopefully the changes on a Friday will make the group more accesible to the non-Christian friends of our kids and we hope that in the long term they will begin to invite more people along. I’m keen that we keep 15-20 minutes of Bible time though as it’s important that our priorities as a group are still clearly in view  and so I’d be reticent to cut down the Bible time to anything shorter than that.

As I said, Sundays will remain our main teaching time but I’ve made the decision to make the move to using ready made resources for our programme. Up until now,  I and my leaders have done pretty much everything from scratch, both with the 11-14’s and 14-18’s. This obviously creates a huge amount of preparation time, especially when you have 4 groups all looking at the Bible each week and you’re low on leaders. The reason for doing everything from scratch has quite simply been because I’ve felt the pressure too. It’s probably more self imposed than external but I had always shied away from using ready made resources as I thought others might think I wasn’t really doing my job probably, like I was cutting corners. Like I’ve said before, it’s easy to fear man and not God. But now I’ve had a change of heart. It’s not a cop out to use ready made resources as long as you prepare them well and adapt them to your group. There are pretty much no Christian resources which are usable “out of the box” without you adapting them. This still takes time but obviously not as much. Having resources also makes it easier for inexperienced leaders to try their hand at planning and running sessions without feeling like they don’t know where to start. That’s why I feel this is the way forward. I’ve got so bogged down in prep that I don’t have time to meet people, which really defeats the object of what I’m here to do. So with our 11-14’s our Sunday material will nearly all come from outside resources. We’ll also start to use more resources with our 14-18’s group although there will still be a good chunk of our programme running from scratch in terms of preparation.

I’ve also decided that it needs to be a priority for me to take on some more One2Ones, or rather One2Twos. We’ve had a real struggle with leaders recently and so I feel meeting as a triplet is the way forward, at least for now, although I can see benefits to doing that in the long term. The changes to the format of our 11-14’s group means that I will now have more time in my week to get face to face with people, as opposed to being stuck behind a desk prepping. I’m absolutely convinced of the value of reading the bible together one2one or one2two and the more of this we can do with our young people, the better. It gives great opportunities to really look in depth at what the Bible says and the relationships built within those partnerships ultimately allow the time looking at the Bible to be more fruitful as people feel more able to open up and be honest about their Christian walk.

If all these things fall into place, I’m confident that not only will my work be more enjoyable, but more importantly it will be more fruitful. The move to resources will take a lot of pressure off of me and the change of format will hopefully encourage some of our fringe membership back as well as being more accesible to the outsider. Some people might not think it’s a big deal if we lose fringe members of our group whilst a committed core are built up, but I do. Whilst it’s making disciples, not a large group that is important, I’m also aware that “God’s Word is never wasted” to quote one of my lecturers. That’s why we shouldn’t underestimate the value of a large number of people hearing the word even if they don’t appear to be responding to it. After all, who knows whether we may be sowing seeds for someone else to water in the future and for God to give the growth to. That’s why I want to make it as easy as possible for young people to come and hear the word. Couple this with the possibility of building better relationships with my young people and the chance to read the bible with more kids, and the future is actually looking pretty exciting.