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.
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.
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 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.