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How to get teenagers to read the Bible [Adam Wormann]

Question about teens reading their bibles from FacebookThis week we’re doing something new here at Life In Student Ministry. I asked you all on Facebook what questions you’d like us to answer and this week each of the authors here will answer the most “liked” question from their own perspective.

The question is this: “What are the most practical, yet effective, ways to get students to read (not speed-read) the Bible on their own?”

Adam Wormann starts us off today and Tim Schmoyer will follow with his post tomorrow. Jonathan McKee will chime in on Wednesday, Mark Riddle on Thursday, and Tony Myles wraps it up on Friday.


Teen reading the Bible[ by Adam Wormann ]

I’ve been in paid youth ministry for over 10 years. I’ve served as a volunteer and interned at two different churches prior to that. I’m sad to say that I opened up the page to start this post and just stared blankly at the screen.

The truth is, I really wish there was a magic formula. I wish I could force students to do it. I wish it were easier. And when you think about it, it should be. There’s not, though. It ultimately has to come from the heart. To me, that’s one of the most frustrating things about youth ministry…all of it. I can’t make it happen. It has to be a work from God, and the heart has to be there.

Now, with that said, I think there are some things that we can do that make it a little easier, and more effective, to help students who really do want to read their Bibles more, but do struggle to make that happen. Here’s a list of a few things that I find helpful, and think students do too.

1. Find a different place

I think a lot of times when Bible reading becomes speed reading when it becomes routine. So, mix it up. Find a different place to go. Environment matters (which also means don’t choose a distracting place). If you have to walk to the woods or beach or wherever, chances are you’re going to spend more time there because it took some effort to start. Newness also creates an excitement. I don’t know why, I just know it does.

2. Have a plan

When you don’t have a plan, it’s much easier to give up quickly. Or, just read something because you know you’re supposed to. Being intentional is good, it helps keep it up and avoid the temptation to stall out after frustration. Also, when you’re reading something consistently, it’s more interesting than fragmented pieces.

3. Get together with other people

I think this is the most effective way. If you’re going to talk with other people about something, you’re going to want to make sure you’ve done what you said, and that you’re actually able to talk about it. Form study groups when you talk about what you’re reading weekly or bi-weekly. You can even set up a Facebook group to do this now.

4. Give students something to read

…with reflection questions. This goes with #2. If they have reflection questions as well though, it encourages at least that little extra time, and little extra thought about what they just read.

5. Show them the Bible is interesting

A lot of kids don’t read or reflect on the Bible because they think it’s boring. It’s not applicable. It’s old. It’s wooden (which reminds me, using a translation you like goes a looooong way!). That’s not good. The Bible is contrary to all that (well, it’s old, but not outdated). The problem is, in churches we have often presented it in such a way that students aren’t really interested in it. Teach in a way that the Bible comes alive. Be passionate about it. Help students to understand why it’s exciting. If we can’t do that, we need to have someone else teach (which is perfectly acceptable). Present the excitement and relevancy of the Bible. If students see it as important, they’ll (likely) begin to get into it.

QUESTION: Have you seen any of this work in helping the students in your youth group dig into the Word? How do you help teenagers get into scripture?


Posted on September 12, 2011

  • http://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=1248810017 Darren Chilson

    I started using an idea I borrowed from one of the other youth pastors in my area. I create a "Devo Book" each week with a weeks worth of devotions each with a scripture passage and reflection questions that follow along with the current weeks teaching. It seems like it is working for at least some of the students so far.

    • http://www.studentministry.org Tim Schmoyer

      Cool! Glad that's working for you guys. I tried something similar to that several years ago and it didn't work. I think the issue for us was that kids didn't read the Bible just because they didn't have a devotional, but for other, deeper reasons. They didn't decide to read it just because I gave them something, ya know? Glad that's not the case for your group!

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