A few weeks ago I had a discussion with the Youth Group I work with about reading the Bible. They all agreed that reading the Bible was an important thing to do yet they also said that it was difficult to actually do on their own.
I asked why?
“It is sort of complicated and confusing”
“I am too busy and it would take too much time.”
“It is just not something I want to do.”
“I don’t understand all that ancient stuff.”
“I don’t know where to start and there is TOO much blood in Leviticus.”
“There are too many rules.”
“Nobody agrees about what it is all supposed to mean so how can I figure it out on my own?”
Maybe you have heard similar statements by your Youth. Or maybe even you have similar reasons for not reading the Bible on your own (as opposed to reading it simply to prepare for a Youth Group talk).
I think back to what I once heard Dick Murray say about United Methodists “wanting to want to read the Bible.” Dick Murray was the Christian Education professor at Perkins School of Theology, SMU in Dallas, Texas for years. He wrote a book that every Youthworker should read and keep on their shelf and refer to often: Teaching The Bible to Adults and Youth .
So, there we were, a Youth Group, wanting to want to read the Bible. I asked if they would read the Bible if they thought it was more fun. They said YES! I asked what would make it more fun for them and they answered, “maybe if we read it together it will be fun.” Now, please don’t misunderstand me. My goal was not to dumb down the Bible into fun, pithy, 1 minute reads just to get somebody to do something. I want everybody to take the Bible seriously.
We agreed to try to spend 15 minutes together every week and just read the Bible and see what we think. I asked where they wanted to start. We talked about several Bible books and stories and then one Youth said that she didn’t know anything about all those short books at the end of Hebrew Scripture (what we often call the Old Testament). I explained those books were “minor prophets” meaning that they were shorter than the “major” prophets like Isaiah and Jeremiah. They did not have a particular book the wanted to start with so I chose Jonah. They only knew that Jonah was about a whale, maybe even like the Pinocchio story from Disney.
We decided that we would read one chapter a week for 15 minutes of reading and discussion for the next four weeks. That doesn’t seem like much does it? But it is what I like to call “A Good Start” in taking the Bible seriously in Youth Ministry.
Here is the FREE curriculum guide if you want to try this on your own.
So, tell me your story? Do your Youth “want to want to read the Bible”? Do you? What is working for you in your context? What can the rest of us learn from you?
Peace and Grace,
Charles W. Harrison