If there was one thing I wish I knew how to do when I was in high school, it is read the Bible more effectively. I was one of those “open to a random spot and hope it speaks to me,” kind of readers and I know I was not the only one! When I asked some students I work with what inspires them to read the Bible, they said:
“When something bad happens I read it,” or “I’ll try to read it after a good sermon, but I don’t get very far.”
So, how do we, adult leaders, inspire them to read God’s Word? There are a few ways we can do this.
- Explain the role grace plays in spiritual disciplines. Honestly, some times I did not and still do not read the Word because the shame of sin stands in the way. I feel like I cannot go to God because of X, Y & Z, but that is the best time to enter the throne room and draw closer to Him. Teens put a lot of pressure on themselves and they need to hear that God is not waiting with a lightening bolt to strike them down. While it is important to teach them not to take advantage of grace, it is just as important to teach them that inconsistency does not disqualify you in God’s eyes. If they miss one day or one week of reading, God welcomes them back with open arms. Explain the important role spiritual disciplines play in one’s faith journey. Just like their volleyball or cheer practice, it takes time and dedication. Any relationship takes vulnerability and trust to grow and that is no different than one’s relationship with the Lord. The difference between earthly and holy relationships? Grace.
- Give them a roadmap. One of the most common things I hear when it comes to reading the Word is, “I don’t know where to start.” Have you been there? I have! Actually, I was there for most of my twenties, until I picked up the Bible study that would change everything for me. Seamless by Angie Smith was the roadmap I needed and have been sharing ever since. Leaders, it is not easy to read the Bible when you do not understand the context or the history of what’s going on. We have to be able to give these sweet students a path to walk out the spiritual discipline we discussed above. I encourage you to find a way to help them create a plan so it does not feel so confusing and overwhelming.
- Make it a community thing. When you are honest and vulnerable, they are more likely to reciprocate that honesty and vulnerability. Consider starting a group chat and let them in on what God is teaching you as well as when you miss your quality time with the Lord because life happens. Teaching by example speaks louder than lectures, so let them in a little on how you feel when you feel far from God and create a community that sets everyone up for success.
Bonus idea: Partner with their parents. Their parents see what is going on in the lives of their teens and you are able to use that as a resource to send encouraging texts or scriptures that relate to the season of life or situation they may be going through.
Last, but not least, pray for your students to experience the Lord in a new way every day. He is in the details and is ready and willing to partner with you in your ministry. It’s such a gift from the Father to walk through life with students and as you pray for them, know that I am praying for you.