Sharing the Bible with teenagers can be an enjoyable experience for everyone involved. Laughter can break the ice socially and personally, allowing young people to experience the Bible in a more practical way. Make the most of different environments, such as a classroom, familiar locations, outdoor games and road trips, to develop lessons that help students pay better attention to the Scripture.
Churches commonly offer a Sunday school class or youth group that meets regularly to help teenagers understand the Bible. These classroom environments are more effective if the teachers use curricula that relate the Scriptures to everyday life. Several Christian publishing companies, such as Group and YouthSpecialties, sell creative materials that help ordinary lessons become enjoyable to young people. Other para-church ministries, such as Barefoot Ministries and the National Youth Workers Convention, offer seminars and workshops on how to create lessons of your own.
Examples: • Theme your lesson around popular music, and talk about the things we put into our minds (Philippians 4:8). • Create an exercise environment, and compare it to growing spiritually (1 Timothy 4:8). • Turn your lesson into a game show, asking practical questions about various passages to find out how solid our spiritual foundation is (Psalm 1).
Help the events of the Bible be more than history lessons by taking young people to familiar locations. By seeing the story come to life in an environment they recognize, teenagers can better comprehend the point of the lesson.
Examples: • Walk around a local public school seven times, praying--like Joshua and the Israelites did--for the walls of opposition to fall down (Joshua 6). • After a high school football game, pick up trash under the bleachers to talk about the way Jesus said we should serve one another (John 13:14). • Visit a shopping mall, and help straighten up products in stores without being found out about it (Matthew 6:3).
Using games in a youth group or with teenagers is an effective way to stir up conversation. The competitive nature of games often brings out teachable moments, such as when someone gets angry or another person is tempted to cheat. Utilize these spontaneous opportunities, and plan others to make the most of every opportunity to learn.
Examples: • Compare effort with preparation, and relate it to our faith (1 Corinthians 9:24-27). • Show the difference between teamwork and a lack of teamwork, and point out how God made us all to contribute to the church (1 Corinthians 12). • Design a day of activities, and give out the winners wacky awards that show each person's personality (Philippians 3:14).
Exposing teenagers to new experiences on road trips creates fresh teaching opportunities. By taking young people into areas where they don't live or visit, they might open up in ways that they wouldn't if a lesson seemed familiar.
Examples: • With parents, plan a trip that is entirely a mystery to their teenagers, and teach lessons about trusting God along the way (Proverbs 3:4-5). • Take city kids to a farm for a weekend, or take rural kids to spend a few days in the city, and teach about how God called different people into new experiences (Hebrews 11). • Visit with representatives at the state capitol, and discuss what it means to live under the governing authorities (Romans 13).
- YouthSpecialties: Awaken Your Students to Scripture
- Get Them Talking: Effective Teaching Methods for Teenagers
- Christian Teen World: Bible Lessons for Teenagers
- The Source for Youth Ministry: Speaking to a Generation with a Short Attention Span
- Child Bible Lessons: Youth Bible Lessons that Make Traditional Teen Lessons Pale
Tony Myles is a pastor and national speaker on youth culture. He has been writing professionally since 2000, has a weekly health and fitness newspaper column in the Cleveland suburbs, reviews for "YouthWorker Journal" and was a featured reporter for the "Kalamazoo Gazette." He holds a Master of Business Administration in adolescent development from Indiana Wesleyan University.