Getting teens excited about God’s Word has always been a challenge. That’s why we’re constantly looking for ways to make Bible study fun for youth. But if we want them to engage, we need to do more than that.
The Challenge of Making Bible Study Fun for Youth
I can’t remember studying or reading the Bible much before I was in my early 20s. It wasn’t that I didn’t know I was supposed to read the Bible—I knew I should. It was that I just didn’t have any desire. As a kid and teen, it was hard for me to understand the value of God’s Word. It just didn’t seem very relevant to me. Sure, there were a few verses here and there that I really “resonated with,” but for the most part, the Bible was just a cool leather book full of difficult-to-read and understand language. That’s it.
Today, as a youth pastor, I find that students are still thinking about scripture in the same way. Of course, there are various perspectives, but for the most part, teens consider the Word of God to be difficult to understand and useless in today’s modern world. In fact, among an increasing number of teens (even among some who claim to be Christians), there is a view that the Bible is antagonistic to their core beliefs. Meaning their view of scripture is not just neutral but negative.
So, making Bible study fun for youth may not actually address the issue. If we want to raise up the next generation, we need to change our approach.
The Root Cause of Poor Engagement Among Teens
Addressing the issue of biblical engagement among teens is one of the most important conversations we can have. But I’d like to pose the question: Is “fun” really the key to engaging teens with God’s Word? I’m not against making Bible study fun for youth—of course—but is boredom really the root cause?
I, along with every other caring youth pastor, am walking with teens through the front lines of culture shifts. We are in the proverbial trenches. Teen seekers and believers are being hammered on all sides with incredibly difficult questions and real-world situations. To be totally honest, I don’t think most teens are failing to engage God’s Word because it’s boring. We are way beyond that. Years of elaborate VBS skits and animated, Bible-themed, vegetable-filled TV shows have taught me that making God’s Word fun may not be the solution to the problem.
So, what is the core issue?
I believe the core issue is relevance. If we want teens to engage God’s Word, we need to show them why it matters for their lives.
This is not an easy answer. It’s not easy because making God’s Word relevant is a far more intensive process than making it fun. That being said, if we can help teens discover the enormous relevance and value the Word of God offers their lives, we may just gain a generation of Jesus-loving Bible readers. And those who embrace God’s Word are more likely to be inspired to build God’s Kingdom!
3 Tips for Making Bible Study Fun & Relevant for Youth
So, beyond making Bible study fun for youth, how do we make it relevant to them? How do we encourage them to connect with God’s Word?
Below is a short list of ways to make scripture relevant. This list, of course, could be much longer, but here are some places to start:
- Teens are facing real and difficult issues. So, engage them at that level. Don’t play around with inch-deep issues. Go straight to the root. Engage topics that they are facing and speak into those concerns through God’s Word. Show them that God’s Word has something to say about what they are facing.
- Help teens understand that God’s Word is alive and there really is a God on the other side of those words that wants to know them. Avoid Christian Culture platitudes or cliches. Get real. Help them to know that Jesus wants a relationship with them and that His Word is how they engage in that relationship. The Bible is a tool for deeper relationships—to help teens grab ahold of that truth.
- Allow for difficult questions. If we want teens to engage in God’s Word, we must avoid putting restrictions on their engagement. If they have hard questions, help them wrestle. There are very difficult implications for modern readers of God’s Word in today’s culture. Upholding God’s Word as true will cost modern Christians more and more. Teens need to be able to ask hard questions and wrestle with the answers and implications of those answers. Guide—don’t kill—questions.
Finally, and perhaps most critical to each of the points above, don’t be a hypocrite. Teens, just like the rest of the world, are watching Christians. If you are going to actively preach the truth of God’s Word, you better be living it. Hypocrisy is the number one issue for teen Christians in my youth group—THE NUMBER ONE ISSUE!
They are not interested in what you have to say until you show them that you are willing to live it out. Obviously, many Christians make mistakes. I’m not talking about an occasional blunder being seen as hypocrisy. I am talking about a lifestyle of preaching God’s Word and also regularly disregarding it.
Teens will engage God’s Word if we are willing to take the time to show them that it’s relevant to their lives AND ours. So, don’t just focus on making Bible study fun for youth. Focus on making it relevant to them.