Youth ministry has the reputation of being a hangout spot where we do silly and gross games, drink lots of Mountain Dew, and coach high school and middle school sports. This is a far cry from the calling that I received from God to build up the Church through the unheard, underappreciated, and next great generation that will change the world. Are we giving off the wrong image or are people making assumptions without seeing what is really happening?
I have heard more times than I would like that a youth worker’s approach to youth ministry is to play games for fifty minutes, take five minutes to give the message, and five minutes for announcements. “We really cannot do anything more.” I personally have a problem with this.
Youth for Christ describes their third essential, Faithful Bible Teaching, as “We accurately handle biblical truth, regularly coaching kids to apply it in their lives.” I would not call five minutes sandwiched within 55 minutes of high energy activity as accurate handling of biblical truth. We need to do justice to the Scripture that it warrants. This does not mean boring youth ministry lectures or force the students to read the Bible for thirty minutes each week. But we can make the Bible come alive for them.
It needs to be stated that many ministries, like Youth for Christ, seek out teenagers who never have gone to church or opened a Bible before. Here are some ideas for all youth workers to keep in mind:
- Do not assume the teens know how to navigate a Bible. If you are opening up to Matthew 5, let them know it is in the New Testament at the end of the Bible. When a student gets to the page, have them say the page number for everyone else using that Bible.
- Give them a context to each passage you use. Even if it is one verse, let them know how this passage interacts with other parts of the Bible. Be an example of good hermeneutics, even if you do not teach them the art.
- Let them read it if they want to. Never force a student to read, (You never know if they may have a reading disability) but, letting them invest this little bit may be of great benefit to their life.
- Be accountable for being faithful. Invest in Scripture yourself. Be a part of a Bible study that you do not lead. Let the Scripture fill you too.
How do you make Scripture not only a priority but interactive with teenagers in every meeting?