Do we teach Students too much Bible?

Have you ever had a student tell you they aren’t growing at youth group? Or maybe that the messages aren’t deep enough? I feel like every Youth Pastor has at one point or another, and for me, whenever I’ve asked students to boil it down to what they really mean, it comes down to a sense of not preaching enough Bible.

Doesn’t that almost want to make you laugh? Last year, we did exegetical studies of James, Colossians, sections of Romans, sections of Acts, and a few others. If you went through my lessons, you’d be hardpressed to find a message devoid of the Bible.

So what gives?

I’ve been pondering this idea for the last few weeks since talking with a former Youth Pastor of my current church, as we discussed why we both think it is so common for Youth Pastor’s to hear “You don’t go deep enough.” My point of view got kind of rocked by what he said, because as I sat there trying to find ways to better communicate more of the Bible, he just exclaimed “We teach too much Bible.”

Really? I’m having students tell me I don’t teach enough Bible, and you’re going to tell me that actually, I preach too much of it? I needed him to explain.

What he proceeded to tell me was he thinks that too often, we try and teach so much of the Bible that we end up teaching none of it.

Like the principle that says “Focus on doing a few things GREATLY as opposed to many things poorly.”

What do you think of this? How would it look like to teach LESS Bible in a MORE in-depth approach? Would this work in your Youth Ministry?

 

16 Comments

  1. Interesting discussion here. This is a great reminder that we need to be clear, direct, and concise in our preaching. The shotgun approach is not going to work. We have to make clear and relevant points concerning the Word of God, and be careful not to simply proof-text till we're blue in the face. At the same time, we have to avoid the Scripturally absent, self-help preaching that shows up from time to time. It's an important balance. Good article.
  2. Interesting discussion here. This is a great reminder that we need to be clear, direct, and concise in our preaching. The shotgun approach is not going to work. We have to make clear and relevant points concerning the Word of God, and be careful not to simply proof-text till we're blue in the face. At the same time, we have to avoid the Scripturally absent, self-help preaching that shows up from time to time. It's an important balance. Good article.
  3. Is it possible to teach too much of the Bible? I would say yes. But not that we could ever teach too much or have too much of God. What I would say is that all too often our various programming (Sunday School, small groups, Wed nights, Sunday worship, etc.) are all studying different scriptures. This causes our students to experience Bible overload in which so much varying Biblical knowledge is being thrown at them from so many different directions that they end up remembering virtually none of it. I have found that if my Sunday morning Bible Study and Wednesday nights share similar topics or at least focus on the same books or passages of the Bible, students are much more likely to remember what we discussed. So it's not so much that we are teaching too much of the Bible, it's that we are trying too hard to get as much Bible into one week as possible. Combine this onslaught of Biblical information with all students consume from their phones, computers, and TV and they barely remember their own address, much less what you preached about last Wednesday.
  4. Is it possible to teach too much of the Bible? I would say yes. But not that we could ever teach too much or have too much of God. What I would say is that all too often our various programming (Sunday School, small groups, Wed nights, Sunday worship, etc.) are all studying different scriptures. This causes our students to experience Bible overload in which so much varying Biblical knowledge is being thrown at them from so many different directions that they end up remembering virtually none of it. I have found that if my Sunday morning Bible Study and Wednesday nights share similar topics or at least focus on the same books or passages of the Bible, students are much more likely to remember what we discussed. So it's not so much that we are teaching too much of the Bible, it's that we are trying too hard to get as much Bible into one week as possible. Combine this onslaught of Biblical information with all students consume from their phones, computers, and TV and they barely remember their own address, much less what you preached about last Wednesday.
  5. Not to say our kids are dumb or ignorant but if they truly understood what we think they mean by deep, they wouldn't get it. They aren't concerned with supralapsarianism, or antinomianism... If we taught them the depths of those doctrines or ideas, they wouldn't get it. I dare you to talk about those few things and ask if that's what they want to learn. They will say "no!" I think what needs to be done here is solid exegesis with hardcore application.
  6. Not to say our kids are dumb or ignorant but if they truly understood what we think they mean by deep, they wouldn't get it. They aren't concerned with supralapsarianism, or antinomianism... If we taught them the depths of those doctrines or ideas, they wouldn't get it. I dare you to talk about those few things and ask if that's what they want to learn. They will say "no!" I think what needs to be done here is solid exegesis with hardcore application.
  7. Good post, I especially agree with Brian about focusing in on a passage or topic for awhile and letting it marinate in the students' minds. When a student comes up and tells me that they are not getting enough out of the teaching at youth, my response is to ask them what they are studying on their own. Sermons/teaching in youth ministry can only spoon feed someone God's word for so long. Eventually they have to start growing up and feeding themselves through their own personal study. Our teaching in youth has to move from being their spiritual nourishment to being a dietary supplement. Until that happens, Christians who ought to be maturing to feed themselves will be dissatisfied with any teaching because they're trying to be spoon fed when they need to be learning to cut and chew the food on their own. So when a student says, "I'm not getting enough out of this." or "this isn't deep enough." I say "that's great! Let's find you a good devotional or study to go through!"
  8. Good post, I especially agree with Brian about focusing in on a passage or topic for awhile and letting it marinate in the students' minds. When a student comes up and tells me that they are not getting enough out of the teaching at youth, my response is to ask them what they are studying on their own. Sermons/teaching in youth ministry can only spoon feed someone God's word for so long. Eventually they have to start growing up and feeding themselves through their own personal study. Our teaching in youth has to move from being their spiritual nourishment to being a dietary supplement. Until that happens, Christians who ought to be maturing to feed themselves will be dissatisfied with any teaching because they're trying to be spoon fed when they need to be learning to cut and chew the food on their own. So when a student says, "I'm not getting enough out of this." or "this isn't deep enough." I say "that's great! Let's find you a good devotional or study to go through!"
  9. I think this is a good point. Not to promote a book, but Andy Stanley has a book about 7 principles or practices or something like that. He attempts to simplify youth teaching into an irreducible minimum. In other words: "Let's make darn sure our kids get these 7 concepts down pat before they go off to college." It is worth a discussion at least and may have some intense value. Thanks for bringing it out. On the other side, sometimes students saying they want something deeper is just a smoke screen. In John 4, the Samaritan Woman at the well wanted to talk to Jesus about wether they should worship on a mountain or in Jerusalem. Had Jesus entertained this, we would have gotten a very "deep and theological" conversation. However, he cuts to the quick and shows her that she needs to be primarily concerned with obedience to God and dealing with her sin. It wasn't "deep." It was necessary. I just want to close by thanking you guys for this website. I absolutely love it and I am so thankful for it. Your articles are always meaningful and insightful.
  10. I think this is a good point. Not to promote a book, but Andy Stanley has a book about 7 principles or practices or something like that. He attempts to simplify youth teaching into an irreducible minimum. In other words: "Let's make darn sure our kids get these 7 concepts down pat before they go off to college." It is worth a discussion at least and may have some intense value. Thanks for bringing it out. On the other side, sometimes students saying they want something deeper is just a smoke screen. In John 4, the Samaritan Woman at the well wanted to talk to Jesus about wether they should worship on a mountain or in Jerusalem. Had Jesus entertained this, we would have gotten a very "deep and theological" conversation. However, he cuts to the quick and shows her that she needs to be primarily concerned with obedience to God and dealing with her sin. It wasn't "deep." It was necessary. I just want to close by thanking you guys for this website. I absolutely love it and I am so thankful for it. Your articles are always meaningful and insightful.
  11. I have really enjoyed the comments for this post. I think it is an absurd assumption to think you can teach too much Bible. You can teach curriculum that is a mile wide and an inch deep. I think it would be beneficial for youth leaders to do a little reading on pedagogy and the art of teaching. Or better yet...take a look at a lecture by Salman Khan and begin to think about how we learn by mastery. Application is also relevant. I teach the Bible every Sunday but how much do my students learn? (Not how many verses did they memorize but how many characteristics of Christ did they learn) http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=nTFEUsudhfs&playnext=1&list=PLE43DA94A256C8293&feature=results_main
  12. Not to be humorous, but my students would never tell me they aren't growing because they don't know that they aren't. I find I need to teach a lot of Bible because many of my students don't have the knowledge or the passion for what is in the Bible.
  13. Not to be humorous, but my students would never tell me they aren't growing because they don't know that they aren't. I find I need to teach a lot of Bible because many of my students don't have the knowledge or the passion for what is in the Bible.
  14. Some great thoughts on the subject…Sometimes I have found the same thing with my students because there is so much I want to teach them; but I have to remember it has taken me years to learn all that I have so I can't expect them to grasp everything I give out in just one night a week.
  15. Some great thoughts on the subject…Sometimes I have found the same thing with my students because there is so much I want to teach them; but I have to remember it has taken me years to learn all that I have so I can't expect them to grasp everything I give out in just one night a week.
  16. When I first read the title of this article I thought- "surely I won't agree!" But I understand what he was saying about how we can try to teach so much that we end up teaching nothing at all! We need to make sure that our lessons are clear, relevant, and on point. But it would be helpful for us to make sure our students are clear with what we have taught before we go on to the next thing. I have never been very good at math-- AT ALL! And each year I was determined that I was finally going to get it! But inevitably there would come a class period (often early in the semester) when I would be completely lost by what the teacher discussed, and it would keep me lost the entire semester! I never want that to be the case with my students when I teach them about Christ!

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