For young people to grow in faith, learning to study the Bible is extremely important. Youth leaders play a big role in teaching teenagers to love and understand God’s Word.
Let me start reading with a story: I grew up in a house without a dishwasher. More specifically, I grew up in a home of four children. We were cleaners. One summer in high school, I got a job as a nanny, looking after two little boys. And everything was going well until I destroyed their kitchen.
Being a helpful young woman, one day I loaded the dishwasher after lunch and decided to run a washing cycle. Then I looked under the sink and found a single soap container. Dish soap.
Did I mention my family doesn’t have a dishwasher?
So I loaded this little area with blue gel and led the boys into the playroom. Twenty minutes later I returned to see mountains of baby-sized bubbles on the hardwood floor, pouring out of the dishwasher like lava from an industrial volcano.
When I started writing this post about teaching teenagers to study the Bible, my mind flashed back to that humiliating experience. And for the first time, I am grateful for such an embarrassing mistake.
You can’t break the Bible!
However, as children begin reading and studying God’s Word, I recommend 8 helpful tips to keep in mind (and in heart).
Teach your teenagers to study the Bible
Talk to God. Let him know you want to hear from him. Learning to study the Bible requires quieting your heart. Put aside your to-do list and leave no room for random thoughts about squirrels and shiny things. I have a notebook nearby so I can write down things that may distract me from my time with the Lord. When I put them on paper, I don’t have to think about them.
Look for love, not knowledge.
“Knowledge puffs up and love builds up” (1 Corinthians 8: 1b, NIV).
It is easy to read the Scriptures for the sake of knowledge or to tick them off a list. But that’s a worse option.
Instead, look for love in what you read, because God is love. Don’t be content with knowing about him. We want to know Him, and this level of knowledge appears when God talks to us through what we read. I’ve spent so many years learning facts and curiosities about God. But trust me: getting to know him is so much better.
Select a version.
We currently have access to many translations of the Bible. Many new believers like to read the New International Version (NIV). The King James Version (KJV), the New King James Version (NKJV), or the English Standard Version (ESV) are considered to be the most accurate translations for in-depth research.
It doesn’t hurt to read other versions. In fact, I enjoy reading the same passage in multiple versions to see what words God can use to speak to me. I especially like the modern wording of The Message (MSG), although I find it most helpful to read alongside the other word study versions. “The purpose of The Message is to engage people in the reading process and help them understand what they are reading. This is not a Study Bible, but rather a “Reading Bible.” Read more about The Message version here.
For example, consider these different phrases:
“For God so loved the world that he gave his only begotten Son, that whoever believes in him should not perish but have eternal life. For God did not send his Son into the world to condemn the world, but to save the world through him. ” (John 3: 16-17, NIV).
“For God so loved the world that he gave his only begotten Son, that whoever believes in him should not perish but have eternal life. For God did not send his Son into the world to condemn the world , but that the world might be saved through him. ” (John 3:16, ESV).
Context. What’s going on in this scenario? Who is the audience? A particular Bible verse may appeal to you, but what does that verse mean in the context of the entire passage?
The meaning of the word. What is the meaning of this word in the source language? The Old Testament was written in Hebrew and several books in Aramaic, and the New Testament was written in Greek. Searching for words in the source language gives you a depth of understanding that you won’t get by reading only in English. For example, I can read “For God so loved the world” in Matt. John 3:16. My mind naturally thinks of “love” as tender or romantic, but that is not what this verse does. In the original Greek, “love” is agapao, which means goodwill to be liked. God’