Increasing Biblical Literacy Among Students

Youth Specialties
June 12th, 2016

For youth workers, one of our greatest passions is getting students to engage with the Word of God. Imagine a world where every student (or even half our students) read their Bibles and allowed the Word to penetrate their hearts. It would be a very different world! There would be less craziness to deal with, fewer students addicted to porn, fewer students using drugs and alcohol to avoid dealing with reality, and fewer broken homes. That would be an ideal world, wouldn’t it? I’m not saying that increasing biblical literacy among our students will bring about world peace or solve world hunger, but it will solve a spiritual hunger our world is currently facing.

The Bible is powerful. According to Hebrews 4:12 it’s living and active. And in 2 Timothy 3:16-17, we’re reminded that the Bible convicts us of sin, shows us how to live right, and equips us to go through life. If this is true and we believe it’s true, then we must use it! We have to make sure we’re actually using the Bible in our youth ministries and resisting the temptation to make youth ministry mostly about games and having fun—with a little moral lesson thrown in.

My youth ministry started something new and simple at the beginning of this year: we started reading through the Bible.

It sounds too easy, doesn’t it? I thought it would be too easy and that students wouldn’t be engaged with it. But I developed this plan and was excited about implementing it. I had binders with reading plans and daily questions to help students engage with the reading, and I even had announcement sheets and sermon notes each week for the binders. I was stoked—but I didn’t know how my students would respond. I rolled it out on January 10, and my youth group now has a goal of reading through the Bible in one year. I post the daily reading on Facebook, Instagram, and Twitter, and each month I give students the new reading assignments. The engagement has been incredible! Each week I track how much students have read, and I can see a high level of involvement. Students are actually excited about reading their Bibles, and whole families have taken on the challenge and are reading through the Bible together. Parents, as well as students, are constantly talking about how it has impacted them and opened them up to hearing more from God—they’re following God as they never have before. This level of impact was unexpected, and it has been powerful. Students are reading passages they never would have otherwise.

If I were to give any advice about how to increase biblical literacy among your students, it would be to make sure you do these three things:

1) Get personally engaged in the Bible yourself.

You cannot give someone something you do not own. You cannot expect your students to be biblically literate if you are not.

[bctt tweet=”You’re called to set the standard and set the tone for biblical engagement and literacy.” username=”ys_scoop”]

As a youth leader or youth pastor, it’s your responsibility to be a student of the Word of God first and set an example for those you lead.

2) Make the Bible the foundation of teaching.

There are many resources out there for youth ministry, but you need to be careful what you use. There are many lesson series out there that use a verse or two as the foundation and then fully flesh out the topic from there. That’s not enough.

[bctt tweet=”You do your students a disservice when you don’t make enough use of the Bible in your teaching.” username=”ys_scoop”]

3) Provide opportunities for students to engage and study the Bible.

As my church did with student binders and a plan to read through the Bible in a year, it’s important to provide opportunities for your students to engage with and study the Bible. Whether through a small group Bible study, an intentional week-to-week focus through a book of the Bible, or daily readings together, you must give space for your students to engage with the Bible. If you don’t give them opportunities, it’s unlikely that many will take the initiative to engage and study on their own.

ben marshall

Ben Marshall has served as a Youth Director in Holland, MI since 2014. Prior to that, he served with Baptist Collegiate Ministry (BCM) doing college-age ministry, and worked in a residential psychiatric facility for two years. Ben has a passion for discipling youth and young adults and helping them realize their God-given potential. Ben is married to Connie, and have a baby on the way. He loves playing guitar, soccer, and football. Follow Ben on Twitter @benmarshall3 or on his blog at faithlivedout.wordpress.com.

Youth Specialties

Disclaimer: The views and opinions expressed in the YS Blog are those of the authors and do not necessarily reflect the opinion or position of YS.