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5 Ways to Get Teens into Bible Study

It's just natural that in groups the chatty will bulldoze right over the more respectful youth. However, Here are some strategies to help you encourage all your youth to actively dive into Bible study:

We youth leaders can be guilty of playing favorites. In our Sunday School classes and Bible studies, we tend to favor the instant talkers instead of really letting all our teens voice their thoughts openly. It's just natural that in groups the chatty will bulldoze right over the more respectful youth. However, Here are some strategies to help you encourage all your youth to actively dive into Bible study:

1. Insist that each youth talk.

Let your youth know that their comments and in put are valuable to the group's Bible study and that you expect them to contribute. A successful group Bible study depends on the contribution of everyone, so encourage all your youth to voice their thoughts openly. Be sure to create a safe environment where they feel free to do so.

2. Believe that every student really wants to talk.

Even the quietest youth eagerly shares dreams, insights, and advice when those contributions are cherished. There's no such thing as a genuinely quiet teenager--just teenagers who haven't been listened to.

3. Show youth that you're paying attention to what they say.

Even totally wrong answers can be welcomed with "I see how you drew your conclusions." When youth's answers and experiences are treasured, they venture exploring and living the truth. Look for something in every response that you agree with and let your youth know it; "Brilliant!" "Insightful!" "Biblical!" and other praises can go a long way in keeping your youth talking.

4. Make sure everyone gets a chance.

Your talkative youth will have to hush long enough to give the soft-spoken ones a turn. Your outgoing youth may act offended, so explain repeatedly that every person has good ideas and we grow the most when we take time to hear everyone.

5. Introduce "talking rules" to guide your group when you have discussions.

Rules are import to any group discussion. Make sure your youth know and understand the rules that you set up for your group and why they are important. The three rules I use are:

  • No talking when another talks, because his or her thoughts are pearls to cherish, not stomp on (Matthew 7:6).
  • No slams, because our goal is to encourage one another toward Christ-likeness (Hebrews 10:24-25).
  • No such thing as a stupid question, because asking anything leads to genuinely discovering what's true and what's not (Matthew 7:7).

Use the following methods to maximize talking.

You can do the above well only if you use methods that engage youth. Give these examples a shot in your class:

Life Deck

Prepare a deck of index cards, writing one life area on each card:

  • school
  • family
  • church
  • home
  • friendship
  • dating
  • playing sports
  • watching sports
  • free time
  • books
  • magazines
  • clothes
  • money
  • television
  • with someone I like
  • with someone I don't like

To use the cards:

  1. Display the cards upside down and direct each student to choose one. Invite them to talk for 30 seconds about how to apply the day's Bible principle in that area of life.
  2. You may also give each youth his or her own deck. Challenge the youth to arrange the life area cards in the order from easiest to hardest to do, from the place God wants the most emphasis to the least, or from what they understand best to least.
  3. You might want to guide youth to give themselves a grade on how well they live for God in each life area, specifically as relates to the Bible theme.

Like/Unlike

Guide youth to understand Bible concepts and characters by describing them. Post this sentence fragment and guide each youth to complete them:

  • God (or heaven, or whatever your theme) is like _________ because ...
  • But ________ is not like ________ because ...

Samples:

  • God's love is like a blanket because He makes me feel cozy, but He is not like a blanket because He really can keep the bad guys away at night.
  • Heaven is like home because I will feel happy there, but it is not like home because no fire or robber can hurt it.

Ball in the Hand

Bring a soft, foam ball to the discussion; to keep all youth from talking at once, introduce a rule that only the person holding the ball can speak. This activity helps the group develop the habit of listening and valuing each speaker. This tool is even more valuable to hearing impaired members who read lips and must know who's getting ready to speak.

Finish the Sentence

  • "This passage makes me want to ..."
  • "It would be hard to obey this passage because ..."
  • "It would be easy to obey this passage because ..."
  • "I think God wants me to change ..."
  • "I think God is proud that I ..."
  • "I most admire (name of Bible character) in this passage because ..."

Portions of the above were excerpted with permission from the "Youth Worker's Guide to Creative Bible Study."

This article was adapted from "Strategies for Involving Youth in Bible Study," from Youth Ministry Update.

Choose a Bible Study for your group.

Karen Dockrey is a youth minister and freelance writer in Hendersonville, Tenn.
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