I preached last week on the Word of God as an important aspect of building a relationship with God. I tried to connect it with the message of the previous week, that of developing a prayer life.
After the message, I asked the students to break out into groups and ask questions they had about the Bible. I was and am very curious to see what kinds of questions people have about the Bible.
Some of the questions that the junior Hi-C kids came up with really impressed me. Some of the questions included:
- How do we know the bible is real/legit?
- Who put the bible together?
- Why is it called the bible?
- HOW do we know these authors are the actual authors?
- How did they record the messages before pen and paper?
- Was Jesus aware of the bible being made?
- Why did Jesus pick 12 disciples? And if the bible is so old, how does it help us today?
What an astute bunch!
But when it came around to the senior Hi-C, the feedback I got was that there were not many questions because most of them don’t read the Bible. My first question to that is: WHY don’t they read it? I will delve into that question with them cause I wanna know!
For now, my guesses on the reasons why may include: it seems intimidating and hard to understand; it doesn’t seem very relevant because it was written so long ago; I have other and better things to do with my time; and I can’t be bothered.
But the very fact that most of the kids don’t read the Bible made me think: how are we as a church supposed to instill a foundation of faith when there is so very little biblical literacy? How do we teach the Bible when kids these days don’t read it?
I’m sure there are a myriad of reasons why our kids aren’t reading the Bible. Some of the reasons have been stated above. But to elaborate, there seem to be either too many things demanding their attention, too many distractions taking their attention away, or a combination of the two. Either that, or it’s just not seen as important when it really comes down to it.
As a youth pastor, I believe that the Bible has so many important things to teach young people about life. But I also understand how the language of the Bible can seem archaic and unrelatable to life. I know that my job is to unpeel some of the language barriers and make the message of the Bible come to life in a real way.
But I also know that there is only so much I can do from the pulpit or via education on Sundays. Real spiritual learning from the Bible can only come with their own effort and involvement. Sundays should be to supplement, provide clarity and depth to their reading of the Bible.
And the funny thing is, I believe there is so much else to talk about in addition to the Bible that I’m very interested in – I’ve always believed that the Bible should never be read in isolation but rather in the context of the real world we live in. But if we can’t build on the foundation of Scripture, moving onto other sources (like history, sociology, current events, etc.) seems to be like building a house on sandy land.
My concern is that without a biblical foundation on which to build their values, principles and outlook on life, other voices will take center stage in their hearts and minds. While some of these voices may be helpful, I’m biased in believing that for the most part they pale in comparison to the richness of the wisdom and truth contained in our Scriptures.
Yes, we live in the world and must survive in it. And for that reason, I know that kids will work hard in school, be nimble in finding careers they can thrive in, and navigate their way through the challenging economic environment.
But I also believe that life is meant to be much richer than just surviving or thriving in an economic and professional sense. And the Scriptures speak to this depth of richness in life.
And so herein lies our challenge: in an era that is so full of distractions (eg. Video games, social media, YouTube, Netflix, etc.) and demands on our time and energy (school, extra-curricular activities, lessons, etc.), how will we find the space and time to immerse ourselves in life-giving truth and insight that stems from Scriptures? Do we as a faith community really believe in the importance and power of Scripture?
Perhaps that is a fundamental question that parents should ask, because I believe so much of our children’s attitudes ultimately stem from parents: what, if anything, does the Bible mean to you? Do you believe that it actually has something important to say? Is this something that you believe there should be time and energy committed to?
I guess I’m posing these questions because I realize that there is only so much that a church and a pastor can do if the whole family is not committed and engaged to this endeavor.
Those are just some thoughts. I would love to hear the opinions and thoughts of parents who are actually going through the daily reality of raising teenagers and adolescents. I pose these opinions in the humble awareness that I don’t have all the answers.