I wrote a post the other day that talked about how teenagers, especially young ones, are totally capable of handling more depth than we’re often willing to provide when it comes to leading them in discipleship. (I’d love for you to check it out if you haven’t already.)
In light of that, I thought I’d pass along a few tips for how to practically do this.
So, here are a few thoughts on how to beef up your Bible study time, making sure to provide good depth to your teaching.
Context Is King
Too often, we teach without giving the historical context of the book or passage, or of the particular events surrounding what’s being covered. When we fail to teach the context, we teach the Bible without a lot of the hooks that help us really understand the depth of what’s being said. Plus, it’s just really, really interesting. And don’t we all want to make the Bible more interesting for students?
You don’t have to be seminary trained to discover this. A good study Bible (I recommend the ESV Study Bible from Crossway) or a Bible dictionary will do the trick. And the good thing? It only takes a few minutes of extra preparation to make it happen.
Ask Better Questions
Too often, the only type of questions we ask are comprehension, or knowledge-based, questions. Example: “What did Peter say when Jesus asked him who people said Jesus was?” We have to ask these to make sure students grasp what’s happening. But if this is all we ask, we never take kids to the deeper levels of actually applying the truths of a passage.
So, ask better questions. Ask students to compare truths from different parts of a passage. Ask them to restate it in their own words. Ask, “If this is true, how does this change the way you think of God?” Ask them where in the Bible they remember encountering a similar truth, and so on. The idea is to challenge students to wrestle with the information you give them, not simply regurgitate facts.
Do a Greek or Hebrew Word Study
Doing word study unlocks part of the richness of the Bible. It’s an added layer of depth most teenagers never get into. And it can often open up a different angle on application that helps students grasp a truth about a particular truth or topic.
For about $10 on Amazon, you can get a used copy of “Mounce’s Complete Expository Dictionary of Old and New Testament Words.” This is the best book for the 99 percent of people who teach Bible study who AREN’T fluent in Greek and Hebrew. This simple little book is the clearest, easiest to use resource for doing great Greek or Hebrew word studies for your students.
Provide Breaks In Your Content
I preach and teach exegetically, most often breaking down a passage verse by verse, or nearly so. I really dig in, pulling as much as I think students can handle based on their age and/or level of spiritual development. Knowing this, I intentionally create breaks in my content.
What do I mean? I think in terms of five to seven minute “blocks.” I know that in every five to seven minute block, I need to create a break before moving on to the next one. During the five to seven minute block, I’ll be all “high energy,” interacting with kids, hitting them with questions, pulling out answers, engaging them in dialogue. Then, I’ll make sure I incorporate a video, a personal story, an object lesson and/or a narrative from pop culture that serves to summarize the point that we’ve just covered. This gives them a little break from engaging, serves as a sort of pause before we jump into a new section, and also serves to help creatively make my point.
These are just a few thoughts on making sure you are providing enough depth in your Bible study time.
Remember, they can handle it. We shouldn’t feel like we need to hold back or pull any punches. The world isn’t babying them with the amount of information it throws at them. We shouldn’t either.