The REAL Reason Your Students Don't Read Their Bibles

You’ve got plenty of students who fear God and love Jesus …

… but just don’t read their Bibles.

I’ve spent years talking about the importance of Scripture in the lives of believers—especially teens!

But even though they agreed with me, students didn’t follow through.

They knew the Bible was important, but they weren’t reading it.

This week, I learned why.

Most teenagers are intimidated by the very thought of reading the Bible. Here’s how to change that.

Maybe you don’t think of the Bible as being an intimidating thing, but I am certain that at least some of your students do.

And why wouldn’t they?

The Bible is an extremely large book that’s notorious for using an elevated vocabulary. Parts of it are so confusing that people with advanced degrees often spend 20 to 30 minutes unpacking the meaning of a single verse.

If that was the context that you had primarily experienced Scripture in, the idea of reading the Bible—by yourself—would be intimidating for you too.

Students respond to intimidating moments the way that most people do.

They procrastinate and they delay until they just don’t do it.

And here’s the point:

If your students are intimidated by the Bible,

they won’t read it.

For three weeks, we tried something absolutely crazy to help our students to be less intimidated by the Bible, and here’s the thing about crazy ideas …

Sometimes they work.

How we helped our students become Bible-readers …

For three consecutive weeks, I didn’t teach our students anything.

We welcomed students and did a fun activity. The band led us in worship, and then, when it was time for me to give the message …

… I simply stepped onto the stage, told everyone to get a Bible and gave everyone 10 minutes to read a few times through a chapter in Luke.

Then we sang a closing song and dismissed our students to small groups.

It sounds way too simple, but this very basic technique has had a profound impact on our students’ Bible-reading habits once they got back home.

The feedback I’ve heard already indicates that this is the most meaningful series we’ve done all school year …

… and I didn’t prepare a thing for it.

(I did select very accessible chapters for our students to read.)

Here’s why it worked.

It indicated that Bible-reading really was important to us.

In fact, it was so important that we decided that we would skip the message just so they would do it. If you talk about why something is super-important, but never give students room to do it during your program, they’ll probably start to think that it’s not that important.

It established a reasonable time-frame for meaningful reading.

Students reported later that they thought they’d need to sit down with their Bibles for 20 minutes or more in order to experience anything meaningful, but when they started experiencing insights within the first five minutes, it changed their perspective completely.

It showed students that the Bible wasn’t that intimidating after all.

When students realized that they could read Scripture AND understand it, it totally opened their eyes. In order to help our students develop a Bible-reading habit, we had to help them have a positive experience doing it.

All of a sudden, reading the Bible on their own wasn’t nebulous or confusing.

It was something that they did this morning that they knew they could do again later.

Is this something you should try?

I can’t promise that this will change the way your students experience the Bible, but I can tell you this …

If you want your students to do something at home, it helps to ask them to practice it at youth group. [Tweet this.]

So, leave a comment and let me know if this is something that you’ll be trying in your ministry.

And if you’ve got any other great ideas that helped get your students more into their Bibles, I’d love to hear them!  

Previous articleHow "Ministry" Has Changed From One Generation to the Next
Next articleDarren Carlson: Why You Should Consider Canceling Your Short-Term Mission Trips
Aaron Helman
Aaron Helman is on a mission to help end the epidemic of youth worker burnout. He writes at Smarter Youth Ministry to help youth workers with their biggest frustrations – things like leading volunteers, managing money, and communicating effectively. He is also the youth minister at Firehouse Youth Ministries in South Bend, Indiana.

Get the ChurchLeaders Daily Sent to Your Inbox