5 Myths about Expository Teaching in Youth Groups

5 Myths about Expository Teaching in Youth Groups

I think modern youth ministry has more history in topical teaching than expositional, and I think youth ministry training and resources tend to focus more on it too. That doesn’t make topical teaching better though, just more usual – and so we feel more confident in teaching topics and more competent in putting topical teaching together.

Topical teaching is not bad, and it does have a place in our projects. I also believe, however, that expositional teaching – when done well with young people – covers all the topics that we’d want to cover anyway. I believe it does this with more healthy and specific applications, while also imparting skills in how to handle the Bible.

Both topical and expositional teaching have their place in a youth group, but I’ll always lean towards expositional. It might be slightly outside of the historic wheelhouse of modern youth ministry, but I think it’s well worth the time and effort.

Here are five myths about expository teaching that could do with being exposed (see what I did there?):

1. It will go over their heads

The Bible is not too hard for teenagers to understand. Like anything, it just needs teaching clearly. Usually, Bible teaching that comes across as too difficult has much more to say about the teacher than those taught. It’s a living and active book. God speaks directly through it – our job is to teach it well.

Taught with confidence and competence, the Bible is the most understandable message to humanity there is.

2. It won’t be relevant

The Bible speaks to every situation of life, and – again, taught well – will always shine a light on modern situations. You might not find a guide to Instagram in the book of Mark, but everything that drives the needs and passions surrounding social media is there in spades. The Bible goes beyond the superficial and gets to ‘the thing behind the thing’ very quickly.

Taught with confidence and competence, the Bible is the most relevant message to humanity there is.

3. It takes too long

The Bible has been broken up into sections for a reason. Pick passages and books that fit the timings and styles of your projects. The golden rule is: It’s better to spend time on a little, than glance over a lot. One of my groups once spent two years looking at Philippians chapter 1. We didn’t rush it, didn’t over plan it, and – with the addition of Q&A – It spoke to almost everything that they cared about.

Taught with confidence and competence, the Bible is the most practically adaptable message to humanity there is.

4. It won’t be tailored to my group

It’s an odd idea that we can understand any group so deeply that we can come up with five or six specific topics that cover all their needs and challenges. Topical teaching inevitably pigeon holes and simplifies issues to reach a broad group. The Bible, however, speaks directly to our daily lives because the Holy Spirit works through it as we teach. It’s living and active and it comes with the immediate understanding of the voice of God. As such, it will always speak more clearly to a group than reduced topical teaching.

Taught with confidence and competence, the Bible is the most applicable message to humanity there is.

5. It will be boring

The Bible is not boring. Not one bit and not for one second! We are charged to interact with it deeply and discover the fullness of life within it’s pages. If the teacher is phoning it in, then it will be boring. When Jesus taught the whole available Bible in Luke 24:27, the disciples said that their hearts burned within them (v.32). There’s absolutely nothing wrong with the material, only our confidence in it and competence with it.

Taught with confidence and competence, the Bible is the most alive and inspiring message to humanity there is.

Confidence and Competence

I keep mentioning confidence in and competence with the Bible. This is a hard message and a stark challenge because many youth workers have told me that this is exactly where they struggle most. This is why I wrote Rebooted – to give youth workers more confidence in and competence with the Bible. You could read 15 pages of Rebooted strategically and get a narrative overview of the whole Bible. It’s there to help in exactly this area.

For now, just keep reading the Bible! The more you read the more you hear, the more you hear the more you know, and the more you know the more you live, and the more you live the better you teach!

This article originally appeared here.

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Tim Gough
Currently living with my Californian wife in the beautiful surrounds of North Wales, I can often be found in sea front coffeeshops with my faithful MacBook, hammering away at one of my many ongoing projects.