Here is the second part of my response. If you haven’t read Pt. 1 and the comments, I’d highly recommend it. Some great thoughts/observations there. I will also do a pt. 3 of my response which will be much more practical.
3. Falling in love with Scripture (and the God of Scripture) – one of the things I’ve discovered through reading research and my own relationships with pastors is that a good number do not even like the Bible. This may sound harsh, strong and untrue. But it’s true. There are many reasons for this, but they mostly boil down to the fact that at some point along the way they’ve come to see reading it as a chore they have to do, not something they get to do.
We haven’t given minister or lay people the tools or freedom to engage Scripture in a way where they fall in love with it, mine its depths, play in its conflicts and connections. Instead we have taught them the need to “get something out of it”. While the reading of Scripture to hear God’s voice, to experience God’s revelation is a great thing, we have focused far more on dissecting it for control, manipulation, complete understanding and truth finding. We have lost sight of the One to whom it always points: God. We have forgotten that He is not a controllable, containable, predictable set of propositions, but rather is a master story teller, lover of souls and redeemer.
Obviously, I’m making some fairly strong and rash generalizations here, all certainly not true of everyone and probably not all true of anyone. But there can be no doubt if you’ve read any Bible study book that the majority of them focus on the pieces of the story rather than the story itself. Don’t mishear me here, the pieces are important, but only as they point us to the story and the God of the story. We’ve got to find ways to fall in love again with Scripture. And we’ve got to invite young people to join us in our journey as we allow the great text to interact with us and our lives.
4. I love that quizzing (see bottom of this post for more info on Bible quizzing if you don’t know what this is) gets students into the Word of God. I love that they memorize it, wrestle with it and have adults investing in them as they do so. But there is a schedule to keep, a quiz where you’ll be tested, a question asking you to regurgitate the words on the page. These all have their place, but they don’t leave time for students to wrestle through the ways a passage speaks into their own life (see questions below for a little more on this). I believe, the hardest part of coaching a quiz team (is “coach” even the right word?) is helping them to remember that this is a discipline that leads to freedom and is not one more empty rule set in place to control and marginalize people.
I believe this love of Scripture is first caught, rather than taught. Do you remember a time where the Scripture you had been reading/studying suddenly hit real life? You were faced with a decision, do I do what God is calling me to do, trusting Him OR do I do what I think might be best? This is the where it all grabs you by the shirt and pulls you close, looks deep into your eyes and demands an answer. These times are times to celebrate, to talk about, to wrestle with out loud and call people back to. But every day is not like that. We must find a rhythm to embrace. We must model for students the ability to let a Scripture wash over us, saturate us, and connect us to the story of God within it (NOT us to identify the truth, restate it, package it and claim it forever for everyone). Like a great sports player or musician – behind the simplicity and beauty of their movements, their improvisation are hours and hours of disciplined practice that lead to freedom and creativity – we must help teenagers to embrace and enjoy the rhythm.
++Bible Quizzing is a form of Bible study used by some Christian churches which is sort of like Academic Team/Quiz Bowl on Scripture. Instead of hitting a buzzer, the quizzers jump off of special seats that electronically determine the first one to jump up who is then allowed to answer the question. Bible quizzing as a program determines a different set of Scriptures to study each year (i.e.the book of Romans) from which all the questions will come. Before you critize too quickly, I’d like to point out that it is one of the longest running, most self-sustaining methods of Bible study for youth the evangelical church has ever offered and is international in scope. Perhaps the thing I value the most about quizzing is its attention to Scriture and its natural way of connecting adult leaders with teens. If any quizzers out there want to complement or better define feel free.