Teens, You Can Enjoy the Bible - Part 1

In our last post, Teen, the Bible is for You, we encouraged you to see the Bible as written for you. Contrary to what culture tells us, it isn’t a dusty old book that is outdated and irrelevant to life today. We hope those encouragements inspired you to pick up the Bible and start reading it.  As promised, in today’s post, we’ll share some suggestions on how to connect with the Bible in meaningful ways.

Tips for Connecting with the Bible in Meaningful Ways:

  1. Know why you are reading your Bible. You don’t need to feel pressure to give a super-spiritual or “Sunday School” answer like “Jesus.” If you want to read the Bible because you’re skeptical, that’s great. If you are reading it because your parents said they would pay you $50 if you read it this year, that’s fine too. If you want to read it to know Jesus better, that’s wonderful. There’s no wrong answer here.

Why are you reading your Bible?

How do you hope to benefit from it? 

  1. Find your current understanding level of the Bible and start reading there. What would you say your level of Bible knowledge/understanding the Bible is? How familiar are you with the content of the Bible? Circle One. (Your level most likely is different from your actual grade level and that’s totally normal.)

Elementary School       Middle School        High School       College 

Elementary - Start with the Gospels, Mark especially. The goal here is getting to know Jesus - what he’s like, who he was, his motivations, burdens, emotions, as well as the things he did and said. Jesus is the key to understanding and interpreting all of the Bible, so if you start here, you’re doing great!

Middle School - Read anywhere between Acts through 3 John. This will help you discover how the church/Jesus’ followers should be living out the mission he gave.

High School - Read anywhere in Genesis, Exodus, Joshua, Judges, Ruth, 1 & 2 Samuel, 1 & 2 Kings, 1 & 2 Chronicles, Ezra, Nehemiah, or Esther. These books tell the background of God’s work in the life of his chosen people, the Jews and the surrounding nations. This will help you see why humankind needed a Savior - someone who would obey and love God perfectly.

College -  Read the rest of Scripture. This includes the prophets and the books dealing with the end times. This will help you understand God’s pursuit of his people from beginning to end and his desire to live with them - for them to be his people and for him to be their God.

Any Level - Read the poetic books (Job, Psalms, Proverbs, Ecclesiastes, and the Song of Solomon). Like most poetry, these books include a lot of figurative language that you’ve learned about in Language Arts class (similes, parallelism, metaphors, etc.). The Psalms are included in this list and can be thought of as  “one size fits all.” There is always a word for you there - for what you’re feeling, thinking, and struggling with.

(Most of the divisions above are based on what is called “genre” - a category of. . . literary composition characterized by a particular style, form, or content.)

  1. Read from a Bible version that is easy for you to understand. We recommend reading from several like the New Living Translation, the New International Version, the Christian Standard Bible, and The Message.

  1. Recognize if you are primarily an auditory learner. If so, maybe listening to the Bible will work better for you. Bible Gateway and the Blue Letter Bible are sites that allow you to do this for free.

  1. Interact with the Bible like you would interact with someone you’re getting to know. To take it a step further, we’ve even heard reading the Bible with curiosity described as interrogating the text - asking probing questions to understand the people and situations better.  Ask Who (are the characters involved in the passage), What (are they doing), Why (are they saying what they’re saying/doing what they’re doing?), How (did they get to this point in the story?), and Where (is all of this taking place?).

  1. See the Bible as a connected story. Doing this will help you see how the different books work together in the whole.

a). Here are a couple summaries of the whole story of the Bible, concisely stated in a sentence:
-“The Bible tells a remarkably consistent story about God's plan to restore the world back to God.” (paraphrased from NT Wright)
-The Bible’s big picture is God’s people, in God’s place, under God’s rule.” (Graeme Goldsworthy)

b). Here is a short video describing the overall story of the Bible in 5 minutes.

  1. Just like the whole Bible is connected, each book of the Bible has a theme. One of the best ways to discover a theme for the portion you’re studying is to look for repeated words and phrases. For example, in the book of Hebrews you’ll often see the word “better.” This repetition indicates a point of emphasis. So the theme of the book of Hebrews can be summarized as Jesus is better.
  1. Read and read and then reread it. If reading large portions of the Bible is overwhelming to you, take a chapter or a smaller book and get really familiar with it. Reading smaller sections mindfully can be just as fruitful as having a goal to read through the whole Bible in a year. As you’re reading and rereading, the words will become part of you and help you in rehearsing/thinking about/meditating on it after you put your Bible down.

  1. Your youth leader and pastor probably give helpful tips for Bible study throughout their teaching. Listen up.

  1.  Ask another Christian to meet with you every few weeks, once a month etc. to discuss what you’re reading. Ask them some of the questions you’ve had from your reading.

  1.  Utilize the tools that are available. There is no shortage of commentaries, Bible dictionaries, maps, and concordances to assist you. Most of these can be found online. A quick google search turned up these free resources.

In the next post, we’ll share how to avoid some common obstacles that can trip you up and discourage you in your Bible reading.

Check out these other Blogs in the this Series: 

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