Teen Bible classes in a church setting are great. To reach unchurched teens or for extra opportunities to teach your regular Bible students, it can be helpful to offer additional opportunities for teens to study the Bible. How you structure these opportunities though, can make the difference between having a lackluster study and one where teens are excited to attend and participate.
There are some key elements that tend to impact whether or not teens are excited to attend an extra Bible study.
- Timing. Timing is everything. Most teens are over scheduled. Hosting a Bible study when your students have activities is never a good idea. Before setting a date and time, talk with the students you hope will attend and see if you can find a date and time that works well for them. Summers and vacations from school can work well, although teens can have vacation and camp plans that interfere then, too.
- Attendees. While you don’t want anyone to feel excluded, teens often relish an opportunity to spend extra time with smaller groups of peers. They may love to have an all girls or guys study or one for their grade level or area of town. You can even subdivide by interests. We’ve seen Bible studies for young people interested in surfing, gaming and more. When you subdivide, it’s helpful if you can create other Bible studies that include teens not within that group, too.
- Location. The church building is probably the last place you want to have these devotionals unless there is a fun area or great outdoor space to which they usually don’t have access. Homes and coffee shops are popular. Look for spaces that are unique, special, and offer at least a little privacy (coffee shops are so noisy, they are actually fairly private). If you are having multiple sessions and changing the location from week to week, go overboard in making sure everyone is aware of the new location. Showing up at the wrong place can feel devastating to a teen.
- Topic. Hosting a Bible study on a topic which holds little appeal to your target attendees isn’t helpful. If you feel a topic is crucial, pair it with a theme your target group will find fun. For example, if you want to discuss the Fruit of the Spirit and have a group of teens wanting to learn how to cook, host a cooking Bible study where they cook a meal and eat it. Each meal could focus on using a specific fruit and then the Bible study while they eat their creation could focus on a specific Fruit of the Spirit. Otherwise, it is often best to have attendees help pick the topic that most interests them. You may want to provide a few suggestions if they get stuck. Often, the most well attended studies are helping them prepare for the next stages of life like dating, college, etc.
- Leader. Teens are particular. They won’t attend the best Bible study in the world if the leader is someone they dislike or find boring. Don’t assume though that the study must be led by someone under thirty. Often, teens will be more excited about having a Bible study led by an older adult whom they love and respect and is seen by them as a parent, favorite aunt or uncle or grandparent figure. When choosing leaders, make sure they can handle Bible questions, doubts and situations attendees might share – especially involving sensitive or controversial topics.
Not every teen will attend every session of even the best Bible study outside of class. The more you use these guidelines in your planning though, the more likely it will be a vibrant, well attended Bible study.