One of the biggest complaints we hear from young people is that they have no idea how to connect what is in the Bible to “real” life. They have heard Bible stories, talked about various scriptures, but still fail to see any connection to what they experience every day. Without this missing piece, many will choose to view God and church as optional activities and not a way of life.
You can help your students make these connections. The curriculum you are using may claim to help students make these real life associations, but many fail to do it in a way that really works. There are several things students need to help them establish firm ties between what God has given us in the Bible and actually being Christian in their lives.
- What lessons does God want us to learn from the Bible story or passage? God didn’t put filler in the Bible. In fact, the New Testament tells us there are lots of things that had to be left out due to space considerations. Teach students to look at any passage of scripture as a direct message from God about something He wants them to know. Help them learn to look at a scripture and decide what that lesson may be.
- What would that command or principle look like in my life today? If students can tell you what God wants them to learn from a passage of scripture, but don’t know how to connect it to something concrete in their lives, it probably won’t help them very much. The principles and commands are timeless, but the different challenges we may face to follow God in those ways may look a little different than it did in Bible times. For example, envy is a sin…but what does that look like in the context of social media? What might they need to do differently to obey God’s command in that area?
- What differences might they notice in their world if they obey God in the areas discussed? We live in a fallen world, so there are no guarantees obeying God will always result in good things happening to us or that we will avoid everything bad. In general though, living life God’s way tends to yield the best results possible in our world. Students need to make connections like “honesty is linked to trust and may make their relationships stronger”. Don’t go overboard and predict perfect results, but let them know why God wants us to obey Him in those areas.
- How do they actually do the things God requires of them? A student may know God wants them to handle things in a certain way, but not know how to actually do it. Society isn’t always teaching Christian Life Skills like it might have in previous years. Your students may need to actually learn the steps for handling conflict in godly ways or making a budget so they can be good stewards. Taking the time to teach them these skills will make it easier for them to obey God.
- Give them real world experiences and examples from the lives of others. If they are working on something, can it be used to serve others and share their faith? Are there members of your congregation who can testify how much richer and fuller their life is because of obeying God in that area? Young people want to see God and their church make a positive difference in the world today. It’s not just an academic exercise for them. They want the church of the first century that was changing the world around them. Giving them ways to use what they are learning to serve others and share their faith will resonate with them more than hours of theoretical discussion. Hearing the real stories of others can also reinforce God’s truths.
It doesn’t matter what curriculum you are given to teach the Bible to your students. Adding these elements, will help engage your students in actually being the Christians God wants them to be. It’s worth the extra time and effort it may take you to give them these added connections to scripture.