Thinking & Bible Classes For Young People (Part 2)

There is an urgent need for young people attending Bible classes to dive deeper into God’s Words than most curricula currently encourages them to do. Much of what is done today is patterned after our secular school models. Unfortunately, secular education has become focused on memorization and recall rather than thinking and understanding. Being able to recite scriptures and even explain them, doesn’t mean our young people know how to live them or have even spent any time thinking about if and why they should.

We need to make changes in the way we teach young people the Bible in quite a few areas. The changes needed to encourage deeper level thinking, understanding and implementation will be a little more difficult perhaps than some of the other changes we need to make.

Just because they will take more thought and intentionality on our parts though, doesn’t mean we should refuse to make the changes our young people need. If we are serious about helping them build stronger faith foundations and developing to their godly potential, then our students absolutely need us to make these adjustments in the ways we teach them.

So what are some things you, as a Bible class teacher, can do to help students shift away from memorizing and remembering and add thinking, understanding and implementing? There are probably quite a few things you can do, but this will at least get you started.

  • Ask better questions. Many teachers ask students questions which only ask for them to recall details of a Bible story. A few might delve into slightly deeper levels of knowledge. Asking a variety of questions requiring students to process what they have been taught on deeper levels will increase the likelihood they will think more deeply about the topic. Not every student is ready for every level. Mixing the types of questions up though, will increase learning in students who are ready for them and encourage students who may not quite be ready yet. Our free handouts, Bloom’s Taxonomy for the Bible Class and Asking Better Questions in Bible Classes can help.
  • Encourage deeper student questions. Often Bible class teachers actually discourage the more important questions students have because of a lack of time or a fear of being unable to answer them correctly. Sadly, this discourages those students who are trying to dive deeper into what God has to tell them. It also allows student doubts to linger, giving someone who doesn’t believe in God the opportunity to convince them of something that isn’t true. If you are worried about time and the answers you may give, hand each student a card at the beginning of the lesson. Encourage them to jot down their questions. Then take them home, research the answers and give students the answers in your next class. If a student misses, it’s a great excuse for touching base with them.
  • Plan activities that are hands-on, experiential and require students to process the lesson in some way in order to complete them. A coloring sheet or a game that is purely fun, won’t encourage even basic thinking about a lesson. Activities can be fun, but designed so students also have to think more deeply about the Bible lesson. We have lots of great, free ideas on our website.
  • Give kids and teens activities to help them learn and practice how to do the things God wants them to do. A Bible student may want to handle conflicts in more godly ways, but if everyone around him isn’t, how will he learn what to do? Our free teen curriculum Living the Christian Life is designed with not only longer lessons, but also activities teens can do to help them learn some Christian Life Skills. Many of these activities could be adapted for older elementary students, too.
  • Encourage students to make connections. Questioning, projects and service opportunities are great ways to help Bible students make connections not only between things in the Bible, but also between the Bible and their lives. You will need to gently guide them through the process to make sure the connections they are making are valid.
  • Help students compare and contrast different viewpoints. Why are the seemingly, reasonable points made by an atheist not valid? Teens especially need guided exposure to the logical fallacies and lies they will be told by non-Christians and false teachers. Why might what the professor say not be as smart as it sounds when God says the opposite? Often, students are just told “Because God says so” and not given any further explanations. While for some things, that may be the only answer, for most there are logical consequences tied to obedience and disobedience. Often educated “truths” are later found to be false and what the Bible has said for thousands of years more accurate than what has been taught in schools for a few decades. Without guided helping thinking about these things in depth, our Bible students are left extremely vulnerable.
  • Encourage them to share the conclusions they are forming. Often from a lack of knowledge, lack of life experience or exposure to false teachings, Bible students are forming very different conclusions than we believe they are forming. We need to know not only what conclusions they are actually forming, but also why they are forming them. Otherwise, their theology may be as accurate as a sweet three year old’s drastic mis-interpretation of an event.
  • Help them put all of the pieces together. How does prayer fit with avoiding temptation? Or how do service and faith sharing fit together? What does a person’s heart have to do with their actions? How are we not saved by works, yet the New Testament is filled with all of these things it seems God wants us to do? It’s quite likely most of our young people have understood and even embraced pieces of their faith. Yet they struggle with how to put the various pieces together to create the Christian life God wants them to live. We need to plan activities and have discussions which encourage them to try and fit the pieces of this crucial puzzle together and then live their lives that way.

Will adapting how we teach young people the Bible to include these elements take a lot of time and effort? Absolutely. If we want our young people to build unshakeable faith foundations and develop to their godly potential though, we need to start really putting in the time and effort it will take to help them do it.

Categories Bible, Elementary, Faith Based Academic Program, Mentoring, Preschool, Special Needs, Teens
search previous next tag category expand menu location phone mail time cart zoom edit close