We live in an age where tech savvy is considered wisdom. Where anyone can have multiple answers to any question – carefully curated for their preferences – within seconds. A world where logical fallacies abound and are largely unchallenged as people accept “truth” not by evidence, but by popular opinion. Is it any wonder that many older children and teens consider the Bible to be outdated and out of touch with the world today?
Bible lessons are usually designed to help learners know what God wants them to do. The expectation is that the relevance of that information is clear to the student. It may have been when popular culture pretended to follow Judeo-Christian ethics and promoted them as the norm (I personally believe the amount of sin in the world is somewhat stable, but whether or not it is considered socially acceptable for people to sin is what varies.) Today, young Bible students are more likely to hear sinful behaviors and attitudes touted as “loving”, “intelligent” and “good for everyone” than biblical ones.
We can no longer assume the relevance of Bible stories and scripture are obvious. Nor can we refuse to discuss the relevance of God’s Words because young people “should just obey God because He is God”. While that is true in many ways, it is not helping young people where they are spiritually and emotionally – immature babies needing milk from the Bible.
Spoon feeding relevance to them may help a bit, but I have met too many teens claiming to know all of the stories in the Bible, but not understanding what to do with all of that information. Ignoring the fact that they probably have only been exposed to about 20% of scripture, the statement reveals another important fact. All of those application lessons we thought we were making so clear have by and large missed their mark. They may not have any idea what is truly important about a passage of scripture they read.
So why not task them with thinking deeper and finding what about a scripture would be relevant to their lives now and in the future? Let’s ask questions that make them examine their lives in light of what is being taught in Bible class – and how their lives would be impacted if they obeyed God’s commands and principles. Then once they understand the relevance, challenging them to not only live it, but share it with others so they too can obey God.
Be careful though. This examination cannot be unguided – at least at first. Mature Christians need to be a part of the discussion pointing out important knowledge and understanding they may be missing. The way many people use the Socratic method in teaching is not appropriate for finding relevance in scripture. It’s too easy for young people who are left unguided to ignore or filter what they are reading through the eyes of popular culture – and that never ends well.
Let’s spend more time not only helping students understand the relevance of scripture, but teaching them how to eventually find it accurately without your guidance. If they understand the relevance of a passage, they are more likely to want to obey it. It’s a Christian life skill they need to learn and practice regularly.