Don’t panic! We aren’t suggesting you allow teens complete freedom in designing a Bible class that actually has no Bible content. We are however, suggesting you take a slightly different approach to how we have historically taught teens the Bible.
In most youth ministries, the minister or Bible class teacher decides what will be taught. It may be something randomly chosen or because the adults in the ministry are concerned about a particular issue with teens. The problem is that many times the adults are making their choices based on an article they read somewhere or a podcast they heard, rather than any knowledge about what is actually concerning the teens in their particular ministry.
The other issue is that in theory teens should be moving away from parent and church led faith being spoon fed to them and towards a more independent faith where they are intentionally feeding themselves spiritually. Yet, in many churches, young people are fed spiritual milk throughout their teen years and into early adulthood if we can find a way to continue the process.
Part of helping anyone develop maturity – spiritual or otherwise – is encouraging them to take personal responsibility for that area of their lives. At first, adult support and coaching is given, but gradually that is weaned away until the person is able to take responsibility with little outside prodding or help.
You don’t have to let your teens totally run your youth ministry. Why not give them pieces to manage? You can start small by asking them what Bible study they think will help them and their friends grow spiritually. They are probably much more aware of the real issues than most adults would be.
As they show maturity in the topics they suggest, give them ownership of parts of it. Have a few find some scriptures or real life examples. Let them write the questions they want answered. You get the idea.
If you continue moving each teen towards spiritual maturity, you may find several of them are actually ready to plan and teach a lesson themselves. Or plan a spiritual activity for the group.
Gradually preparing teens to accept adult responsibilities in ministry will leave them much better prepared than spoon feeding them the Bible until some random adult age and then expecting them to start teaching Bible classes and planning youth events. Giving them those responsibilities gradually in their teens will also help them discover the gifts God has given them to serve Him and help them find their purpose in the church and in the world. It’s worth the extra time and effort on your part to help them.