One of the frustrations teens and young adults growing up in the Church express is their inability to make meaningful connections between all of the bits of information they have learned from the Bible. They believe (often incorrectly) that they know the Bible well, but no one has taught them how all of those things they learned fit together in a Christian worldview and faith.
There are things we can do in Bible classes to help them make these connections and understand their importance. Professional educators call it elaboration – taking a general concept and expanding it out to include any relevant information that connects to it.
In a Bible class, there are several practical ways to facilitate elaboration. Perhaps the most straightforward is to throw out a biblical concept like honesty. Grab a large area of space to record answers students give to the question, “What does the Bible teach us about honesty?”
Encourage students to name stories and scriptures that discuss honesty. Then have them analyze those verses to find what commands and principles God has put within them. In the story of Ananias and Sapphira, for example, they told what many today would describe as a half truth. They were donating some of the money, not all of it. Yet, God punished them severely for that half truth, making it clear that to God, any type of lie is abhorrent.
You can also ask students to compare two or three similar things in scripture. Preferably, the things are related in some way. So for example, they might compare the reigns of the first three kings of Israel or the prophecies of Isaiah and Jeremiah. Or they might try to find connections between the stories of Jonah, Lazarus and Jesus.
Finally, encourage students to share their observations of connections with others. Preparing to teach a class on godly principles found in parables or applying the Sermon on the Mount to the teen life, can encourage them to spend time finding connections.
If you don’t help your Bible students learn how to find those connections in scripture, they can assume the Bible is just a confusing book with random bits of wisdom, commands and stories thrown together. They will have a difficult time moving from that understanding of scripture to the ability to actually apply it to their lives. It’s worth taking some class time to teach them how to find those connections.