No matter how much Bible your students are taught in your class, at your church or at home, they need to develop a habit of independent Bible reading. There are a lot of reasons why most Christians don’t read their Bibles on a daily basis. A lot of it has to do with not developing good habits at young ages.
Since you probably don’t live with your Bible students, you will need to find ways to encourage them to establish not only the habit of daily read, but also the strong desire to spend time in God’s Word each day.
There are some simple things you can do or suggest students do to help.
- Make sure each Bible student has an easy to read Bible at home. The NIrV version is written at a third grade reading level. With adult covers, it looks like every other Bible, but will be easier for students to read and understand. The Bible should have at least a basic Bible dictionary in it. Maps and concordances found in study Bibles can also be helpful. (For serious Bible students, the American Standard version is considered by many to be the most accurate.)
- Help them analyze their schedules for a natural time to read the Bible. Do they always eat a big breakfast at the table? Take a snack break after school? Read for thirty minutes before going to sleep? Anything they do every day, that can have a few minutes of Bible reading easily attached to it, works best.
- Help them choose what to read. The Bible is a library of 66 books. It can be overwhelming. Starting at Genesis and reading straight through is rarely the best for young people. Start them on Proverbs. With 31 chapters, they can just read the chapter with the number corresponding to the day’s date. If they miss a day, just pick up with the chapter for the date when they start reading again. Then move them to books heavy in stories like the Gospels, Acts, Ruth, Esther, Genesis, etc.
- Start small. Even a chapter can be overwhelming for some people. Suggest they look at the verse a day on the Bible app on their phone and really think about it during the day. Or suggest the Proverbs reading plan. Instead of committing to the entire chapter though, they promise to read at least one verse in the chapter each day. If they want to read the entire chapter, great, but one verse is also fine on those tough days.
- Help them find visual clues to remind them. Placing their Bible or a huge reminder note where they will see it at the appropriate time is key. When starting a new habit, sometimes we don’t fail to do it as much as we forget to do it. Seeing that reminder will eliminate that as an excuse.
- Help them problem solve. Have students who seem to really want to read their Bibles, but are struggling? Have a week where you went from most of the class reading their Bibles daily to virtually no one and they all have the same excuse? Helping students problem solve any obstacles that are hindering them is key. It’s especially important if the adults in their home aren’t encouraging daily Bible reading.
- Celebrate victories – even small ones. Some Bible class teachers try shaming or embarrassment as motivators for Bible reading. Instead celebrate victories. Did anyone read their Bible this week? More people than the week before? More people reading daily? More verses being read? It doesn’t matter if you are celebrating the success of one person or one hundred people, celebrating encourages people to keep trying.
- Model Bible reading. Your students need to know you are passionate about daily Bible reading in your own life. If you don’t read the Bible daily, you can’t expect them to think it’s important enough for them to try.
For your Bible students to grow up to be mighty men and women of God, they need to spend an incredible amount of time reading the Bible. Helping them develop the habit when they are young can make it a lifelong habit for them.