We were recently with a sr. high student ministry for a weekend event. They told a story about a time when one of the students in their group stumbled over some words as he read scripture aloud. He got flustered and said, “I don’t speak bible!” It became a catch phrase and a story for this group.
This statement kept ringing in my head following the weekend. I think it’s probably safe to say in many cases, sr. high students don’t really speak “bible”.
Fourteen, fifteen and sixteen year olds are definitely old enough to take time to read and memorize scripture. Of course, beginning when they are young is important too, but no matter where they are in their faith walk, by the time they are in youth group, digesting and studying scripture is foundational. Of course, just telling students to read, doesn’t necessarily mean they will. So, we have to help them learn and grow in it.
Take time to read scripture during meetings and conversations. Show them scriptures that can be helpful in troubling times. Show them scripture that reach down to the depths of human longing: for living water, life to the full and love for others. Give them opportunities and motivation for memorizing and hiding God’s word in their heart.
I think general youth ministries (especially the denominations I am primarily working in) are losing lots of steam because 14, 15, 16, 17, and 18 year old young men and women are coming and going never having the privilege (or the instruction) to live life in God’s Word.
This reflection on my trip home from this event also convicted me. A deep desire for scripture – hearing it and living it out – must begin in us as leaders.
For the sake of the kingdom and the lives in your circle of influence – start “speaking bible” today!