A Love for the Bible
As a parent, you want your teen to have the best education they possibly can.
You send them to school, encourage them to do their homework, keep an eye on their grades, and likely help them with college applications. You want them to be as well-prepared as possible for life after graduation—whatever that might look like.
But the biggest thing teenagers need is not a high school or college diploma. We need to learn to love God’s word. We need to study it, memorize it, and treasure it. Because, after all, it’s not just more information to be learned; its instructions aren’t just life skills to master.
It’s the words of our Creator. It’s how God has revealed himself to humanity.
That’s crucial. It’s far more important than any education we could receive. But how can you help your teen learn it? How can you help them study the Bible?
1. Lead by example.
For as long as I can remember I’ve seen both of my parents studying the Bible. Sometimes it’s with a formal group or program, sometimes with other parents, and sometimes just for themselves. I’ve always known that Scripture is important to them personally.
If they had just told me and my brothers to read our Bibles without doing it themselves, I probably would have resented it. I would have seen it as just one more rule I had to follow. But because of their example, I knew it was so much more than that.
Your example is a powerful thing. If you are actively studying the Bible yourself, your teens will understand that it’s important to you. If you’re letting God’s word change the way you live and relate to your kids, they’ll see its transformative power in your life.
2. Include them in your study.
To that end, include your teens in your own studying. This might look like inviting them to join you and some other adults in a formal Bible study (which can be powerful and enriching for all concerned). But it might just as well look very informal.
It could be sharing what you’re learning in your own study and how it relates to your life or theirs (although be careful to avoid turning these times into lecture sessions!). It could even look like sharing a specific question that turned up in your own study and asking for their opinion. Involve them in the process of observing, interpreting, and applying the Scripture.
For a while, my dad and I were both studying the book of John. We were studying different sections with different materials, but we were both wrestling with some of the same truths. I remember countless long conversations about the themes and applications of the book as we worked through it, and those talks left deep impressions that have never faded.
3. Make it part of the family routine.
When we were younger, we had family devotions every night. Now, with me and my brothers all having different activities and responsibilities, it’s a little more sporadic, but we still do it when we can.
When we were younger, my dad would often pick a section of the Bible to go through. Sometimes we’d go through a book or a guided study, but more often it was just reading and seeking to understand the Bible. Lately, each of us kids has been responsible for preparing something to share with the family.
Regardless of the variety in how we structured it, and regardless of how much I sometimes wanted to be anywhere else doing anything else, those regular times in the word and prayer created a rhythm that helped shape our lives around the truth. It helped make the Bible central to our daily existence.
If you’ve never engaged with the Bible as a family, it’s not too late to start. It might look a lot different from how my family or anyone else does it, but the important thing is that you and your family are in the word together.
4. Provide materials.
If you’ve never engaged with the Bible very deeply, being told, “Study it,” can leave you feeling a little lost. Especially for those who have never done any serious Bible study before, having materials to guide the study can be invaluable. Even if your teens have studied the Bible before, having these kinds of helps can eliminate confusion and provide a guideline to follow.
The Holy Spirit is more powerful than all our sin and every barrier we put up against his work in our lives.
There are multitudes of good resources out there. You can use a guided study of a specific book of the Bible, join a church study, or go through a book that teaches the fundamentals of Bible study so your teens can branch out on their own.
5. Remember the Lord does the work.
Your teens might not want to study the Bible.
Actually, there’s a pretty good chance they won’t want to, at least some of them, and at least at first. For a long time, I didn’t want to study the Bible (and sometimes I still don’t want to). I only did it because my parents made me and (later) because I was involved in a competition where I could literally get thousands of dollars for doing it.
I didn’t see any results from my studying for several years. My life didn’t change much and I didn’t have any more love for God or desire for his word than I used to. I gained a lot of head knowledge, but that’s all it was.
But guess what? God still used it. The truth that I learned in pride or even against my will still worked in my heart. The Holy Spirit is more powerful than all our sin and every barrier we put up against his work in our lives. And even when we can’t see it, he is working.
Don’t be discouraged if the work is slow or you don’t see growth right away. It might take months and it might even take years, but keep being faithful to your calling as parents. It does make a difference.
Katherine Forster is the author of Transformed by Truth: Why and How to Study the Bible for Yourself as a Teen.
Christian teenagers attempting to grow in godliness tend to face a series of unique challenges.
Teenagers who are wondering if the Bible is relevant to their lives are often starting off on the wrong footing with Scripture.
Your whole Bible “applies personally.” This Lord is your God; this history is your history; these people are your people; this Savior has brought you in to participate in who he is and what he does.