There is this knockoff type of Newlywed Game (remember the old game show?) I do with parents and teens. For the “game show” parents and teens answered questions of the other trying to match for points. One of the questions was “Do you read the Bible?”
This one particular daughter answered “no” for her father. I knew this father. He was a good and godly father and he was visibly hurt that his daughter thought he didn’t read his Bible. The “game show” came to a screeching halt as he was processing this. From his vulnerability in front of all of us, he figured out that he was reading his Bible before his daughter woke up for school hence she had never seen him read it.
The problem was that simple—and a HUGE lesson for every parent there. Read your Bible in front of your teen. Even if you prefer to do it in the quiet of the morning before anyone else is awake. Fake it for a few minutes so your teen sees this. There is a lot caught in this practice, sometimes something can be taught too. It is so simple, which may be why a lightbulb just went off in your head.
How do you read the Bible?
One blocker from teens reading their Bibles is the lack of knowledge of how to do it. It’s an odd and powerful book that you just don’t start reading from page 1. Those who have attempted to start at page 1 often don’t make it to page 100 as Exodus gets dry pretty quick after the 10 Commandments. The Bible certainly doesn’t work like Google! These are just some of the obvious blockers teens (and adults!) have to reading their Bibles.
So take a moment to practically explain how you read your Bible to your teen. Pass on tips you’ve learned on your faith journey. If you’ve been reading it for most of your life, my guess is you’ve adapted to several ways to read your Bible. Share each one and why you’ve adapted. The key is to be practical so your teen will pick up his/her own Bible, not be overwhelmed with the how, and read it.
Maybe you have never adopted a Bible reading habit. Now is your chance because you’ve got different tools than you did years ago. The YouVersion Bible app is right there on your device and it has many choices of reading plans. And it may feel less intimidating to open an app to read the Bible instead of the actual Bible. Pick a reading plan together with your teen, commit to it, then hold each other accountable to it. Ask each other questions from the daily readings. Have a conversation about what you discovered individually and maybe together.
Read the Bible while you wait. Do you sometimes wait through a practice for your teen? Or wait if the meeting runs late? Bring your Bible and read it while you are waiting. Or get on your app. Not only is it a good use of your time but more importantly, your teen will catch you reading the Bible.
Don’t shame yourself. You probably don’t think of yourself as a strong “Bible” person. Don’t shame yourself. The people of YouVersion wouldn’t keep bettering the app if the world easily read the Bible. Because of these many updates, and the many new Bible translations, you join a big world of adults who don’t take the time for their own Bible learning. Shame keeps you from trying. Stop the shame and just start now.
Please start now? As a youth pastor I see so many biblically illiterate teens. Many from my “good and church-going” families. I’m so worried about this faith vacuum our future young adults are going to be in. This daily practice of you reading your Bible in front of your teen and having small conversations is one way to turn this around.