Photo by Alexis Brown on Unsplash
Photo by Alexis Brown on Unsplash

Bible Study with Teens

Question

We have two early-teen and pre-teen daughters and whenever we try to initiate a bible study they show NO interest.  We want to help them discover the relevance of God’s word concerning both personal and social issues in their lives, but are having a difficult time get them to respond.  What have other parents found helpful?

Answer

The problem isn’t just one that parents have with kids.  Some study’s suggest that less than 5% of adult believers read it on a daily basis.  The only time many Christians even hear scripture is if they go to a church that actually teaches the Bible.  Since most adults struggle with valuing time in the word it’s no wonder that your young daughters might have an even greater struggle.

At the outset . . . we can tell our kids how important the Bible is, but unless they see happening in our lives they are unlikely to see the relevance of Scripture for their own lives.

Do they see how scripture has made a difference in your lives?  Do they see you reading your bible at times other than Sundays?  Do they see you doing Bible studies or hear you discussing scripture with some of your friends?  Do they see you turn to God’s word during difficult times?  Do they know specific promises that God has used to encourage you and have they seen you hang onto those promises during dark and difficult times? 

My first suggestion is to start with short periods of time.  In a generation that has grown up with sound-bites and media that reinforces a short attention span it is difficult for most kids to focus on much of anything for 5-10 minutes let alone spend 25-30 minutes.  Especially when it doesn’t seem interesting or relevant to them.

A valuable starting place is to know where your daughters are developmentally and spiritually. What are some of the life questions that they have?  What are their struggles and concerns?  What do other mom’s say their daughters are struggling with?  For them to be interested they have to see how it is relevant at least in some way to their day-in and day-out lives otherwise it’s just like doing more irrelevant homework.

While a book study is always beneficial, most parents have had the best success with character studies.  With two daughters it might be most effective to start with some character studies of women in the Bible.  You might even use a book that looks at women of the Bible

During your “study” it’s important that when possible you discuss it with your Bible’s open and have them read the text out loud for themselves.  Many have found that there is something especially powerful about hearing ourselves read God’s words and it seems to especially help young people stay focused.  Be sure to end each time with a season of prayer for each other. 

Remember, because they don’t seem excited it doesn’t mean that they aren’t learning something and that God isn’t at work in their lives.  The Bible tells us not to be weary in well doing—smile.  I strongly encourage your desire for you daughters to understand and be able to apply God’s word in their lives.  Remember that it is impossible for God’s word to return void—in the long run it will make a difference.

Gary J. Oliver, ThM, PhD
Executive Director at Center for Healthy Relationships | + posts

Dr. Oliver is the Executive Director of The Center for Healthy Relationships, and professor of Psychology and Practical Theology at John Brown University.  He has authored over 20 books and more than 350 professional and popular articles.  Dr. Oliver has over 40 years’ experience as a Clinical Psychologist, Marriage  & Family Therapist and Spiritual Director.  He leads seminars & workshops both nationally and internationally on a variety of counseling-related issues, healthy relationships as well as Emotional & Relational Intelligence (ERI).

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