How to get your teen to study the Bible on their own?
Do you worry about the faith of your teenager you? Are worry about them wandering away? Do you wonder if their relationship with Jesus will grow? Plus, do you desire to help them as best as you can to make good choices? The key is to cultivate a habit of reading the Bible at least four times a week. So, the big question is how to get your teen to study the Bible on their own?
My last two posts have laid out the convicting results of a study by the Center for Biblical Engagement. The study is well done and it very compelling.
Before continuing, check out those two articles right here:
Can we make a difference??
Now you are back from reading those posts, and your heart is full. You love your children and want them to love Jesus with all their heart.
“I have no greater joy than to hear that my children are walking in the truth.” 3 John 1:4
As parents, we worry so much. Different experts and other parents tell us that we need to be doing this and doing that. We worry if we are doing enough. Diligently, we take our children to Sunday School, to worship, and to mid-week activities. We try to talk to them about their lives and relate what they are going through to the Bible. We wonder though if we are doing enough? What causes some children to grow up with vibrant faith? What results in other children walking away from the faith? Is there anything that we can do to improve our child’s odds of having deep faith?
We have reason to worry. Studies show that 8 out of 10 children from evangelical homes will walk away from the faith by the time they hit college age. People will argue that they come back, which only some do.
The goal should be for no children to walk away from the faith for any length of time. We want to raise children who have a passionate, vibrant faith that they own as their own.
How do we make those goals happen? Can we influence the outcome? That is why I love studies that give us actual data that we can apply to help us answer these questions. Real data that help us focus our efforts in productive ways.
The data from the Center for Bible Engagement shows that helping our teenagers develop a Bible study habit that they live out at least four times a week will have a profound impact on their lives.
Are our teens engaging with the Bible?
Over a third of tweens and almost a fifth of teens do not read the Bible even once a week. About 40% of tweens and around 45% of teens read the Bible one to three times a week. Just over a quarter of tweens and about 37% of teens read the Bible four to seven times a week. That last category is the one that you want for your tweens & teens.
The data shows that 4 is the tipping point for making a huge difference in the lives of Christians.
“A key discovery from the CBE research is that the life of someone who engages scripture 4 or more times a week looks radically different from the life of someone who does not. In fact, the lives of Christians who do not engage the Bible most days of the week are statistically the same as the lives of non-believers.” http://www.backtothebible.org/research
This study spends time looking specifically at the behavior of teens. The author says that “how often one reads or listens to the Bible seems a particularly strong protective factor for teens.”
What is the impact of reading the Bible frequently for teens?
The teens that engaged in their Bible at least four times a week were less likely to participate in a host of behaviors. The study looked at behaviors such as smoking, getting drunk, having sex outside of marriage, pornography, and other harming behaviors. Teens who study the Bible at least four times a week had “the lowest involvement in all behaviors except pornography.” They were 82% less likely to smoke and 80% less likely to get drunk.
The influence on sex outside of marriage and pornography were much more profound for adult Christians. This is certainly an area whereas parents we need to engage in intentional Biblical teaching. Pornography is addicting and can have a life-long impact on a young person’s intimate relationships.
For those that read their Bibles at least four times a week, still 8% viewed pornography, and 6% had sex outside of marriage. Those are ideas we will explore in a future post. Just because studying the Bible is a not a one-shot wonder, doesn’t mean that this impact is not profound.
How to get your teen to study the Bible on their own?
You need to be studying your Bible. They need to see you modeling the behavior that you want them to cultivate. Teens need hear you talk to them about the impact that it makes in your life. They need to see you sacrifice to make time to prioritize it in your schedule. As parents, we have to talk the talk and walk the walk. It is okay not to be perfect; our children will never be perfect. They need us to model being a humble learner.
They need you to model Bible study.When we taught them to sweep the floor, we didn’t just hand them a broom. We showed them how to how the broom and where to place their hands. We showed them how to pull the broom. It took time and patience. It didn’t come easily or right away. Our children need to be taught how to have a quiet time.
Teens have to be taught how to study the Bible. We can do this through family Bible study and through one on one study. The focus is not on telling them what we think that they need to know but helping them to ask the right questions and uncover truths for themselves. Eventually, they will be equipped to do it on their own. They need to know it is okay to have questions and that sometimes you do too! They need to be equipped with some of the resources and strategies that you use to get answers and to understand when you are confused.
Invite them. Sometimes we look at our children and don’t see all that they are capable of doing. Invite them into a more mature relationship with Jesus. Give them a challenge. Set the expectation that this is what mature Christians do to grow their faith. Of course, they are teenagers. You have to make them think it is their idea!
Give teens choices. Let them choose where and when they want to study. Let them choose what they want to study.
Give teens a plan. If they don’t have a plan, don’t leave them hanging. When we first started to ride a bike, we needed training wheels. It takes time to learn how to study the Bible on your own. Help your teen find a Bible study that they like and in which they feel ownership. Teens are busy. Consider the Focused(15) studies of Katie Orr as an option. Mom, your son may not find the Bible studies you like appealing. No offense. Look for some “guy” Bible studies and let him pick one.
Reward your teen. Now, this may sound odd at first. Reward them for reading the Bible?? It is worth it. Forming new habits is a hard process. Often when we adults are trying to set a new habit of exercising, eating better, or sticking to a budget – we will reward ourselves with some kind of treat or splurge. It helps us to stay focused and on task as we go through the struggles of this new habit.
Use peer pressure to your advantage. It would be awesome if your teen’s youth group or Sunday School class could do a 90 challenge together. You can always do one with your teen. If you both stay the course, you get to go do something fun together.
Build in mulligans. New habits are hard. We fall down and fail. Our teens need gracious ways to get back on track and to know that is normal and okay.
Eyes of the Prize: Get your teen to study the Bible
Four times a week or more is our goal. That journey starts with the first steps of laying a foundation for a life-long habit of Bible Study.
Sometimes challenges like this have to start with us. Being intentional about raising our children to be passionate followers of Christ can redeem the spiritual practices of two generations!
Do you have family Bible study at your house? Do your children and teens study on their own? What are some great devotionals that you have found to help your teen get started?
Need a chart to for your teen to study the Bible and use to keep track of their Bible reading. Get a 4x Bible tracker in the box on the right or below.