When we asked the kids what made this game challenging, they said it was because it’s so close you really can’t tell a lot about what it is or where it is! And often, this is the way we teach kids how to read the Bible. We plop them down in the middle of it, with a good story or a good verse, but they still don’t know anything ABOUT the Big Story that they are holding. They don’t know how to orient themselves, and they become overwhelmed with the breadth of the book in their hand. So, instead, they focus on just whatever verse or story we give them. It’s like plopping someone down in the middle of a forest without a compass. You can see the trees that around you, but you don’t know how to orient yourself within that forest. You can end up floundering for days trying to make sense of where you are and where to go next.
When we teach the Bible this way, sometimes, it can become just a collection of good verses and interesting stories, with us floundering for meaning and direction. And, yes, it is filled with good verses and stories, but it’s also so much more! And we want our kids to know how to read the Bible knowing that it’s more.
So this is what we are focusing on over the next few weeks in youth group. The kids are going to engage with the Big Story. We want to focus on teaching them how to ask good questions about what they are readings, what style of literature it is, and how does it fit into the whole connected story of what God is doing.
This past week we focused on the Old Testament, and had the kids attempt to read it the way Old Testament authors meant to write it. It was incredible to watch the kids using Hebrew words and how delighted they were when they pronounced them right! Kids were engaging with Scripture they have never even read before and attempting to say whether or not it belonged in the The Law or the Story of Israel’s beginnings (the Torah), the Prophets (the Nevi’im) or the Writings, Poetry, and Narratives (the Ketuvim).
It was incredible to see the kids rise to the occasion when they were given a big challenge, and shook up what they read and how they read it!
Our hope is, as we continue with this series the kids will gain more confidence in their understanding of Scripture, will be able to take Scripture and put it into it’s larger context and purpose within the Bible, and learn to read the Bible in such a way that it becomes something that challenges, comforts, excites and changes them.
I always say that if the ONLY two things the students got from their time with me was a knowledge that they are loved by God and loved by me, and find themselves with a greater love and curiosity for the Bible, that would be enough.