Christians understand the importance of God’s Word, and we want others to understand that importance too. But when it comes to a younger generation, like teenagers for example, sometimes we try too hard to make the God’s Word relevant for them. Examples of this are trendy Bibles, pastors portraying a hipster-like Jesus, and youth groups that focus mostly on fun to keep teens attentive. When we try too hard like this to make God’s Word relevant and cool, we simply end up confirming the suspicions of those who think the Bible is boring and irrelevant, as Eric McKiddie says.
Eric McKiddie, a pastor and blogger, has written an article for The Gospel Coalition titled Stop Trying to Make the Bible Relevant to Teenagers. According to McKiddie, we don’t need to make the Bible relevant…because it already is! The Bible is relevant to all peoples, all cultures, all ages…and it is relevant on its own accord. So if the Bible is already relevant, why are teenagers disinterested in learning about it?
“The sad reality is that many young people don’t take to God’s Word because they’re spiritually dead. This is why they don’t ‘long for the pure spiritual milk’(1 Pet. 2:1). Yet even this is no excuse to water down the Bible or ignore it, since God does his work to make us ‘born again...through the living and abiding word of God’ (1 Pet. 1:23).”
Parents and youth leaders don’t need to add relevance to the Bible as it is already there, but they can draw out that existing relevance for their youth. McKiddie describes it as the difference between adding cream and sugar to your coffee versus “bringing out the intense flavors of a French Press.” He offers three key steps for bringing out the relevance of God’s word for your teen:
1. Explain why we need what the Bible teaches, showing your teen that that need cannot be met by anything else.
2. Point out examples in the Bible of what your teen may be experiencing (depression, bullying, broken hearts, struggling to fit in, identity issues etc.) and the solutions presented, which are often different from how we would normally react.
3. Relate every example and solution back to what Jesus has done for us and how He makes new life possible.
“When young people go through difficult times, for example, they often wonder if God cares. Where is God? they ask. During those times, Scripture’s relevance crashes into their experience. Israel claims, ‘My way is hidden from the LORD, and my right is disregarded by my God’ (Isa. 40:27).Yet the prophet goes on to say that God gives power to the faint as they wait for him to intervene. The answer might not come right away, but God empowers us as we trust him to act. This is what Jesus experienced on the cross, after all. The Father turned away from the Son, then raised him on the third day. And because we’re united to Jesus through faith we know God will act for us, too.”
In order to share a deepened relevance of Scripture with anyone, we need to continue learning more of Scripture ourselves. For if we understand the relevance that God’s Word brings to our own lives, we can share that relevance with others and how it affects their life as well. The Bible can break through to any heart with the power of the Holy Spirit.
To read Eric McKiddie's article in its entirety please visit TheGospelCoalition.org.
Scripture’s relevance speaks for itself...so let’s know God’s Word more deeply and present it out of love to others.
A fun activity to help your teen study their Bible would be to pick a book to study together. Provide highlighters, colored pens, or a journaling Bible to help them actively take part in their learning and stay focused. Check out Crosswalk Contributor Kevin Halloran’s article 5 Blessings of Marking Up Your Bible.
Publication date: July 25, 2016
Liz Kanoy is an editor for Crosswalk.com.