I looked up from doing dishes with my mom to see three young men in their early 20‘s huddled around my dad and my pastor. I was curious what was going on that was so important. As I listened in it didn’t take me long to figure out what was happening. My dad and my pastor were explaining the importance of letting scripture speak for itself and studying it intently. For me this was not anything new, but for these 3 young men it was like gold. They like sponges soaking up every word. These guys go to church and most of them grew up in student ministry, but for them, this was the first time anyone explained the importance of allowing the text to speak for Itself and why context is king.
I sat across the table with a girl from my small group who had distanced herself from me. She sat under teaching in a church that was false and believed what was taught because it appeared to be true. When I sat with her and tried to put a passage of scripture she threw at me in context, she looked at me stunned. It was clear to me that she had only read a few verses and never the full story. No one had ever shown her the importance of context.
I sat in a local mega-church service with my family. The pastor clearly spoke things that were not Biblically true from the pulpit. People cheered because they didn’t know truth.
Each of these stories happened to me recently and each renewed a passion inside of me. These stories remind me why it is important for us to teach the next generation to study inductively.
I’ve worked with students for almost 10 years and I have seen a growing trend that scares me and makes me nervous for the future. The trend is a generation that is illiterate when it comes to the Bible. We have a growing generation that does not know Truth. They don’t know who Moses, Abraham, Joshua, or Daniel are, what Covenant , sacrifice, the feasts, or the Exodus are. Are you alarmed yet? You should be. This generation is the group of people that in the coming years will direct our politics, lead our churches, and teach our children and grandchildren. If they do not know Truth, if we have not taught them the importance of scripture, then we have failed.
What are your thoughts toward the next generation? How do you view them? Do you see them as lazy and loud kids who dress funny, wear jeans to church and can’t sit through a sermon? Or do you see them as hope, salt and light, and your brothers and sisters in Christ who desperately need to be discipled because they are our future? It is OUR responsibility to train up the next generation. I’m so grateful that Precept Ministries International believes in training up the next generation. I am so grateful that they haven’t lost hope in the coming generations.
I’d like to share with you some things I have learned about teaching the next generation Inductive Bible Study:
- They can handle it. Yes these are the same students that study Chemistry, Physics, Anatomy & Physiology, British & American Literature. If they can handle those things then they can handle studying God-breathed and inspired Truth.
- They don’t know how to think for themselves. This may sound like I’m contradicting myself, but hang in there with me. These students are used to being spoon fed. They are used to someone feeding them information that they then memorize and spit back out on a test somewhere. None of this involves actually thinking on their own. So you will probably have to teach them how to think for themselves. DO NOT feed Truth to them. Allow them to discover Truth for themselves. It is when we personally deal and struggle with Scripture that it also gets written in our heads and on our hearts.
- Care about them as people. Students probably won’t care a thing about you if you don’t care about them. And they most likely won’t listen to what you have to teach them if they don’t think you care. Don’t PRETEND to care, really care for them and about them, and even love them. Students need a lot of encouragement. Most students I work with are dealing with things so much harder than I had to deal with as a student. So love (the agape kind) them and show them you care!
- Realize the importance of Truth in their lives. They are being told what to think and what to believe every minute of every day. The media, tabloids, tv, and even their friends are overloading them. If they don’t know Truth they will be tossed about by every wind and wave of doctrine (Ephesians 4:14).
- Be patient. This goes along with number 2. Be patient with them as they learn to think for themselves. Don’t give them the answers; allow the process to be slow. Allow truth to sink into their heads and their hearts. Continue to press on!
- Teach them the basics by doing. Most students will learn best if you don’t just teach at them, but lead them through Inductive Bible Study by allowing them to do it. So, don’t just tell them about marking a passage or making a list. Mark a passage, make lists, do cross-references and word studies TOGETHER. Show them how to find a key word. Walk them through asking the 5W’s and an H. Allow them to do it and experience it, not just hear about it.
- Repetition is Important. Don’t just show them once and expect them to get it. Just like any of us, they may not get it the first time. It’s okay, don’t allow them to give up. Keep on practicing and learning together.
- Make them SLOW DOWN. Most of us, but especially students, want to fly through things. Most students want things to be easy and to come easy. Slowing down makes them think and makes them process through the text. This is KEY in Inductive Bible Study. I know you know this, but it is important to emphasize. Slow down, read the words on the page, process the words on the page. This is not their history or English homework, this is life transforming TRUTH.
- Have fun. Studying the Bible is exciting…so ACT like it. Be excited about studying it and allow students to be excited about what they are learning. Celebrate victories with them and encourage them when they feel defeated.
This is in no way an exhaustive list, but these are some main things that I have learned as I have led students in Inductive Bible Study. I hope in some way I have bent your heart toward the next generation. I know I am so very grateful for the people that invested in me. The people who had faith in me, challenged me, spoke truth into my life, held me accountable for truth, and encouraged me to train the next generation. You see, I had the benefit of growing up learning how to study inductively. I started going to Boot Camp when I was in the 9th grade; I’m now 28 and training the next generation. I now know as an adult that learning to study the Bible for myself was the number one determining factor in who I am today.
I want to take you back to the first story I shared with you. These three young men are now learning to study inductively. I have had the joy of walking some of them through the process. These guys are hungry for Truth and to have it written on their hearts. They are not only studying, but owning Truth for themselves and encouraging others around them to do the same. My precious husband is one of these three men and I have watched Truth flood into every part of who he is. He is studying Titus inductively and the Holy Spirit is convicting and urging him toward sound doctrine (Titus 2:1 & 2:6-8). Sound doctrine, how fitting. It is so important as believers that we allow the Bible to speak for itself, that we seek out pure doctrine as Titus says in 2:6-8. The second two stories I shared with you are examples of what happens when people do not care about or simply do not know sound doctrine. Are you concerned yet? If you really care about the next generation, then please teach them to seek out the Truth and to allow the Bible to speak for itself. That is exactly what teaching them Inductive Bible Study does. So…. please GO and train the next generation, they are our future! If we do not stand up for the teaching of Truth and become intentional about teaching it, then who will they listen to? I don’t know about you, but from what I have experienced, it is pretty scary to leave the training of Truth to those who do not really care for Truth and don’t protect the purity of it.
SO….what are YOU going to DO about it? Please join me and let’s impact the next generation!
Ashlee is a native New Mexican living as a missionary in Texas. She is a small group leader in the youth group of her church and has been involved with Transform Student Ministries for 13 years. She knows she brings nothing to the table with her relationship with God and any ministry He allows her to be a part of. She is a hostile enveloped in the grace of God.