Many young people say they value daily Bible study, but not so many actually do it.
What's preventing Christian youth from finding passion and power in Scripture? What role do parents and youth leaders play in igniting passion for God's Word? How much of this problem stems from simple lack of education, and how much stems from an institutionalized devaluation of Scripture's power in our churches and individual lives?
We address these questions with this exclusive excerpt from Mike Nappa's new book The Jesus Survey: What Christian Teens Really Believe and Why
.Teens and Bible Study: Hit or Miss?
Through The Jesus Survey
, I wanted to know if Christian teenagers believed that daily Bible study was important for Christians. Next, I wanted to find out about their daily
personal experience with the Bible outside of their church experiences. My first inclination was to ask a question that would help determine whether or not our youth group kids inwardly value something as basic as daily interaction with the Bible. After all, if Bible study is not important to Christian teens, that's significant.
As with all the survey questions, I listed a one-sentence statement for question 23: followers of Christ should study the Bible daily
. Then I asked teenagers to indicate whether or not they agreed with this "values" statement. For question 24, I asked them to respond to this statement regarding their personal actions related to the value of daily Bible study: I study the Bible daily
I evaluated whether to include the word daily
as a clarifier. After all, the general term regularly
would be similarly insightful, or even the phrase "at least once a week" would be revealing. Yet, a teenager who is exposed to Scripture at church once or twice a week could easily, and truthfully, say that he or she studies the Bible "regularly" or "at least once a week" without ever engaging the Bible personally.Question 23: Followers of Christ Should Study the Bible Daily
After their landmark research in the National Study of Youth and Religion (NSYR), Christian Smith and Melinda Denton articulated the key relationship of teen faith with traditional practices of Christian faithfulness. According to these researchers, Christian parents and church leaders should strive to help young people practice faith skills like Bible reading and prayer "in the direction of excellence in faith, analogous to musicians and athletes practicing their skills." Why is that so important? Well, as Smith and Denton report, "Even basic practices like regular Bible reading and personal prayer seem clearly associated with stronger and deeper faith commitment among youth."
I believe these researchers are somewhat right and somewhat wrong in their assessment of this issue. Basic faith practices like Bible study and prayer are associated with what we would term a deeper, more grounded faith. Smith and Denton's conclusion, however, appears to be that this happens because kids are first taught to read the Bible and pray, and then voila
—strong faith results.