I believe every Youth Pastor I know would tick the ‘Yes’ box when asked the question “Do you use the Bible in your youth ministry?”
I can’t think of a Youth Pastor who would do otherwise. I can’t think of a Youth Pastor who would think of ticking ‘No’.
It would be expected, wouldn’t it?
After all, youth ministry is a ministry of the church, led by believers, who themselves recognise and prioritise the scriptures. Christians the world over, parents and young people alike, affirm the Bible as the ultimate rule for life and faith.
Yet, when we begin to scratch the surface and ask questions about how we use the Bible in our youth ministries I wonder what answers we might get…?
When we say we use the Bible are we saying…
- …we affirm scriptures as the ultimate guide for life and faith for our young people?
- …we use a verse or two in the youth talk each week?
- …we open and read from the bible in our small groups or bible studies each week?
- …we try to give creative ideas about how students can engage with the Bible?
- …we believe it is a worthwhile text that can be given some consideration in the way we think?
- …we affirm it but never really use it?
- …we want to use it more but are afraid of turning people away?
When I ask myself these questions I challenge myself. I’m challenged to think about how I uphold the Word of God and the God of the Bible in every aspect of youth ministry.
Previously I’ve written about what a Bible-shaped Youth Ministry might look like. In a similar way to this post, the question is asked about how the Bible is useful for our youth ministries. What might helpful from here, however, is thinking about how the Bible might intersect with the way we operate as a youth ministry.
With this in mind here are seven ways we can use the Bible in youth ministry.
1. Use the Bible as a ministry training and leadership tool.
The bible speaks clearly about how the scriptures speak into every part of life and church life. In terms of training our volunteers and leadership teams the Bible is useful for this too. It helps show that the vision we have for our ministry is not something we came up with but something that is biblically grounded (2 Timothy 3:15-17).
2. Use the Bible as the primary way for understanding pastoral ministry.
Scripture teaches ecclesiology, the forming and structure of the church. Youth ministry is part of the church. It has the same intentions as ministry to adults, ministry to children, ministry to seniors, ministry to men, ministry to women etc., just with a different targeted audience. Teaching about ministry and the shape of ministry from the pastoral epistles, for example, is a great way this can be done.
3. Use the Bible as though God is speaking to people.
We understand that the scriptures are God’s words to us. God speaks his truth through the scriptures and it is through these God-inspired books that we are able to know the truth and the heart behind the truth. In shaping a youth ministry around the scriptures is to affirm that God speaks through his Word and will continue to do so today.
4. Use the Bible as a practical tool of defining ministry, not just for giving answers to questions.
Questions arise and answers can be found in scripture. The Bible depicts ourselves, helps in our understanding of God and the world, provides comfort for the hurting, displays God’s character, and outlines God’s plans and purposes for his world. It makes much of the redemption and restoration of God’s creatures (us), the coming together of His Church, and how all things lead to the person and work of Jesus Christ.
5. Use the Bible in youth ministry is to pray through the Bible.
The Bible is great for prayer. Take a portion of Scripture and pray through it. Use the ideas and structure of the passage to inform the way you pray and what you pray.
6. Use the Bible to shape the equipping, teaching, mission and building of community.
Teach and equip others, explore mission and community, through the Bible itself. Whether it is teaching about topics that are current in our culture or whether it is about understanding how biblical community is to be formed, the Bible can help shape these things.
7. Use the Bible in each program and event and meeting.
It’s not hard to use a passage of scripture at a youth group every or in a conversation. This is about confidence in the Bible and its ability to speak to people through its use, whether narrative or epistle or gospel. This isn’t about shoving the Bible down someone’s throat either, but it’s about taking the kernel of truth that exists in any particular passage and letting it be planted into the hearts of those who hear. It is having confidence in the Word of God that understands its sufficiently, clarity, accuracy, and necessity for our ministry.