Teenagers are at a crux in their lives. They are no longer children, but most are not yet living on their own. This is the time they will start to prepare for adulthood by developing skills. Many parents and guardians realize this and start to teach their teens how to do the laundry, drive a car, or create a budget. But even more important than those skills are spiritual practices that deepen our intimacy with God. Like any other skill, reading and memorizing God’s Word and prayer must be taught and modeled if we desire teens to practice them on their own in adulthood.
But for many parents, teens, and even youth group leaders, leading a teenager in Bible study can feel intimidating. You might not know where to start, how to engage them, or feel that you do not have all the answers.
As a youth leader for the past decade, I can assure you from experience that almost everyone feels this way. Some of us consider ourselves ill-equipped to disciple teenagers because we put the burden of their salvation on ourselves. We believe that what we say and how we act will end up saving them or condemning them. But, your role in a teenager’s life is to train and teach; it is not to save and sanctify. The Spirit alone can transform hearts and minds (Titus 3:4–7). So instead of teaching our teens how to study Scripture out of a burden to save them, we train them in spiritual practices as a way to honor God.
Three considerations when teaching your teen how to spend time in God’s Word
One of the greatest ways for us to train our teens to study the Word and pray is to practice them together. Invite your teenager into your quiet time daily, weekly, or monthly and encourage them to model your spiritual practices. As you spend time in God’s Word with a teenager, consider the following:
1. Give your teen ownership
As teenagers prepare for adulthood, they crave independence. The more you allow them to have ownership over their time with God, the more likely they are to engage.
- One thing you can give them ownership over is the Bible they study. If they do not have a Bible of their own, pick one out together or if they are using the same Bible from their childhood, consider allowing them to choose one for this new stage of life. For ideas, The Daily Grace Co. has a variety of options you could show them.
- Next, choose a book of the Bible or a Bible study to complete together or practice Scripture memory together. If you are not sure where to start, going through one of the four Gospels (Matthew, Mark, Luke, and John) is a great introduction. Each time you meet with your teen, you can cover one chapter at a time. If your teen wants to go through a study, The Lord’s Prayer Study and The Attributes of God Study are great resources from The Daily Grace Co.® that are accessible for teenagers (these resources come in both a women’s and men’s version so you can use them with any teen!)
2. Hold your teen accountable
Ask your teen over dinner or when you see them at school or church if they have read their Bible that day, or pick a memory verse you can recite together regularly. If they are struggling or falling behind, we can be quick to show mercy. Not only will this be an encouragement for your teenager to remain steadfast in their time with God, but it will also show them that you care for them and reflect God’s mercy. If they are struggling to spend time with God consistently, use that as an opportunity to ask questions about why they are struggling.
3. Be a safe place for questions
Some adults feel intimated when engaging with teenagers because they think they need to have answers to all their questions. But that is not the case. God does not expect His people to know everything, but instead urges us to ask Him for wisdom when we need it (James 1:5). If you are asked a question you do not know the answer to, you can use that as an opportunity to show your teenager how to find answers to difficult questions. If you feel unsure how to tackle difficult questions, check out the following blogs: The Fruitful Place of I Don’t Know and Five Ways to Study Difficult Passages in Scripture.