Today’s young people have always been virtually connected to the answers of the universe—or so they think. Kids are so used to having unlimited access to information that they see no excuse for not knowing something—even when it comes to their faith. They still have questions about Jesus; they just assume they shouldn’t. “I’m not supposed to have doubts,” a student recently told me. “Not when I can look up any answer I might need.”
But even when teenagers know an answer in their head, that doesn’t mean they know it in their heart. They still struggle with the roller-coaster of doubt.
The best way to overcome doubt is by getting to know Jesus. And the best way to get to know Jesus is by digging into his Word.Click to tweet
Around age 10, our daughter really struggled with doubts. Through tears, she said that nothing she did was providing answers. I told her, “If we want to know the answers to our questions about God, then we go to him. Yes, we pray, but God wrote so much of himself into his living and active Word. You may not like this, but if you want to deal with doubts, read your Bible every day. It doesn’t have to be long, just read.”
She did that, and felt more peace over time. About two years later, her younger brother had similar questions. We said, “Your sister went through this. Why don’t you ask her what helped?” Her response: “You’re not going to like my answer, but start reading your Bible. Every. Day.”
If the Bible helps Jesus’ followers overcome doubts, how can we get teenagers to read the Bible? These suggestions have worked for me:
- Offer a challenge—Remind students that Jeremiah 29:13 says, “If you look for me wholeheartedly, you will find me.” Encourage them to intentionally look for Jesus.
- Bible at your fingertips—Have kids download the free YouVersion Bible app on their phone. They can sign up to receive a verse of the day, devotions, and even reading plans.
- Text a devo—Send students a Bible verse plus a short thought to help them think deeply about Scripture.
- Meme it up—Create Scripture memes using pictures from students. Put them on Instagram or text them to group members.
- Offer a variety of Bibles—Provide Bibles that help young people better understand the whole story of Scripture. The Jesus-Centered Bible puts Jesus’ words and all Old Testament references to him in blue. Pierced is a New Testament with illustrations and notes from actual students. Journaling Bibles provide space to write notes and thoughts, and study Bibles help readers dig deeper into God’s Word.
- Lectio Divina—Teach students the art of praying through Scripture. For details, click here: https://youthministry.com/learning-to-read-the-map/.
- Blue-letter Bible—Have students download the free Blue Letter Bible app. Its treasure trove of commentaries will help young Christ-followers unpack God’s Word in new ways.
- Student-to-student verses—Teenagers can send one another Bible verses daily to stay accountable to the habit of being in the Word.
- Student-led studies—Challenge students to find a spot where they can gather with a few friends for a 15-minute Bible study or devotional during lunch. (Offer to meet with students who lead the groups. Remind them they don’t need to have everything figured out—just a willingness to spend time with Jesus.)
- Question of the day—Send students a daily question via text or social media that challenges them to think more deeply about their faith.
- Breakfast bunch—Meet every other week for breakfast to discuss a cultural topic that students are grappling with.
- Extracurricular extra—When you attend a student’s game, play, or concert, bring a treat with a scriptural encouragement attached as a reminder that Jesus is always with them.
- Small-group shakeup—For six weeks, assign each small group a topic based on cultural and biblical questions students might want to discuss more deeply.
- Model the habit—Take a few students at a time out for coffee. Show them how to dig into the Word, and let them ask questions.
- Anonymous question break—Have students put their questions on index cards. Keep those on hand, and work through them during small-group time occasionally.
- Back-and-forth Bible—Have students keep notebooks about what they’re learning and wondering. Small-group leaders can reply with Bible-based answers.
- Sticky note challenge—Send students a daily Bible verse. Challenge them to rewrite it on a sticky note and carry it around for the day. At night, they can hang it in their room.
- Use LIVE Curriculum for your small groups—It’s an excellent, conversational, deeper-dive curriculum, and it also offers an innovative feature called the “Dailies.” Just enter kids’ info into the app, and it automatically sends them a daily Scripture-based challenge, insight, or experience.
We serve a big God who wants to meet teenagers where they are. However, they may need to hear from you that having a relationship with Jesus isn’t complicated. Young people simply need to start taking time to get to know him.
All our questions won’t be answered until we see Jesus face to face. But we can trust him more as we learn about him and his character. I’m so grateful Jesus provides answers in black and white through his Word.