More than Words on a Page

I collect Bibles. Pretty much everyone collects something. There are shows dedicated to peoples’ odd collections like dolls, baseball cards, coins, spoons, shot glasses, and even belly button lint. However, I collect Bibles. My dad used to get us new Bibles. I remember getting my first kids Bible and my dad offered my 10 cents for every page that I read from my bible. The first time I read through it in a few weeks and my dad paid me the $55 dollars that the pages amounted to. After reading it through again in a week, my dad promptly ended the little deal that we had made. However, my dad’s ploy to peak my interest in God’s word had worked and the spiritual discipline had been instilled in my life. From a very young age I understood the need to read my Bible and in many ways I took it for granted that other people understood that same need.

See, the reason I collect Bibles is because every Bible tells a story.  I got both of my grandfathers’ Bibles when they passed away. My mom’s dad had a Bible that he’d written the plan of salvation in the front of, and it made me wonder how many times he had gone to that handwritten list when talking to someone. I also have a Bible that my dad used when he went to Seattle to plant a church. The Bible has pages falling out of it from overuse and it has highlights all throughout. If you go to the book of Philippians, it is obvious what verses he cherished while he was beginning his ministry as a youth pastor.

However, some Bibles tell a different story. Whether the pages are full of dust or have a water ring stain on the cover from acting as a coaster on your nightstand. The thing is, many of us don’t cherish Scripture like we should. When adults and leaders don’t cherish Scripture, how can we expect our students to cherish Scripture?

Then I noticed a trend in my student ministry. Our students weren’t bringing their Bibles to church. It wasn’t that our students don’t have Bibles, it’s not that our students don’t understand the need to bring their Bibles, it was simply that our students were not bringing their Bibles to church. With that in mind, I knew that I needed to talk to our students about the issue, and I asked in our small groups how many times in the past 30 days our students had read their Bible. Unfortunately, 90% of our students hadn’t read their Bibles more than 4 or 5 times in the past 30 days and many were in the 0 to 2 times range! I’m not talking about lost students here, I’m talking about core students, Christian school students, and students who come from great families. The fact is that we have lost our love for the Scriptures and fail to see just how much God reveals Himself and His love for us within it’s pages.

I was shocked, but at the same time I felt compassion and made it a personal challenge to push our students. In a week following that lesson, many of our students had read their Bible more than in the entire month prior to the lesson. The challenge is not over, rather it has only just begun.

As people in student ministry, we teach complicated doctrines, we come up with trendy titles and font packages, and we try to be hip and relevant. However, our students need to first understand the importance of Scripture before any of our other attempts will matter. We need Scripture to matter both to us and to our students. We must model what a life searching the Scriptures looks like but we must also push our students to be better, and to know God more.

I don’t know what this may look like for you in your life or ministry, but I wanted to give you a few examples of this quest in my personal life. First, I had to start waking up at 5 am. Let me tell you that it seems very early, but a friend of mine named TJ told me that I will feel just as tired and groggy at 6am as I will at 5am so if I pushed through the tiredness at 5am it would give me more time to have a personal quiet time. Secondly, we decided to stop putting the Scripture up on the screen during youth group. I want my students to look, read, and examine the Scriptures for themselves. Many students weren’t bringing their Bibles and the ones that did weren’t opening them, so we decided to force their hand. What steps do you need to take to push both yourselves and your students to dig into the word of God and cherish scripture for what it really is?



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Posted on October 10, 2011, in Spiritual Disciplines and tagged , , , , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink. 2 Comments.

  1. I had the same “problem” when teaching Cathechesis for 8th graders… they liked the words I brought, the teaching I shared, but then no one brought their own bibles (which they have as they receive it in the year following First Communion) and didn’t even know how to look.

    So for weeks my work was to ask them to search, to learn how to go through the Bible, to know the who-is-who in the Scriptures and in the end of the year I was bursting of pride because they not only kne but enjoyed the act very much. Their bibles had that “used” look – so different from the beggining of the year – and it was a great feeling. They also started bringing them to the Mass and follow the readings through there. I started by saying that Bible is, in fact, a book like any other but the fullfilement brought would mean more than words.

    Sorry for the long testament…

    • That is so good to hear! It is amazing to see students getting excited about reading God’s word. I challenged the students to bring their Bibles with them to school. One of the students started doing so and his mom was more worried about how people would react at his school than he was. He ended up leading his friend to Christ and is now that friend’s go to guy and he is beginning discipleship in this kids life as a middle schooler! Amazing stuff!


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