Biblical illiteracy is an increasing trend. It should be alarming to you as a student pastor. As a student pastor it’s alarming to me. Too many students are graduating from our ministries with the Bible still feeling awkward in their hands. In Colossians 3:16 Paul encourages the believers to “let the word dwell richly in them.” The wording is key here and gives the picture of being “at home” in God’s word to an abundant level. A convicting question for all of us is: do our students feel at home in God’s word?
I realize that the answer to biblical illiteracy isn’t solved just through student ministry. I’m sure we would agree that parents play a primary role in biblically training their children. However, this doesn’t remove or lessen the importance of student ministry’s role in attacking the issue. We must still do our part to lead students to God’s word. It is the place where they will meet Jesus, not just for salvation but also for the rest of their lives. It is where they will experience transformation. It is where they will fall in love with Jesus. In student ministry we can lead students to many things, but only one of them will have a lasting impact: God’s Word. Here are some needs to consider as we begin to lead students to God’s word:
Students need to learn to study the Bible for themselves. This truly is one of the greatest gifts that we could give students in our ministries. Often, we are too soon to spoon-feed students answers instead of guiding them through wrestling with the scripture and really seeking what God is saying.
Students need to understand how to study the text in its’ context and how to relate that to their context today. The Bible really does speak to issues that students deal with today. You and I believe that, but do our students? Some do because we tell them. Many don’t because they haven’t experienced it themselves. As students learn to make these connections it will equip them to study the Bible more effectively without you, and there is coming a day quickly when they will need to study the Bible without you. Are they ready?
Students need to understand the overarching story of the Bible: God’s plan, through Jesus, to redeem His people. As students begin to see God’s great plan unfold it expands their view of Him, which grows their love for Him. When students love Him, it drives them back to His word, and they are in the process of being transformed. You have seen it happen before and it is an amazing process to watch. We need to see it more often.
Biblical illiteracy is an issue that we can’t ignore. There are some great things that student ministry has done over the years, but this is an area where we need to see some improvement. I need to improve in my own ministry. Will you join me?
If you are looking for a Bible study that will help you equip students to learn to study God’s word for themselves I want to encourage you to check out the new Explore the Bible: Students. It was developed alongside groups of student pastors for that very purpose: helping students to learn how to study the Bible for themselves so that the word dwells richly in them.
Ben Trueblood serves as the Director of Student Ministry for Lifeway Christian Resources and has served the local church as a student pastor for thirteen years.