I received a text message from a colleague in ministry regarding judging the amount of Biblical support and relevance provided in a particular curriculum. They were concerned about the reviews of this curriculum discussing its “lack of Bible” and Biblical shallowness that doesn’t seemingly answer life’s tough questions. Let me say here that I love the Bible, I believe the Bible is God’s inerrant word and is the most important document we can use to teach our young people about the redemptive work of God through Jesus Christ in our lives and the world. The Bible is a tool to help us understand the love of God and His relationship with humanity throughout the ages of the world. With that said, how we use it becomes critical in helping the next generation build authentic faith.
What would happen if our next gen ministries read the Bible prioritizing the God behind the story? What if the Bible was used as a tool to help us learn and understand God’s love for us shown in His activity with and through us? How might the God behind the Bible make the Bible real for their lives now? As we look towards 2017, it is essential that we design children and youth ministry that focuses on the God of the Bible and the relevance of the Bible.
The Bible only matters in so much as the God behind the Bible matters. I have often heard people say “even Satan knows the Bible.” While this saying might be trite, there is a considerable amount of depth in it. Satan knows the Bible but his faith is not in the God of the Bible. We want the next generation to have faith in the God of the Bible. Faith is born out of a knowledge of and dependence on the love of God. The love of God that is so real to us that we believe in the God from which it originates. Then we read the Bible because we believe in the God behind the Bible.
Our relationship with God makes the Bible, God’s word, matter in our daily lives. Our relationship with God makes us care about what the Bible says. When we disciple a generation to love God because God first loved them the Bible becomes more than a collection of stories. The Bible becomes a way to get to know God better and how His story connects with their story to give them a great life. We want God to matter! Then the tools of the Bible, prayer, worship, and church will be something they gladly do because it connects them to Him.
The Bible only matters in so much as they can use it now! The Bible has to make sense and what we teach from the Bible on Sunday has to be something they can use on Monday. While everything in the Bible matters, it is important that we focus on what matters now! And “what matters” is an idea that is relative to experience. In other words, the Bible “really only matters if is matters. Actually, it really only matters if it matters to them.”
What matters for a three-year-old changes for a twelve-year-old and again for a sixteen-year-old. During those phases, our children and youth are dealing with real issues that must be addressed within our two-hour teaching time on Sunday morning. We have to be intentional about saying what matters. What we are teaching from the Bible has to have future impact and immediate relevance. It has to benefit them today! The more we can stick to passages that address their immediate needs and questions, the more they will use it and see the value in it. We want them to know the Bible is full of life for them now not passages to memorize for later.
We want our children and youth to love God. We want them to have a relationship with God right now. We want them to build their hope in God through Jesus Christ. And we want them to use the Bible to understand how the love of God and faith in Christ works! Let’s teach like that! Let’s select curriculum that helps us do that! Let’s plan events like that! And watch them experience a real God that brings the words of the Bible to life in the lives.
 Joiner, Reggie. 2016. "A New Kind of Leader." 75. Cumming: reThink Group.