Ask Rooted: What Are Some of Your Favorite Resources for Teaching the New Testament to Teenagers?

One of our great privileges as youth ministers is teaching the Bible to students, pointing them to the gospel of grace as we unpack Gods Word with them week by week. This pursuit requires that we be committed to lifelong Bible learning ourselves. So we asked some of our Rooted writers to share their favorite books and resources for teaching the New Testament.

As a further resource, we hope you’ll join us by registering here for a webinar on Wednesday, July 29 at 10:30 CST, Hopeful Perspective in Times of Crisis: How to Teach Paul’s Letters to Teenagers. Rooteds founding chairman, Cameron Cole will walk through the macro-storyline of Pauls writings, showing how we can teach them in our youth ministries to encourage teenagers. He will give special focus to Pauls eschatology, and how it can edify our students spiritual lives as well as our own. Time will be allotted for Q&A at the end of the call.

Kendal Conner, Groups Minister at Redeemer Fellowship in Kansas City, MO

With so many incredible resources available at our fingertips for teaching the New Testament, I know a temptation for me can be to jump too quickly to the work of others, and skim doing the deep work of the Word myself. So, before I list out my top books/resources for study, let me explain how I get to those resources. I will first read the text — plainly, repetitively, and prayerfully. Next, I will annotate the text, and note any questions I may still have. After that, I attempt to outline the text on my own. Finally, after Ive put in the work myself, I then turn to some of my favorite trusted resources for help answering questions and clarifying any of my misunderstandings. Two of my favorite places to go for this help are the ESV Study Bible and Logos Bible software.

I like to use resources I could easily recommend to my students, such as the Gods Word for You expository guide series. These books go verse-by-verse through the Biblical text. They are both theologically rich and easily accessible, making them great tools to place in our studentshands. I also really love The Bible Project, and use it as a resource both for my personal study and as a tool for my studentscomprehension. The Bible Project has taken all 66 books of the Bible and written an overview of each one, helping explain the main themes, literary elements and gospel narrative. The Bible Project is one of the best resources I have found to help train my students to see the metanarrative of Scripture, as each overview focuses not only on the content of that book, but on its connection to the redemptive storyline. I love to use their videos to introduce any book of the Bible we study.

Clark Fobes, Worship and College Pastor at Sunset Church in San Francisco, CA

When it comes to studying the New Testament, I have a few go-to commentary series. The newer Zondervan Exegetical Commentary Series, edited by Clint Arnold, is by far the most useful and accessible commentary Ive found for preparing to teach and preach to youth. While not every book has been completed yet, the commentaries outline each passage exegetically and homiletically, give traditional verse-by-verse notes, and offer application points for each passage at the end. Another helpful commentary, although a more difficult read, is Carson and Beales Commentary on the NT Use of the OT. The authors deal with every verse in the NT that cites or alludes to the OT, and give the OT context of the cited passages. Any student of the NT needs a robust background understanding of the OT to properly understand the minds of the Jewish authors, so Carson and Beales work is a must-have.

Most important to my study of the NT, however — even more than commentaries, in my opinion — are background studies of First Century Palestine and the Jewish way of reasoning. Three invaluable resources in gaining further understanding in these areas are K.C. Hansons Palestine in the Time of JesusNils Lund’s Chiasmus in the New Testament, and Jayson GeorgesMinistering in Honor-Shame CulturesWhile these resources can be more dense and meticulous to read, they provide much of the background necessary for understanding the context of the first century Jewish-Christian Church.

Finally, we must be aware of our cultural lens and how it influences our understanding of Scripure. Most of us in the West come from a Guilt-Innocence cultural paradigm that emphasizes the individuals adherence to laws and morality. However, the vast majority of the Bible was written by and for an honor-shame cultural audience. There are more and more resources on this topic surfacing in the last decade, but Jayson Georges explains the nuances to a Western audience, helping us understand the mind of the Eastern biblical authors. His shorter book, 3D Gospel, is a great introduction to the material, while this longer volume, Ministering in Honor-Shame Cultures is a more comprehensive look at the biblical and practical implications for ministry. Jackson Wus Reading Romans with Eastern Eyes is another valuable resource.

Skyler Flowers, Student Ministry Director at Orlando Grace Church in Orlando, FL

One of the easiest mistakes to make when teaching the Bible is to ask,”what does this text say to me?” before understanding what a specific text says to its original audience and how it says it. By extracting the biblical material from its context, we may miss major aspects of what God is seeking to teach us in a text. For this reason, one of my favorite resources for teaching the New Testament is A Biblical-Theological Introduction to the New Testament. Each chapter in this book takes up a separate book in the New Testament, introducing the reader to its historical context, overall structure, and place within God’s grand story that spans the entire Bible. Before preparing to teach through a book in the New Testament, I always spend time reading the chapter on it in this book. By shifting the focus solely from us, this book helps us to see Scripture with a deeper and broader vision. Then, when we turn to apply the text to our students’ lives or our own, we will do so with the full breadth of what this passage is trying to teach us.

Seth Stewart, Ten-Year Veteran Youth and Family Pastor, now Director of Content at Spoken Gospel

I almost always begin studying a New Testament book with three resources in hand: First, I consult DA Carsons New Testament Commentary Survey and order or borrow one of his most highly recommended commentaries. Second, I look to The Bible Speaks Today commentary series, edited by John Stott with many contributions from him. Someone once described Stotts insights like a tiny golden hammer. Once he hits a text with it, the book falls open into a clear structure that you cant un-see. And third, I watch The Bible Project’s overview videos a couple times. They do a great job of giving me a picture of how the entire book fits together and help me read an individual section in light of the whole.

Chelsea Kingston Erickson, Pastor of Youth and Families at First Congregational Church of Hamilton, MA

Part of the beauty of God’s Word to us is its vastness—we always have more to learn, more opportunities to grow in grace as the Spirit works in us to help us apply what we’re reading. The fact that we never “arrive” in terms of our biblical understanding and teaching keeps us on our toes as we seek to help students unpack God’s Word! One resource I love for preparing to teach is the CASKET EMPTY series from Drs. Carol Kaminski and David Palmer. CASKET is an acronym that breaks down the Old Testament into a six-period timeline, and EMPTY offers five periods for the New Testament. (Both are great background for New Testament studies because of the way they connect the whole metanarrative.) For both the Old Testament and the New, there is a “study guide” book that walks readers through the big-picture story line of the text, along with an accompanying timeline that shows how all the events fit together in history. If you do nothing else, purchase the timelines! I refer to them literally every time I teach.

We have also used this framework directly with our middle school students in Sunday School, working through a yearlong Old Testament survey followed by a yearlong New Testament survey, in which they learn the acronyms as they work through the text together. The timeline and the acronyms provide a sort of figurative container for students (and youth pastors!) to organize their growing understanding of biblical events. Many of our students can still remember the framework when they move up to our high school class, which helps orient them to the text as we continue to study the Word together.

Don’t forget to register to join us for our webinar on teaching Paul’s letters Thursday, August 13 at 10:30 CST.

Advancing Grace-Driven Youth Ministry

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