How Parents Can Help Teenagers Study Their Bibles

study bible

As a young mom embroiled in the power struggle that was potty training my first child, I appealed to our pediatrician, who wisely told me: “You will never make him eat, sleep, or poop on demand. You may win in the short term, but parents always lose power struggles with their kids.”

I have found those words to be tough but true. A parent has to wonder how can we help our kids want to do the things that are good for them. A recent study provides a hopeful hint for how Christian parents can encourage their kids to do something we deeply desire for them to do: read their Bibles.

Barna Group has released a new global study called “The Open Generation” about the state of Generation Z’s faith, and they’re sharing the results in a series of live webinars. The first two events have passed but are available to view on demand. The third event takes place this Wednesday, October 19 at 1:00 CST, and you can register to attend for free.

As a mom, one of many fascinating stats in this study caught my eye: teenagers who are engaged with the Bible have had an average of four adults teach and model how to study it.

Several takeaways come to mind:

  1. Most kids have two parents. Halfway there! For those kids who, like mine, only have one parent, we work a little harder to find those adults who will train them how to read and study rightly, but those adults are definitely worth seeking out.
  2. Most parents are not trained to teach the Bible. No matter; you have a Bible and you have the Holy Spirit. In my experience, reading the Bible is an acquired taste but it also brings us into relationship with the most winsome, wonderful Savior. The more mom and dad love reading their Bibles, the more likely their children will want to know what compels our attention to those thin, rustling pages.
  3. There are some really great resources out there for parents who want training in how to read the Bible. To name a few: How to Read the Bible For All Its Worth by Doug Stuart and Gordon Fee; Exploring My Strange Bible with Tim Mackie (podcast by the founder of the Bible Project); Help Me Teach the Bible (podcast with Nancy Guthrie).
  4. If we take our kids to church weekly and prioritize relationships with their youth pastors, Sunday school teachers, and volunteers, they will likely end up studying the Bible with multiple adults besides their parents. Even just the four years of high school could add up to four different small group leaders. Yes, some are better teachers than others, and some years getting your kids engaged might be a real struggle. Stay consistent and be persistent in both attendance and relationship-building; God will grant the fruit in his time and in his way.
  5. Parachurch ministries can be wonderful supplements to church involvement, and these often have the added benefit of drawing your children into fellowship with students who worship with other denominations. Here kids might also have the opportunity to study their Bibles alongside their classmates from school, or they might meet teenagers from other schools or parts of town, diversifying their friendships and expanding their understanding of God’s family.
  6. Host a Bible study in your own home. You don’t have to teach (unless God has called you to!) but you can provide the space and the snacks. Invite a young adult you know, maybe a local seminary student or a friend’s adult child who has a passion to teach teenagers God’s Word. Alternatively, you could invite an empty nester or an elderly saint who is eager to share their passion for Bible study.

It goes without saying that parents should pray and vet all resources, ministries, and adults that they invite to partner with them in discipling their children. We want to be certain that whoever trains our teenager to read and study has a high view of Scripture and believes it to be “God- breathed” (2 Tim. 3:16). And of course, there’s nothing magic about the number four when it comes to Bible teachers. It is the Holy Spirit whose work renders God’s Word “living and active” in the hearts of our children (Heb. 4:12).  But oh, what a privilege and a joy to share the Word of life with our teenagers!

Anna is a single mom of three young adult sons. She is the Senior Director of Content at Rooted, co-host of the Rooted Parent podcast, a member of Church of the Cross in Birmingham, AL, and the author of God's Grace for Every Family: Biblical Encouragement for Single Parent Families and the Churches That Seek to Love Them Well (Zondervan, 2024). She also wrote Fresh Faith: Topical Devotions and Scripture-Based Prayers for College Students. In her free time, Anna enjoys gardening, great books, running, hiking, hammocks, and ice cream. She wants to live by a mountain stream in Idaho someday.

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