Here are is an exhortation from David and Sally Michael from their conference message, “A Vision for Biblical Literacy in the Next Generation”:
Children need to learn how to rightly handle the Word through incremental age-appropriate instruction in studying Scripture through the use of inductive Bible study skills.
Exposure to the whole counsel of God is vital, but children must also be taught to rightly understand the Word. Our children and young people need the same prodding that Paul gave to his spiritual son:
Do your best to present yourself to God as one approved, a worker who has no need to be ashamed, rightly handling the word of truth.—2 Timothy 2:15
In a postmodern culture where it is acceptable to define your own truth, children must realize that truth is not “what a Bible verse means to me,” but rather that truth is found in discovering the author’s original intent interpreted in light of the whole message of the Bible, leading to the God-given meaning of the text. Therefore, we must guide the next generation to be students of the Word who have the necessary tools to interpret Scripture correctly, as Paul did for Timothy:
Think over what I say, for the Lord will give you understanding in everything.—2 Timothy 2:7
Start with simple questions about texts as children are young, and give them more tools as they mature. This is in direct opposition to what is happening in our culture as we move from a language-based system of learning to an image base.
It will be very difficult for children to become serious students of the Word if they are used to a steady diet of sound bite technology. Over exposure to sound bite technology will reap a crop of students who are incapable of serious, careful Bible study, who will not be equipped and competent for every good work.
We must impress on the next generation the discipline of Bible study—careful observation of the text; thoughtful, objective interpretation; and appropriate life-application—as well as the value of meditating on the Word “day and night” and memorizing Scripture.
Questions to Think About
- Are we careful to emphasize and use “the Book” in our teaching rather than media and “sound bite technology”?
- Do we have age-appropriate goals and measures in place for assessing our students Bible study skills?
- Does the curriculum we use encourage and help students to interact with the text?
- Are we providing our students with resources that will instruct them in proper Bible study skills?
- Are our teachers adequately trained in the use of inductive Bible study methods?