The Bible Literacy of Teenage Believers


Oct 12 2012

The Biblical Literacy of Teenage Believers [Excerpts]

Youth ministry researcher Chap Clark says, “I’m convinced that the single most important area where we’ve lost ground with kids is in our commitment and ability to ground them in God’s Word.”

As a result, Barry Shafer says, “The church today, including both the adult and teenage generations, is in an era of rampant biblical illiteracy.” Duffy Robbins takes this one step further when he says: “Our young people have become incapable of theological thinking because they don’t have any theology to think about. … And, as Paul warns us, this … leaves us as ‘infants, tossed back and forth by the waves, and blown here and there by every wind of teaching’ (Ephesians:4:14).”

At the conclusion of the National Study of Youth and Religion, lead researcher Christian Smith reported: “Even though most teens are very positive about religion and say it’s a good thing, the vast majority are incredibly inarticulate about religion. … It doesn’t seem to us that many teens are being very well-educated in their faith traditions.”

To illustrate his point, Smith refers to teenagers in the study from conservative Protestant churches. “About half of their teens say that many religions may be true; more than one-third say it is okay to practice multiple religions; more than one-third believe people should not try to evangelize others; more than one-third say it is okay to pick and choose one’s religious beliefs and not accept the teachings of one’s faith as a whole, and nearly two-thirds say a person can be truly religious and spiritual without being involved in a church.”

Summarizing the entire study, Smith reports, “The net result … is that most religious teenagers’ opinions and views—one can hardly call them worldviews—are vague, limited, and often quite at variance with the actual teachings of their own religion.”

Duffy Robbins considers possible causes when he says: “The church in general, and youth ministry in particular, has demonstrated more of an appetite for goose bumps than for God’s truth, more interest in how our young people feel than how they think. … But where are Christian teenagers learning basic tenets of the Christian faith? And if they don’t understand those basic truths or doctrines … then how does that impact their long-term faith? I’m concerned that too much of our teaching is reduced to what can … be communicated by a worship band illuminated by stage lighting and well-placed candles.”

Here is some good news. Churches that tend to produce teenagers who can articulate their faith do exist. The Study of Exemplary Congregations in Youth Ministry identified characteristics shared by 21 churches that perennially are effective in youth ministry. Even across seven denominations, one shared characteristic that rose to the top was: “Bible study and biblical literacy are extensive and substantive.”

http://blogs.christianpost.com/guest-views/the-biblical-literacy-of-teenage-believers-11909/