10 ways to read the Bible with your youth group or Sunday School class

10 Ways to read the BibleTen ways to read the Bible with your class

Students must read the Bible in order to know what it says.  It’s often easier to read a passage to younger children who cannot read well, but when you are given the golden opportunity to teach the pre-teen and the teen class, here are a few suggestions to make their reading of the scriptures something they will remember.

1. Find the key verse

If you are studying a chapter or a story, ask the students to find a key verse, that is, a verse that best summarizes the theme.  This type of activity requires some time and thought since it requires a good understanding the entire passage.  Guide the student to their conclusions by the following steps: (1) first read the passage (2) discuss its main idea/ideas (3) ask they students to suggest possible candidates for key verse (4) let each student choose a verse and defend his point of view with a brief explanation.

For example, ask the students, “Romans 3, is a chapter that talks about the guilt of mankind.  Which verse best summarizes the fact that everyone has broken God’s law?  Some suggestions might be verse 9, 19 or 23.”

Extensions: Allow the students to create their own “framed text” using the key verse he/she chose.  Use crayons, markers, computer printer or whatever your favorite method is to create a text like we use in our homes.  Put the texts on the classroom bulletin board or even more impressively, mount their works in real wooden frames.  Assign to each student his chosen key verse for the following week’s memory verse.

2. Question Search

Some Bible passages have many questions in them on which the whole story hinges.  Ask the students to underline or copy the questions in a passage.

For example, Romans 6 has several bold questions such as “Shall we continue in sin?” “Shall we sin because we are not under law?”

Other example, underline all the questions in Genesis 3.  Who asks the questions?  Did he/she ask the question in order to receive information or were they questions to provoke thought?

Extension: Ask the students to make a chart of the questions and put it on the bulleting board to use as review for the next weeks.  The chart might be colorful, a banner or a face who is speaking his questions in cartoon bubbles.  Use your imagination.

3. Name Search

Sometimes simply remembering the names of a story helps the student remember what the story was about.  Some examples:

• In the book of Esther, circle the first time each person’s name is used.
• In John chapter 4:1-42 (woman at the well), circle the different names or descriptions of Jesus.  For example, verse 9, “thou, being a Jew” is an example of what Jesus was called.
• Psalm 119 has many different names for the Word of God.  How many can you find?  What difference does a name make when their meanings are so similar?
• How many different names are there for Jesus in Revelation chapter one?

Extensions: Create a poster as a class project.  After finding the list of names from the lesson, each student is given a different color marker and asked to write one of the names

4. Fill in the blanks

Copy (or type) a Bible passage into your word processor.  You can copy and paste the text from the Online Bible Search at www.gospelhall.org/bible .  Remove keywords from the passage and replace them with underline characters (Shift key plus minus sign).  Print a set of worksheets or display the result using PowerPoint.  The whole process takes less than 10 minutes

For example from John 3.   Notice that each blank line is numbered so that the teacher can refer to “answer number 8” easily.

There was a man of the (1) ________________, named (2)_____________ , a (3) ___________ of the Jews:
2 The same came to Jesus by night, and said unto him, (4) ______________, we know that thou art a (5)_____________ come from God: for no man can do these (6)______________ that thou doest, except God be with him.
3 Jesus answered and said unto him, Verily, verily, I say unto thee, Except a man be (7) _______________________, he cannot see the (8) _____________ of God.
4 Nicodemus saith unto him, How can a man be (9) ______________ when he is (10) ____________? …

5. Proof Reader

Similar to the fill in the blank method mentioned above, copy a bible passage and intentionally create mistakes by substituting words that change the meaning.  Ask students to correct the passage by first reading the passage in their Bible and then correcting the mistakes printed on their worksheet.

For example, the following words from Isaiah 53 have many errors.  Type with double spaces to allow room for the student to write his/her corrections.  (Technical note: In Microsoft Word, you can choose double spacing for a paragraph by clicking Format > Paragraph, selecting “double” for the line spacing option.)

1 Who hath rejected our report? and to whom is the face of the LORD hidden?
2 For he shall go away before him as a wandering lamb, and as a root out of a watered field: he hath no idea nor intelligence; and when they shall see him, there is no reason that we should follow him.
If making corrections to the incorrect version is too difficult for a student to complete, provide a multiple choice correction method in the following manner:

1 Who hath [1] (believed / rejected / purchased ) our report? and to whom is the [2] (face / arm / voice) of the LORD [3] (revealed / hidden / heard)?
2 For he shall [4] (go away / purchase / grow up) before him as a [5] (tender plant / wandering lamb / strong tower), and as a root out of a [6] (watered field / sheep fold / dry ground): he hath no [7]  (form / idea / money) nor [8] (intelligence / comeliness / ugliness) ; and when [9] (we / they / he) shall see him, there is no reason that we should [10] (follow / listen to / desire) him.

6. Story Board

Create a series of pictures with captions that re-tell a Bible story.  Ask the students to decide what the pictures will be rather than telling them what to draw.  You’ll see more creativity and better understanding.  They will have to think for more than a few seconds to come up with their idea.  Re-telling a story with pictures utilizes several learning strategies.  First a student must read and comprehend the written word.  Second, he must select the most important details.  Third, he must illustrate the meaning.  Remember the point of the activity is not to create beautiful drawings.  Rather, the point is to create a lasting impression in your student’s memory of what the Bible says.

For example, in the story of Sampson, ask each student to draw a picture from an assigned chapter of the Bible.  Sampson’s life is told in four chapters in Judges 13, 14, 15 and 16.  When finished, you will have four captioned pictures to put on the bulletin board.  For more involvement, ask for more than one picture from each chapter.  For example, three students in a group would draw three pictures illustrating the announcement of the birth of Samuel from Judges 13.

Extension:  Bind the finished pictures into a book or display them on the wall in sequence.

7. Remove the Spaces

For a short passage, use your computer to remove all spaces from a passage.  Print the worksheets.  Ask students to draw a diagonal line dividing each word.

AnditcametopassafterthesethingsthatGoddidtempt
AbrahamandsaiduntohimAbraham:andhesaid
BeholdhereIamAndhesaidTakenowthysonthineonlyson
IsaacwhomthoulovestandgettheeintothelandofMoriah;
andofferhimthereforaburntoffering
upononeofthemountainswhichIwilltelltheeof

How-to details for Microsoft Word:
1) Copy the text of a chapter from www.gospelhall.org/bible into a Word document.
2) Select the menu Edit > Replace.
3) In the “Find What” field, type a single space.
4) In the “Replace With” field, do not type anything.
5) Click the “Replace All” button.  All spaces will be replaced.
6) Repeat the previous steps to remove commas and periods.

Notice in the example above, the words are printed in a larger font to allow easier writing for the students.

8. Station Questions

You can vary the routine of answering questions about a passage, by creating various stations around the classroom.  Fold a piece of paper in half with the top fold covering a single question inside.  Tape the papers to various places in the room.  Number each station.  Getting students out of their chairs breaks the routine.  Review the answers once students are back in their seats.

9. The version according to me

In the spirit of a Bible paraphrase, ask the students to re-word a passage using their own language.  The students read the “version according to me” to the class.

For example, 1 Corinthians 1
18 Because explaining the death of Christ sounds like nonsense to people who are not saved – those people on their way to hell.  But those who understand it, the cross gives them assurance of eternal life.
19 The Old Testament says, “God is wiser than the wisest man, the ideas of this world will end in nothing”…

Caution!  The goal of the activity is not to make fun of Bible words or say things irreverently, but to clarify the understanding.

10. Power Point

One way to vary Bible reading is to display the verses with a computer and projector.  Display short portions of the reading on each slide.  This method helps students who find it difficult to locate passages on their own.  It also helps keeps the class together.  Additionally, it breaks the routine so that this week’s Bible reading class is not exactly the same as what you did last week.

Check for Comprehension

The goal of all Bible reading should be to understand what God says.  The most basic method of Bible reading should include a list of questions to check for understanding. 

Every time you read a passage with your class, you should check for their understanding of what they read.  Create a list of written questions that the students answer either with pencil and paper or as a group discussion.  For example a Bible reading from Romans 1:16-32 should include some basic questions such as: What is God’s wrath revealed against? In verse 19-21, what can be known about God from creation?  What do men choose to worship instead of God?  Use these questions to start a discussion.

Advice for the teacher

The worst bible reading method you can choose from this list is the one you use all the time. Vary your approach every week.  Some types of Bible chapters work better with certain methods.  Even if one of the activities below takes away from your “teaching time”, that is, the time you get to talk, it might be a good learning time for the students since they are hearing the Word of God direct from the Source.

The “extension” ideas above provide not only an idea for a simple project that can be displayed in the classroom, it t is a perfect way to review the material in the following weeks. 

Conclusion

Remember, that the precious few years you have with teens and preteens are their formative years of understanding what the Bible says.  In order to know what it says, they need to read it.  The best method of teaching is variety.  Keep your students interest by providing a different approach to studying the scripture every week.  Do you have other suggestions for what works for you?  Write me in the suggestion box below.