Many people thank God for their food, which they are about to eat, in their prayers before they eat their meal. However, I doubt many people thank God for an appetite to eat their food within their prayer. Our appetites are something that most people usually take for granted. However, without an appetite the idea of eating a meal loses it’s appeal.
The Bible is described as food throughout the New Testament. Jesus says in Matthew 4:4 that Man shall not live by bread alone, but by every word that comes from the mouth of God.” Beyond this, the writer of Hebrews states in chapter 5 that God’s Word is milk and solid food.
When talking about having an appetite, this question comes to mind: Do we pray asking God to give our students an appetite, or desire, to read the Bible? We know that it is easy to get discouraged when our students do not spend time investing in their relationship with God. However, maybe instead of being discouraged we should boldly ask God to stir an appetite in our students to consume His Word. This year, we should be praying that our students hear from God through reading, meditating, and studying the Bible.
Three Encouragements for Youth Workers:
1) We should not underestimate our students.
This reminder came when I was recently going to a Christian club that meets in the morning at a local public school. I told a student in my youth group that I was going to it which resulted in him informing me he no longer attends because they “don’t use the Bible.” This was an encouragement to me and a reminder how I often overlook the depth of students. We must not assume that our students are apathetic, but instead should make sure we listen to them in order to gauge where they are at in terms of Bible reading and literacy.
2) Give clear Bible reading plans for students.
Sometimes the reason our students do not read the Bible is because it is a big book with many difficult topics inside. It can seem like a huge mountain to climb alone if they don’t have any direction or assistance. Provide Bible reading plans and resources that can assist the students in Bible reading. One resource I have recently used is the book One to One Bible Reading by David Helm. This is a quick, easy to read, and helpful book that guides youth pastors like myself on the practice of empowering adult leaders in reading the Bible with students in our youth ministry.
This seems basic, but it is true and necessary. Many students can feel tempted to turn from Christ when reading the Bible because they do not understand something or feel like what the Bible teaches does not line up with reality or culture. These questions can lead to doubt, more questioning, and possibly unbelief. Our youth group environment should be one in which students are not afraid to ask difficult questions.
In conclusion, youth pastors such as myself must be reminded of the power of God’s Word in the lives of our students. It can be tempting at times to reinvent certain aspects of youth ministry. However, we must never evolve beyond God’s Word. It has, is, and will also be used by God in the lives of people. The Bible is the ultimate food that our students need to sustain them while they are teens and beyond. Why not pray for our students to have a growing appetite for what will benefit them both now and forever?
KYLE HOFFSMITH is the Pastor of High School Ministries at Old North Church in Canfield, Ohio. He is passionate about teaching students that true life is found in Jesus, breaking down generational barriers within the family of God, and equipping students to reach their schools with the Good News of Jesus. You can follow him on twitter @KYLE_HOFFSMITH.