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Youth Blog: If I took the Bible too seriously I’d have no friends!

The Bible According to Gen Z | Adrian Blenkinsop

Friday 17 July 2015

In a new weekly youth blog, Bible Society Australia’s youth ministry leader Adrian Blenkinsop shares his learnings about how to engage youth with the Bible. 

If I took the Bible too seriously I’d have no friends!

This is one of the struggles that Kate has in trying to live “by what’s in the Bible”, and not alienating herself from her non-Christian friends. The fear of being seen – and judged ¬– as fundamental, out-of-touch and weird are very real for heaps of young people as they try to live as a Christian, and understand and make sense of the Bible.

Kate is a “typical” young Christian, and this short video tells her story. The video is designed to articulate some of the challenges faced by young Christians today. Kate identifies as a Christian, and goes to a youth group regularly and church occasionally. She goes to a Bible study as well – although for reasons other than studying the Bible. She knows all the “right” answers to all the questions, and her youth leaders would see her as one of the “gun” young Christians in the church.

Take a few minutes and watch the video, then think about which of Kate’s struggles you can identify from your own young people.

As you watch it, you’ll see Kate say the things she believes are the “right” responses, and the captions show what she’s thinking, and the struggles she’s encountering.

Do you have any “Kate’s” in your ministry? Those young Christians who struggle in the tension of having deep questions and struggles with her faith and knowing what to do with them? Actually, I reckon it’s not just an issue for young Christians. It’s something many of us struggle with at times. I’ve often shown this video in a church setting, and people in their 70s have come up to me and said “Actually, those aren’t issues that only young people have … I struggle with some of those things too.”

When I speak with young Christians, a common struggle is one presented in the video, where Kate and her peers are taught evolution in school, and it seems really compelling and scientific, and then she does a study on Genesis in youth group which completely dismisses everything she’s heard in school. It gets confusing, and raises questions for her like “Can I be a Christian and believe in evolution?” and “Where do the dinosaurs fit in?”

Build a culture of questions

Lots of research done into these issues suggests that young Christians need people around them (peers and older) who they can talk openly and honestly with about their struggles and questions. In fact this is one of the keys for young people not abandoning their faith in their late teens.

I like how Rob Bell responds to asking questions of God and faith in his book Love Wins, when he writes:

“Abraham does his best to bargain with God, most of the book of Job consists of arguments by Job and his friends about the deepest questions of human suffering, God is practically on trial in the book of Lamentations, and Jesus responds to almost every question he’s asked with…a question.”

Throughout scripture we get the picture that asking hard questions of God, and wrestling with the tension and challenges of following Christ, is actually a part of what it means to follow him. It’s, in fact, a “health indicator” of our faith.

If you’re like me and seem to have more questions than answers, that’s quite a relief to know. Let’s continue to encourage our young people to ask honest, hard questions, and avoid giving easy answers for fear that they might come to the “wrong” answer.

In what ways are you both encouraging and enabling your young people to ask tough, uncomfortable and awkward questions about God, faith and the Bible?

It could be something as simple as a “question box” where people can write a question anonymously, or send you a private message on social media. What’s important is to encourage a culture of questions, and actually celebrate those great questions when they are asked. It’s not so much about having the answer as it is to encourage the journey of discovery – trusting in the work of the Holy Spirit in the lives of your young people.

Adrian Blenkinsop is the National Youth Manager with Bible Society Australia. He’s passionate about seeing young people really dig into the Bible, and is working to make that happen through writing, speaking, and developing apps like Qbla. Find out more by checking out the resource hub for youth leaders here. He’d love to hear what’s working for you around engaging youth with the Bible. Contact him at: [email protected]

2 Responses to Youth Blog: If I took the Bible too seriously I’d have no friends!

  1. Jim van Ommen says:

    As for faith and friendships I just realized, I didn’t really come up with any answers.  When faith becomes more than just a believe system or an ideology;  when it becomes  a commitment that demands a response yes, that can for many become the parting of the ways. 
    We are following a Leader who is calling on us not to be conformed to this world but to be transformed by the renewing of our minds. We know what that means because we have responded to the Lord’s calling, but we cannot expect our friends to do likewise until by the grace God they do likewise and who knows, that may well be because of your witness and prayers for them.
    It is not the number of friends that is of importance,  it is the quality of their friendship. 
    A good verse to remember: “ A man of many companions may come to ruin, but there is a friend who sticks closer than a brother”,   Prov.18:24  

  2. Jim van Ommen says:

    Like most of you I could literally ask many, many questions about the Bible on issues that I don’t understand, but over the years I have become increasingly aware of the fact that faith and understanding are two different things. It is not necessary for me to understand things in order to believe and accept them in faith. There are heaps of things that are beyond my comprehension and in John chapter 16 verse 12, Jesus said something like; I have much more to tell you but at this point in time this would be too much for you to understand; words to that effect.

    My faith is in God, my heavenly Father who loves me and cares for me, who even allowed Jesus to die for my sins and the sins of the world in order that we will not die but have eternal life. That in itself is already beyond my comprehension and has all to do with the righteousness of God whose desire it is that we might all be forgiven for our sins and be reconciled to Him, through the shed blood of our Lord Jesus Christ. The whole of God’s plan for salvation is beyond my comprehension, but as little as I do understand I accept in faith and am grateful for beyond what words can express.

    An interesting illustration of how faith operates I have come across in recent years goes like this;

    What is the saving grace of a 5 year old not to get electrocuted? Is it his knowledge of electronics, or is it his faith and obedience to his dad, not to put those scissors into that power point? 
    What does this suggest to us in our relationship to our Heavenly Father with an infinitely greater knowledge gap and infinitely greater love.?

    Hence Jesus words; “Truly I tell you, unless you change and become like little children, you will never enter the kingdom of heaven. Yes, curiosity and disobedience can kill us in more ways than one. If you have concern for what you don’t understand ask God, who gives generously to all without finding fault, and it will be given to you, as it says in James Chapter 1 verse 5. God bless you!