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Tourists and treasure hunters
Youth leader, your students can never cherish what they do not know. Train young people to love the Word of God and seek it out like treasure.
Youth leader, your students can never cherish what they do not know. One of the highest priorities for anyone who leads students is to equip and encourage their young people to love the Word of God.
Few would argue the importance that the next generation be biblically literate. But how do we encourage students to not only know, but also enjoy their Bibles? It starts with how you approach it. In my experience, the reason so many young people in the church experience so little joy in Scripture is because they approach it like a tourist instead of treasure hunter.
Here lies our motivation for opening our Bibles: to deepen our joy!
A tourist will browse, but a treasure hunter will dig. A tourist will wander, but a treasure hunter will seek. A tourist finds memories, but a treasure hunter finds riches. A tourist usually ends up lost because they are unfamiliar with the landscape; a treasure hunter has a plan that keeps them on track.
Though both types of people are looking for something, the fundamental difference between a tourist and a treasure hunter lies in the intensity of their desire.
The following are three big, simple ideas I have used when teaching students to help young people both know and enjoy the Word of God.
1. ‘Use a map’
Drifting off-course is never done intentionally—drifting is the natural by-product of not being intentional. As the old adage goes, “Failing to plan is planning to fail.” When I was younger, I would (like many) open my Bible to a random page and hope for the best. Unfortunately I kept landing on passages of God killing people, so I decided to stop playing “Bible roulette.”
A good Bible reading plan is like a good map: it provides us with direction, which then keeps us on track. There are literally hundreds of different reading plans that sites like YouVersion have made available (free of charge), which can also be downloaded as an app on most smart-phones.
One important point to remember here: the reading plan is your servant, not your master. If you miss a day, just pick up wherever you left off. Your righteousness is not in the consistency of your reading, but in the Christ you read about.
2. ‘Dig deep’
When reading the Bible, how much you understand is far more important than how much ground you cover. It is far better for you to read one chapter and understand one verse, than to 10 chapters and understand none of them. Mark down two or three of the richest verses and dig deep. Take your time as you read and re-read these verses. Pray over them. Meditate on them. Imagine you’re eating a $100 steak—chew it slowly and soak up every bit of flavor.
Tools like the REAP study method (Read, Examine, Apply, Pray) can really help cultivate intentionality so you can dig deeper than a surface-level reading.
Yes, sometimes reading the Bible is hard. In fact, the Scriptures even say that about themselves! But the treasures gained far surpass the effort spent. In the same way that precious diamonds are rarely discovered aboveground, so too are the most beautiful gems of Scripture buried a little deeper than a rushed, surface-reading-on-your-way-out-the-door would allow us to discover. Spurgeon encourages us, “Make thorough search; for as in a king’s treasure that which is the most closely locked up and the hardest to come at is the choicest jewel of the treasure, so is it with the Holy Scriptures.”
3. ‘Read for intimacy, not just for information’
Youth pastor, this word is for you, too. If you’re only reading to get a sermon or a tweet, you’ve missed the point (and the joy) of opening the Bible. The great error of the Pharisees was they saw God as an ideal to strive toward instead of a person to be enjoyed.
Remind your students (and yourself) that they are not checking a box or completing a moral duty, as if God were an angry middle school teacher demanding their homework. These are the living, breathing, life-giving words of our Creator who makes known to us the path of life, who captures us into the joy of his presence through Christ, and who alone satisfies the deepest affections of our hearts (Ps. 16:11). This is why in Psalm 119:162 the writer exclaims: “I rejoice at your word like one who finds great spoil!” Here lies our motivation for opening our Bibles: not to fulfill our duty, but to deepen our joy!
Come to the Bible like a tourist, and you’ll come away with a few vague memories. But come to the Bible like a treasure hunter, and you’ll find riches worth more than 10,000 worlds.