Youth: Try the Parent-Teen Summer Scripture challenge

May 23, 2017

As the school year draws to a close, and many weekly religious education programs end for the summer, youth may think they are on a break from algebra, English and learning about their faith. But catechesis is a lifelong process and doesn’t really know a calendar.

So this summer as you begin to look at your teen’s summer schedule, why not try something new. Why not take some time to read and discuss Scripture together, yes Scripture! When our children are young, we are encouraged to read to them Bible abbreviated stories with elaborate pictures to spark their interest.

By the time they get to junior high, we often feel that they can now do it on their own, they don’t need mom or dad or grandparents reading to them. But that’s not quite true.

Youth and even adults still enjoy people reading to them. Audio books are more popular than ever as teens and adults like to take the time to listen and follow along while reading. And when it comes to the Bible, people of all ages are often intimidated to open it. The common fear is that they don’t know where to start when it comes to the Bible. They get overwhelmed or afraid they won’t understand.

Some don’t want to read it because they don’t believe it applies to today’s life. They think its ancient history. But Scripture can bring us closer to understanding God and His love for us. It is not just words and stories to read; it provides for us a blueprint to help us in our journey to discipleship and lessons on how to live our lives today.

From Church documents like the Second Vatican Ecumenical Council Gravissimum Educationis, and St. John Paul II’s Familiaris Consortio, to speeches from Pope Benedict XVI and Pope Francis; the Church reminds us that as parents we are the primary educators and catechist for our children.

We are to help instruct them in the faith along with our bishops, priests, deacons, youth ministry and DRE leaders. Younger and older adolescents want ways to interact with their parents.

Scripture can provide the perfect starting point. Sharing Scripture allows us to hear others perspectives while sharing our own. It allows us to explore our faith and evangelize with someone else. What a wonderful bond to be able to share your faith with your teen. Let’s look at a few ways you and your teen could begin this summer project.

Where do I start?

Good question, there are many ways you can begin your study. You can start with the liturgical readings (daily and Sunday Readings) which can be found on the USCCB website following the liturgical year.

Maybe you want to start with one of the Gospels, which tend to be a great place to start until you have completed it and then move on to another book of the Bible.

You could also ask your teen what topics they want to discuss and find passages in the Scriptures that cover that topic or theme. Specific topics and themes can be found in the concordance section or glossary in the back of your Bible or you can also find topics online.

How do I start?

Pick up the Bible and read. There are Bible studies programs available for youth and families, Lectio Divina guides and great concordances, as well as the footnotes that can assist you in this process. Your pastor, youth ministry leader and DRE may also have some ideas and suggestions for you.

If you don’t know the answer, don’t be afraid to tell your teen and take the opportunity to find out the answer together. The main key is to be able to read, reflect, pray and discuss what that passage means to each of you and how it can be applied to your daily lives.

Don’t be afraid to use multimedia sources. There are a lot of YouTube videos, webinars and podcasts that you can use to help bring variety of information and reflections to your Scripture reading.

What about time commitment?

You will need to set aside time each day or once a week to sit down and “break open” the Word with reading, discussion and prayer. I know we all have busy schedules, so start off small. Your Scripture time could be in the car before you drop your youth off at soccer practice or dance.

You could also take the time after dinner, before bed or set aside a special time on Sunday evenings. The key factor is you need to set the time aside without electronics distracting you. Make it a special treat going to the coffee shop or getting ice cream where the distractions from home won’t tempt you away from the study.

So this summer try the “Scripture Reading Challenge” with your teen. Make a three-month commitment (June to August) and see how it goes. If you would like more tips about the importance of reading Scripture go to the USCCB website at http://usccb.org/bible.

There is a wonderful article on the website by Mary Elizabeth Sperry on Understanding the Bible that will help get you started.

You can also explore many of the Catholic publishers sites for teens. St. Mary’s Press has the Catholic Youth Bible which also has some great resources along with Our Sunday Visitor, Loyola Press and Life Teen just to name a few.

Just make sure before using sites on the web that they are not in contradiction with our Catholic Teaching. If you’re not sure, ask your pastor or parish catechetical leaders. 

Randy Adams is an associate director with the Archdiocesan Office of Adolescent Catechesis and Evangelization.