WHY “CHUNKING” THE BIBLE CAN MAKE IT MORE DIFFICULT TO COMPREHENDThe biggest reason students don’t read their Bibles as much as we’d like isn’t because they are too busy or because they don’t take their faith seriously. It’s because after three or four days of reading something that they do not understand, they get frustrated and give up. Go ahead. Turn to a random chapter in Leviticus or Revelation or Acts and read it. By itself, without context and without the gift of your prior knowledge, it probably wouldn’t make any sense. If someone decided to start reading Harry Potter in the third chapter of the fourth book, that would be a curious decision, yet that’s how many of our students experience Scripture. There are stories and arcs in the Bible that necessarily build off of one another. You and I are armed with the experience and knowledge to understand where a particular chapter is coming from and where it’s going. In that context, it makes sense. Most of our students don’t have that context yet.
WHY “CHUNKING” SCRIPTURE CAN MAKE IT LOSE ITS MEANINGOur students have been indoctrinated by sermons and devotional books that largely unpack the meaning of a verse or a handful of verses. There’s nothing wrong with that, of course. I do it too. But when students get used to exclusively unpacking the meaning of individual verses, they miss something else that’s just as important. They miss the meaning of the larger story.
A DIFFERENT WAY FOR STUDENTS TO READ SCRIPTUREFeel free to challenge students to read a Psalm a day. Even if they miss a few days a month, they should be able to do that twice a year. But when it comes time to read the actual stories of the Bible or the letters of the New Testament, I’d encourage you to try something new and different. Ask them to read larger chunks of the Bible in one sitting. Many of my students would tell you that it’s easier to find one 20-minute block to read through the book of James than it is to find five six-minute windows when they can give their full attention. It’s also probably a more effective way to increase a teenager’s understanding and comprehension. At the very least, it’s worth a shot. Is this something you’re going to try? Leave a comment and let me know.
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