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Teens should take Bible study as seriously as school and sports practice.

I’m frequently asked what discipleship resources I recommend for teens. My answer is simple: Give them the Bible itself. Ask students to be students of the Scriptures.

When addressing biblical illiteracy among adults, Bible teachers must start by getting them to recall what it means to be a student and learn a subject in a structured way. Adults may not even associate a structured learning approach with being a disciple of Christ. For many, discipleship is almost wholly defined by doing—sharing the gospel, volunteering, giving, or going on a mission trip.

Teens, on the other hand, know exactly what it means to be a student. They fill the role in school five days a week. Yet we often communicate to this age group that their faith is a matter of feelings and impressions, of subjective observations or experiences, rather than of earnest study.

In Jesus’ day, the term “disciple” would have been inseparable from that of “learner” or “student.” Learning a rabbi’s teachings was foundational to doing what those teachings required. And that is still the case today. We are transformed into doers of the Word by first being hearers.

Today’s high schoolers learn physics and calculus and foreign languages. They are expected to annotate literature and draw critical conclusions about its meaning. They complete hours of homework. They seek tutoring when a subject is difficult. They work hard to learn because learning points to definable future outcomes. They are disciples of their teachers, learning with great discipline the various disciplines those teachers instruct.

By contrast, when these same students show up at church to be discipled in their faith, what will be asked of …

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