Teens like new stuff. The newest phone, the newest games, the newest music. They consider anything ‘old’ to be less than exciting, less than fun, slow, and not for them.
So how do you teach from the “Old” Testament?
Here are some ideas.
- Call it the Hebrew Scriptures. Actually when written, they were the only scriptures for the people of God. They were current once, so the name Old testament is just the new name for the old book. Someone decided to give it the name Old Testament only because they wanted to call the new stuff the New Testament. Get it? And really, even the New Testament is pretty old. The Hebrew Scriptures take on new meaning in light of Jesus and the events of the New Testament, which makes them pretty interesting. For example notice how Jesus quotes Isaiah in his first sermon.
- It’s all about people. It’s all about people and how they understood and related to God. It is significant that when these stories were collected, the bad, the embarrassing, the violent, the stupid were all included right alongside the miraculous, the courageous, the noble, the adventurous, and the faithful. That’s what makes a great story. The good, the bad, and the ugly. The Bible does not whitewash the story, especially in the OT.
- Sample the Psalms. Right in the middle of most Bibles, the psalms are like a favorite poem tucked between the pages of a journal. Right there in the middle of a long, painful, violent history of becoming a nation, the poetry of the Psalms expresses the gamut of human emotion. You can read psalms of despair and suffering, psalms of praise and thanksgiving, psalms of jealousy and vengeful thoughts. What new book has all that?
- Every old guy in the Old Testament was a teenager once. Some of them even became king when they were teenagers, or just children. Get your students to imagine what they might bring to a kingdom if suddenly given the throne.
- People are still people. The stories in the OT are all driven by basic human needs and desires. It’s not that hard to see why people did what they did back then, because we can see ourselves doing the same things. Try to show your teens elements of their own personalities in the people with the strange names. Moses was afraid of public speaking. David was short and worked with sheep. Naomi nearly succombed to depression. Boaz and Ruth were looking for love.
- God is still God. God is the same yesterday, today and tomorrow. So if you want to understand God, and relate to him, the OT is as good a book as any. The hard part is grasping some of the historical context that was the modern culture of the time. But God showed grace to the faithful long before Jesus walked the earth.
- Creation is the beginning of everything. Kids who are creative want to know where creativity comes from. Show them Genesis 1. God created and he made us creative.
Wow. Thank God someone didn’t throw out the Old Testament long ago.