I’ve read two articles lately on the topic of teenagers and the Bible. Both articles focus on research done by the Barna Group1 and the American Bible Society2.

The Findings

The 2016 Teen State of the Bible report found:

  • 86 percent of American teens view the Bible as sacred literature,
  • 69 percent own a Bible
  • 25% read the Bible four or more times per week
  • 42 percent hear it read at least once a week

However, 14% say that their Bible reading has declined in the last year. The number one reason they have not read the Bible as much this year as last year—they are too busy for life’s responsibilities (41%).

Choked by the Cares of This World

Isn’t that how it happens? Life’s responsibilities slowly take the place of our time in the Word of God? Jesus warned of this in the parable of the sower. He explains it this way in Matthew 4:18-19,

“And others are the ones sown among thorns. They are those who hear the word, but the cares of the world and the deceitfulness of riches and the desires for other things enter in and choke the word, and it proves unfruitful.”

One time I heard Billy Beacham give a talk to youth workers about prioritizing things in life. He had a basket that he started filling up with all kinds of things that represented responsibilities in life. One of the items he put in was a little Bible, which represented our personal time with God. As the basket filled up, he warned us about taking the Bible out (or letting it fall out) of the basket of life. He said that of all the things we take out, we should be sure to keep our time with God as a sacred time. He was advising us to not let the cares of this world choke the Word so it would prove unfruitful.

We are living in a time where it is easy to get distracted by the desires for other things and the cares of the world. Our family experiences this temptation all the time. This fall, our family has kids at two different schools, two of our three children are playing sports, all of them are active in extra-curricular activities, both parents busy with work, with me working on my doctorate. There is just so much to do. Some days there is so much running around to do that I don’t know where I’m supposed to be. Good thing Janell keeps me straight! The basket is full!

It’s easy to let the Bible fall out of our basket, both in our personal lives and in our families.

Family Priorities

Most of the things we do as a family are important things. Sports teach kids teamwork. School is important for learning and thinking. Work is necessary. Ministry is a gift from God. Unfortunately, as Henry Frederick Cope says, “We tend to set the making of a living before the making of lives.”

My prayer for me and my children is that we will not allow “life’s responsibilities” to get in the way of time with God. I pray that somehow we can instill in our children a deep desire to know the truths of God’s Word, despite what other urgent things they may have to do, so that they may build lives based on a biblical worldview. I pray they will prioritize their own spiritual lives and allow everything else to fall into place.

1. 10 Findings on Teens and the Bible

2. Teens Struggle to Find Time for the Bible