By Crystal Kirgiss (West Lafayette, IN)
WyldLife Leader and Regional Trainer
After 30 years of leading small groups – middle school, high school, college – I’m often asked for Bible Study/Campaigner resource recommendations.
My answer has always been the same:
Read the Bible with your kids. Period.
That’s not to say that you shouldn’t read other things. You absolutely should: commentaries, Bible studies, Study Bibles, study guides – read as much as you can about whatever book or passage of the Bible you’ll be going through.
But for the small group itself, read and study the Bible together. Period.
This is not beyond WyldLife kids. They can absolutely do this. And if we don’t start reading the Bible with them now, when exactly do we think this vital, necessary, life-sustaining and faith-forming discipline will and should begin?
We’ll continue to post specific tips on leading Campaigners with WyldLife kids. For now, here are a few ideas to get you started.
- After choosing what passage you’ll be reading and studying together, create a Word/Pages/PDF document and print it off for each person in your group. I either type it up by hand (which gives me another chance to focus on the words) or copy and paste it from Bible Gateway or Blue Letter Bible. (Be sure to remove any footnotes or endnotes.) Use at least 12-point font. Go as large as 16-point if space allows. Triple space throughout so that you have plenty of space for writing and marking. (I prefer and strongly recommend using the New Living Translation.)
- Near the beginning of your Campaigner time, have someone read the entire passage/story out loud. Have everyone else just listen and not follow along with the text. When we turn off one sense (eyes), another sense intensifies (listening).
- Have everyone be part of reading through the text, either verse by verse or paragraph by paragraph.
- Choose one especially meaningful or important sentence or verse and have students copy it out word for word in a journal or on blank paper. HAVE LOTS OF MARKERS/COLORED PENS/SHARPIES/COLORED PENCILS/ETC. AVAILABLE.
- Have them draw/decorate/design a verse. If someone balks at this (“I can’t draw!”), present it differently. Call it doodling. Call it tattoo-designing. Doesn’t matter. Just move from mere words to also include visual elements.
- Create a set of icons (or emojis) that represent the basic truths of the Gospel – a symbol for Jesus, God, love, the cross, sin, forgiveness, friendship, obedience, trust, joy, etc. Some will be obviously simple (heart, cross, smiley face, “x”) while others will require your kids to think creatively. Mark the margins with these emojis/icons as you read.
- Ask any and every possible question you can think of, so regarding the story of Zacchaeus: Where was Jericho? What was a chief tax collector? How did he get rich? Why did he want to see Jesus? What did Jesus say to him? What didn’t Jesus say to him? What is like to be called a “notorious sinner” by everyone else? Etc.
- Help students start to identify different layers of information and truth in the passage. Do this by asking them to hunt for specific things, for example:
Circle all the descriptions of God or Jesus.
Underline all the things Jesus tells us to do or believe.
Put a square around all the different emotions people expressed.
Put a squiggly line under all the things Jesus tells us not to do.
This step requires students (and us) to successively read through the passage several times. If the Bible is the book it promises to be, this kind of repeated reading matters and will lead to learning. This step also gives our WyldLife kids practice in digging for things deeper than just surface level.
The goal is to read the Bible in such a way that it starts to read us back.
Campaigners small group time involves more than reading the Bible, but this is the Single Most Important thing you will do in that time together.
More Campaigner tips to follow in the coming weeks. Until then, start digging into the Bible in new ways, to deeper depths, with fresh eyes, and with expectant hearts.