Most people hear “Inductive Bible Study” and think it sounds very complicated and is for the super brainy. But that’s not the case. The great thing about Inductive Bible Study is that it CAN be very complicated and appealing to the super brainy, but it doesn’t have to be. And it doesn’t start out that way. Your study can deepen over time, but the basics are, well, basic.
So, can kids actually learn how to do Inductive Bible Study? I can tell you from first-hand experience the answer is a solid “yes.” I’ve seen children from ages 6 to 12 learn it and love it. Does that mean it’s a good fit for every single kid? No. Just like adult Precept classes aren’t for every single adult. But you would be surprised at how many kids are ready–even hungry–for this kind of study.
And when you keep in mind that in Jewish tradition, children were memorizing entire books of the Bible by the time they hit their teens, I think you’ll agree we might be underestimating our kids.
Not convinced? Let me make a case:
1) Kids don’t know it is “hard.”
Besides not knowing the word “inductive,” kids don’t have any reason to assume that this type of study is difficult. They aren’t as hung up on whether things are beyond them, or whether or not they should be intimidated. This lack of self-doubt really works to your advantage because if you tell a kid he can do this study, he’ll believe you.
2) It’s a step-by-step process, and it’s the same process every time.
Inductive Bible Study is very methodical. You always do Observation first, then Interpretation, and then Application. Every time. Whether you’re studying prophecy, poetry, or history, it’s the same. Kids like knowing that they are learning a system, not tackling 66 books of the Bible all at once. It’s the same thing as when you learn how to do a new kind of math problem; once you know the steps, you don’t have to worry about what the next question will be.
Another characteristic of the study is that the questions get bigger as you move through the process.
For example, in Observation, you might answer questions (straight out of the text, by the way) like, “Where did God tell Jonah to go? Where did he go instead?” Those are straightforward. In Interpretation, you look at questions like, “What was so bad about Nineveh?” Then when you get to Application, the questions are bigger, but the kids are ready for them because of everything they have learned up to this point. “If God calls you to do something uncomfortable or scary, how will Jonah’s story help you be obedient?” Boom.
3) There are lots of techniques.
Inductive Bible Study carries with it a whole toolbox of cool techniques, so kids are bound to like at least a few of them. Most kids like marking the text with colored pencils, and most like object lessons. Others really get into learning about the historical context, or doing word studies, or making lists. I always tell the kids in my class that I don’t expect them to like all of the techniques, or even to use them all the time. But I do want them to know how to do them.
4) In Application, they get to talk about themselves.
Kids like that, don’t they? It’s a great payoff after putting in the work on Observation and Interpretation, and it’s where they learn that God’s Word isn’t some dusty old book Mom carries around, but it actually has something to say to them and about them. That’s pretty exciting! If you really want them to love this step, try to let them talk as much as possible. Guide the conversation, but this isn’t the lecture part of the study.
5) They want time with you.
Kids want to spend time with their parents, or with teachers who really care about them. I’ve seen it over and over- the kids look forward to their one-on-one time with Mom or Dad doing Bible study together. Great conversations come about organically from the study time. Giving them that nurtures their love for their parents, and for the Bible. Hard to argue with that.
So, you see, there are lots of reasons why Inductive Bible Study doesn’t fly over their little heads. They are capable of doing it, and what a great way to steward their “spongy” years. The feeling of accomplishment they get is such a boost, and knowing they have the skills to open up their Bibles and know what they’re doing is lifelong security.
Are you convinced? Still skeptical? Let me know in the comments section! I’m happy to answer any questions you might have, or hear your personal stories of kids studying the Bible.