Mark Hart has spent nearly three decades bringing the Gospel to young people, and in that time, he’s realized that teens can be a lot more interested in the Bible than adults may realize.
As the chief innovation officer at Life Teen International, Mark Hart is a teen catechesis expert, or as he likes to joke, a “Bible geek.”
He shared some of his best advice for introducing teens to Sacred Scripture in an interview with Aleteia.
1Encourage them to ask big questions
The first step is for teens to enter a thoughtful, reflective frame of mind.
“First, I think it’s important to get them asking questions before we start sharing knowledge,” Mark said. “Ask them about why? Why do they think that they’re here, why they were created, why God created them?”
Asking these questions is a natural start to learning about the Bible and its purpose.
2Explain that they are part of a greater story
To learn about God, who is “the author of the story,” teens need “to consider the fact that they’re in a story.”
So the next step is revealing that these big questions have an answer in the story of salvation.
Mark advises explaining to teens, “Their life is a story and they’re a character in the story. It really is starting there, that there is a story that God is trying to tell us, about us.”
3Know where in the Bible to start
The Bible is not one book but a vast collection of books. Reading it can be an overwhelming undertaking.
That’s why Hart has created Venture: The Bible Timeline for High School to introduce teens to the “big picture” of salvation history in a way that is simple to understand and easy to teach.
Venture uses the Great Adventure Bible Timeline Learning System that hundreds of thousands of Catholic adults have used to learn the Bible – including listeners of the #1 podcast The Bible in a Year.
Thisgives a glimpse into Venture. Hart explains,
We can walk through [the Bible] together, slowly. I can help them navigate the challenges, the obstacles, the minefields, if you will. But if they’ll stick with me, they’ll start to understand that the Bible is one of the ways that God tries to not only communicate with us, but communicate about us.
Knowing the context for the books of the Bible makes all the difference, so that “when teens open the Bible, their own hands, their minds, their hearts are open to receiving.”
4Reveal how the Bible can help them make sense of their lives
Whatever struggles a teen is facing, someone in the Bible struggled with the same thing. Pulling out these themes help teens see why the Bible is relevant to their lives.
“At the end of the day we are hardwired for God,” Mark said. “And Scripture is a way that speaks truth that gets through lies.”
Scripture helps teens, and all of us, to truly understand the purpose of life. It helps us know our identity and why we are on this earth.
“Scripture really is that gift of God, as a traveling companion, as a shepherd,” Mark said.
Teens “can’t necessarily take the Eucharist everywhere they go, but they can take Scripture everywhere they go. They can start and end their day with God.”