As a leader of a small group, especially a group of youth, it is important to do Bible studies that are both poignant and challenging, but also are interesting and understandable. Youth are constantly being given different information from sources about what Truth really is, and many of these sources are not biblical. It is up to youth leaders to pick a Bible study that will not only inform the youth and build them up in their understanding of the Bible, but will also be applicable to their daily lives.
The following studies are good starting points for youth Bible studies.
Alpha for Youth
Alpha Youth is a well-known course that is essentially a foundational overview of Christianity. It is designed to be delivered to participants who are new to the ideas of Christianity, and are maybe not yet Christians or are just interested in understanding more about Christianity. It is based largely on a conversational discussion among the participants, with leaders taking more of an enabling role than a teaching role. The youth version is modified to touch on subjects specific to the middle and high school age group.
This study is actually free with registration of an Alpha group, meaning that you just have to sign up to get the resources. The resources are available online, and can be streamed into your study. These courses usually revolve around discussion over meals or refreshments because the session is intended to be comfortable and stress-free for participants. The entire course can be completed in 7-10 sessions.
Follow Me (Student Study)– David Platt
This study is based on the best-selling book by David Platt. The book revolves around the question of what it means to really follow Jesus. Throughout this book, Platt works through what Jesus says in the Bible, and also how these expectations look in a modern context. He takes apart some of the myths of following Christ, but also admonishes practices that he believes show the complacency that has become normal in many North American Christians.
This is a great study that also has versions available specifically for adults and children as well – entire churches can work through the same study, but have the lessons contoured specifically for the different age groups. It is a six session study, and the packet includes a book for each participant, a leader guide, and a DVD that works through the reading for each session. This is a great study for leaders who are speaking to students who know Christ, but want to take their relationship deeper.
Surrender – Francis Chan
Surrender is a new study put out by pastor and best-selling author Francis Chan. In this study, participants will look at what surrendering to God’s will looks like, why it is important, and how it will change their lives. Specifically, Chan discusses how holding on to sins rather than giving them to God will hold you back from living a free life.
This is a four part series that is created specifically for youth. It is available online for free with a subscription to RightNow media, or can be purchased for online streaming if you don’t have a subscription. Leader guides are also available for purchase – these guides include handouts for each video as well.
Break Free Youth Ministry
Break Free Youth ministry is a website that essentially collects and markets free youth Bible study resources. There are multiple categories of resources including Bible studies, videos, game templates, and presentations. While these resources may not be of the same polished quality as some of the more expensive youth Bible studies, they can be extremely useful for small group leaders who are looking for a way to make their studies more exciting or topical.
One of the things that makes this site different (other than the fact that everything is free) is the game templates that are offered. These templates are mostly made for PowerPoint, but are great ice-breakers for Bible studies – they can be used to get the group moving, talking, and generally improve the atmosphere and comfort level of the entire session.
This is a website that will take some time to explore, and leaders will definitely need to view the website as a resource rather than a source; it offers a lot of options that will add to a lesson, but the leader will need to do more preparatory work than in the other options listed above. However, there is a lot of material than can be effectively used if you are willing to look for it on this site.
Ultimately, as a leader you must decide which option fits the needs of your youth group. Some of the studies like Surrender and Follow Me are great, but they are also more expensive than what is offered through Break Free Youth Ministry. At the same time, the Alpha course may not be as effective in interesting, challenging, and reaching your small group as the other Bible studies are, or vice versa. Each small group will have a different dynamic, and the studies will only be effective if the leader takes the time to choose based on the needs of the group, and also prepare properly for each session.