At Youth for Christ, we passionately believe that the Bible is foundational to seeing young people’s lives transformed by Jesus. In order to see lives transformed, they need to be exposed to the amazing story- redefining truths in Scripture. And we don’t just know that this is true from belief. We’ve seen the word of God directly change the lives of young people.
The Bible changes lives
One youth group clearly dragged along a few young people to a recent residential. They were on their phones during most of the activities and roadshows the team were throwing their all into. On the Saturday night, the theme was love and the Bible passage that was preached was 1 John 3:16-20. “This is how we know what love is….”. The ringleader’s body language changed as those verses were unpacked. His phone was off, his ears and heart were attentive. An opportunity was given to make a decision to follow Jesus. This young person and a bunch of his friends responded.
Even more recently, at a summer festival in August, we saw the impact of the Bible on a young life. A young man who had absolutely no faith background, had seemingly made it his mission to disrupt the youth venue at a summer camp we were running. One day he was the centre of a massive issue that involved us calling the police on site. He was hard work. But one night, he came in (probably to disrupt again) and heard the gospel preached from the book of John. He made a decision, based on the words he heard, to commit his life to Christ. He then spent the rest of the evening sat with the team, going through the Bible – even though there was a bonfire on that night!
We also get feedback about the power of the Bible from the subscribers of the resources we produce. We create outreach and discipleship resources weekly – each one packed with life-transforming references from the Bible. Recently, we had feedback from a youth leader who has worked through a series on evangelism from Mettle (our 14-18s discipleship programme). His young people have taken the message of 1 Peter 3:15 to heart and are stepping up conversations with their Non-Christian friends.
Here’s the challenge though, we are undoubtedly dealing with the most biblically illiterate generation in history (well – in history since the Bible came about!). There are certainly many varied reasons for this (i.e. numbers of young people in church declining, the rise in 2nd/3rd generation unchurched families). Yet we are convinced part of the problem is that we aren’t as hot as we should be at explaining how amazing this book is to young people.
Perhaps because we’re aware that some parts are challenging and we think young people might not come to grips with the complexities. Maybe, because it’s long and we think they don’t have enough patience. Perhaps it might even be because we aren’t aware of a Bible that really meets the needs, issues and desires that young people have today. Don’t get us wrong, there are some fantastic youth Bibles out there but do many specifically consider the Non-Christian young person? What will get them interested in the word of God?
A Fantastic Opportunity
So, when the Bible Society came to Youth for Christ’s head office to meet with the church resources team to ask if we would consider the possibility of producing a brand new youth edition of the Bible, we leapt at the opportunity. We absolutely love the Bible Society and their mission to bring the Bible to life for everyone. Their commitment to taking Bibles to all nations, peoples and kinds matches our own desire to see young people’s lives changed by Jesus.
They came to us as they were planning to revamp their current Good News Bible for young people. The original plan was for a new cover and opening section but we quickly found out there was scope for far more. We had a year and we knew where to start.
We gathered a bunch of young people together at our head office and asked as many questions as we could around Bible engagement. What we needed to know was what young people wanted from the Bible. We didn’t want to just produce a version with a more relevant cover. We wanted a Bible that matched the needs of this generation. The main watchword that came back to us was ‘interactive’.
What Young People Want
Young people want a Bible that helps them unpack the Bible! They want creative, thought-provoking, active, visual ways to dive deeper into God’s word and that’s not just Christian young people. Those that don’t yet believe in what the Bible is talking about are still much more likely to find out, if there are a variety of ways to help them do that. Young people want colour, space to dream and explore, opportunity to collaborate with friends and to be challenged. Although each idea meant more work for us, it was encouraging that young people are up for reading the Bible, with a little more help.
Ways to Engage
That’s why the Bible we’ve produced has loads of creative, interactive sections front, middle and back. These include unpacking how the Bible was put together, how to get the best out of it and some key issues such as relationships, mental health and exams. It also has over 400 individual interactions running throughout. Every other page you open leads not only to the incredible word of God but also a creative way to best unpack that word. Be it a paragraph to colour in, a link to a YouTube video on a topic, a challenge or a paragraph to help young people to learn more about what they are reading, this Bible exists to help young people engage (or re-engage) with God’s word in an exciting and fresh way.
The whole process involved many hours of planning, imagining, writing and editing content. It has taken many more hours to produce 30 high-quality films on biblical and cultural issues. And more time to consult with young people and go over cover designs and specs. A massive shout out has to go to our graphic designer Becky Vale. She had to deal with shifting ideas, plans and thoughts, to design an outstanding looking Bible.
It’s been a lot of hard work but we are delighted with the new Good News Bible. It is designed to be something a non-Christian young person would be inspired to pick up. And something that encourages Christian young people to dive deeper. It’s a Bible for creatives, intellectuals, the talkative, introverts, the outdoorsy and the colourful. It’s a Bible that can both serve as a journaling tool and an extra youth worker in the room.
Designed by Young People, for Young People
It is undoubtedly one of the most exciting projects Youth for Christ has been involved with in its more than 70 years of existence. While the central truths of the Bible remain constant, young people need new ways to engage with them.
And this is what we do at Youth for Christ. We remain anchored to the rock and geared to the times. We haven’t added anything to the perfect word of God. But we have responded to the challenge of today. Which is to re-engage a generation with God’s Word in the most fun and creative ways.
Get Your Copy
You can purchase the Good News Bible – Youth Edition here, as well as at other bookstores. Why not grab some copies for young people you know? The church resources team are buying a copy for ourselves too because they’re a lot of fun.
By Dan Lodge