Reading the Bible with Youth – Lesson 1

A two-week study to introduce youth to the Bible.

Lesson Developed by

Jill Olds


An overview of how the Bible came together

Tips to Prepare

  • Set chairs in a circle or around a table if meeting in person
  • If meeting remotely, set up a virtual platform with breakout rooms, and have all materials available to share on your screen

Materials Checklist

  • A copy of the Christmas story (attached)
  • A timeline of the Bible (either large on the wall for the group or as handouts) – there are many online but a good list can be found here at Bible Gateway Blog
  • Handouts of 4 of Aesop’s Fables of your choosing
  • Bibles

Further Study

Introduction for Leaders

We hope you enjoy this two-week study on Reading the Bible with Youth. Week one focuses on the history of the Bible.

While we have provided a structure for the study, our hope is that you will use these pieces to craft your session and contextualize it for your group. You might use some of these pieces, or all of them. May the Spirit lead you as you customize your sessions!

We will highlight the relevant scholarly interviews and discussion guides from YDS Professors to assist you in your preparation for each week’s lesson.


  • Check in with group members
  • Open with prayer (leader or a group member)


Activity 1: The Christmas Story

  • Split the kids into four different groups (you can also only have one person per group, if your group is small). Keep one group in the room with you, but spread out the other groups, so that they are not within earshot of one another: one group down the hall, another in a different room, etc. (If you are doing this online, break them into breakout rooms or ask groups to turn their volume all the way down until you call them back via the chat function.
  • Have them relay the Christmas story, like the telephone game – 1st group to 2nd group, 2nd to 3rd group, 3rd to 4th group.
  • The last group to hear the story then relays it back to the entire group.
  • The leader then reads the original story to the whole group
  • Ask the group to comment on how the final group’s rendition differed from the original.
  • Reflect upon how the groups did in remembering every detail of the story, and in getting the whole gist.
  • Ask group members to remember as much of the story as they can for the next gathering.

Activity 2: The Make-up of the Bible

  • Make the connection between the telephone game and the creation of the Bible: that the Bible was written long after the events therein actually occurred.
  • Show timeline of when the books of the Bible were written
  • Make Observations: The Old Testament is written over a thousand year period (give or take). The New Testament was written over the period of 50 years, all of it after Jesus died.
  • Draw connections: the telephone game got the general gist of the story, but not every details. That story was one story, but had a few different ones in there (ie, staying up late at night, opening the presents, having dinner…). Same with the Bible.


Activity 3: Learning About Genres

  • Separate into groups again.
  • Hand out (or share) copies of a few of Aesop’s fables, one fable per group. Have them read it, and then share with the group the morals they can draw from the story.
  • Reflect in the group: Did these stories really happen? Are they true? How are those two questions different?
  • Come back together as one group and generate together a list of different genres in literature. (Ask students what kind of writing units they have had in school: fiction, non-fiction, poetry, persuasive writing, etc.)
  • Compare that to the list of genres in Scripture: law, history, wisdom and poetry, prophecy, gospel, letters, apocalyptic literature.

Send Forth

Discuss the following questions together:

  • What does the Bible still mean to you, even considering how it all came together?
  • Why do we still study it, even if not everything in it literally happened?
  • Are we still supposed to care about it?

“Homework” assignment: Have the kids try to remember the Christmas story (read it for them one more time if they’d like). And have them bring their questions about what’s actually in the Bible, things they’ve wondered about when they’ve read them, or things that haven’t made much sense.

Close in prayer


This Resource includes the following downloadable content:

Yale Youth Ministry Institute