How We Read the Bible

"This book will help people move from using the Bible only to gain information, and into a growing relationship with the Bible and a lifelong journey of transformation.”
Richard Rohr, OFM, author of The Divine Dance

How We Read the Bible:

8 Ways to Engage the Bible with Our Students

Buy the Book

Bring Scripture to life with teenagers.

As much as youth leaders may love the Bible, we often handle it poorly in our ministries. We get stuck in ruts. We worry about “relevance” but fail to see the depth of what’s already there. We wonder:
  • Is there more than one way to read and study the Bible in our youth ministry?
  • How can we engage the Bible so they’ll want to keep reading?
  • What do we do with all of our students’ questions about what we read in the Bible?
  • How can engaging the Bible be a spiritual experience, not just an educational exercise?
  • Plus, the question we’re all asking: What should we do at youth group next week?
This book is for anyone who has struggled to know how to open the Bible with young people in large groups, small groups, Sunday school, mentoring relationships, or through camps and retreats. Drawing from over a dozen years of FYI’s research with young people and churches, this resource focuses in on Matt’s own experience reading the Bible firsthand and attempting to teach it to students as a youth pastor.

Start here to refresh the way you read the Bible
with young people.

Additional resources for How We Read the Bible:


Let’s start new conversations about how we read the Bible with teenagers

Read Post


How to recover from handling Scripture poorly in your ministry

Read Post


What is the Bible asking of us?

Read Post

Meet the Author


Matthew J. Laidlaw is a co-founder of Open Circle, an "inclusively-Christian" spiritual community in Grand Rapids, Michigan. He is an ordained minister and has been serving in executive and administrative leadership while working in both school and church-based pastoral ministry for the past 15 years. Matthew is a graduate of Kuyper College, Grand Rapids Theological Seminary, and the Living School for Action and Contemplation, and has lived and studied in the Middle East. Matthew and his wife Stephanie live in West Michigan with their two young children.

Learn more about Matt

Praise for How We Read the Bible

“Many churches spend their energy trying to "get it right" when it comes to WHAT the Bible is and WHAT the Bible says. This is especially true when it comes to how many churches engage their young people.

“Through Matt's unique story and perspective, he invites us into a broader experience of HOW we read the Bible and challenges us to consider that there are more "how's" than we could have imagined. This book will help people move from using the Bible only to gain information, and into a growing relationship with the Bible and a lifelong journey of transformation.”

Richard Rohr, OFM, author of The Divine Dance


“This book by Matt Laidlaw is going to be used widely by youth workers who are concerned about biblical illiteracy among young people today. Matt provides outstanding directives on how to get young people involved in the Bible and how to get them discussing how the Bible relates to their everyday experiences. I give this book two thumbs up.”

Tony Campolo, author, speaker, and a founder of the Red Letter Christians movement


“Laidlaw charts a course from the shores of reading the Bible to the deep waters of allowing the Bible to lead us in youth ministry. In a journey with the author from the shores of Lake Superior to the Sea of Galilee, this resource will immerse your ministry— and more importantly your own spiritual journey—in rich biblical reflection and thoughtful practice with young people.”

Abigail Visco Rusert, Director, Institute for Youth Ministry, Princeton Theological Seminary


"​This book is for the heroes who dream big about how students can form a different kind of relationship with the words of God.  I’m a fan of anyone who begs us to stick with students in the questions and dissonance that result when we let the Bible shape who we are. Matt gives us engaging help to reframe the way we experience the Bible."​

 —Brooklyn Lindsey​, ​recovering youth ​minister, ​writer, ​speaker, ​church ​planter ​of ​Somos Church, Lakeland​,​ Florida


“Some theorists have argued that we’re living in a post-reading world. Fewer people are reading books, and even fewer are reading newspapers. YouTube and Netflix have become ubiquitous. Youth workers have a struggle ahead of them; not only do they need to convince young people to read, but to read an ancient text for meaning and direction in their lives today. While young people might think it an option not to read, the depth of the Christian tradition and the importance of discerning the action of the living God make reading the biblical text essential. Right at the crux of this tension, Matt Laidlaw offers all of us an incredibly helpful resource to find our way productively through this reality. I promise this little book will open your mind about reading the Bible and impact your young people. It is a treasure.”   

Andrew Root, Professor of Youth and Family Ministry, Luther Seminary and author of Exploding Stars, Dead Dinosaurs, and Zombies: Youth Ministry in an Age of Science


"I wish Matt Laidlaw had been my pastor when I was a teenager. I wish this book had been at my disposal when I started ministry 20+ years ago. The words of this book are freeing and frustrating, filling and full, foundational and future focused. Not only did I feel challenged and provoked in my own discipleship, but I was inspired as a teacher to teenagers today. If you want to capture the imagination of teenagers with the wholeness of the Gospel, read this before you teach again."

April Diaz, 

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