Apply is a new Bible study resource, and it seeks to be a little bit different, so I was intrigued when I received my review copy of these notes.
These are new Bible notes written for teenagers, aimed at producing good Bible reading habits in younger Christians. There are 52 undated sessions, so that the user can aim for one a week for a year, or use them more flexibly depending on their own habits.
The notes (large print in an A4 book) are rammed full of activities, questions, reflections and responses, with plenty of space for creative interaction with each study. The A4 size gives it a workbook feel, inviting the reader to scribble over it and engage with the pages.
Each day has nine set ‘ways’ to engage with the daily text. Each of the Nine Ways helps the reader unpack the text and crucially, apply it to their own life as specifically and relevantly as possible. (I guess the clue is in the name!) It’s a great layout, and each study has its own style and feel, helping set each day apart whilst consistently employing these Nine Ways.
(For context, the Nine Ways are: Tell God, Action, Inspire, Involve Others, Reflect, Grow, Evaluate, Grateful and Go Big.)
Who might benefit?
This is a really interesting set of notes, and it has great potential to help teenagers who perhaps struggle with more traditional reading notes. It might also help those who learn in different ways. Among the Nine Ways that feature in each study are more reflective exercises, interactive exercises, practical responses and actions. There’s plenty in these studies for all different personality types, and I think there would very much be something for everyone.
Each study also looks only at a few verses. So there are no lengthy passages or huge blocks of text. Whilst we need Bible studies that dig deep into the whole of Scripture, we also need more introductory resources, and Apply is definitely the latter. These short passages mean that each study is approachable, and it does not matter if they are studied successively or not, again allowing for further flexibility in how the studies are used and engaged with.
My only real concern with Apply is that the studies might ask too much of the reader. If you were to set off a young teenager with these notes and the goal of doing a few a week, you might find a rather more partial response. Nine different tasks, big or small, would have met a teenage me as a daunting task. Nonetheless, this could actually prove a strength of the studies.
If your youth group had a consistent problem of struggling with personal bible reading, why not suggest you go through these notes together, one study a week? You can encourage one another, and make the Nine Ways seem much less daunting to a young person who is perhaps less practised in Bible reading. Working through the studies in your own time could then be a way of encouraging the group briefly together when you meet. That’s just one idea, but hopefully it shows that there’s scope for using this resource in plenty of different ways.
This is a really interesting set of Bible reading notes for young people, and a really great alternative to some of the more traditional notes that do the rounds. I think there’s a lot of potential to think creatively about how Apply could be used by young people in our church contexts, and the make-up of the different studies means it will appeal to many different personalities.
As I mentioned, my one concern is that asking nine different responses of each study feels quite a lot, but in practice some of those are very short, whilst others might take longer. In a sense, the variety of ways of engaging with the text allows the reader to make of each study as much or as little as they want.
This is a great new venture, and credit must go to those involved, Beca, Chris, Daniel and Danielle, for all the work and effort they have put into the notes. They’ve produced some colourful, Gospel-focused and engaging studies that will hopefully be a great blessing to young people across the country.