IntroductionThe Bible is the timeless word of God (Isaiah 40:8, NIV). Through the Bible we gain wisdom, guidance for our everyday lives and solace in times of trouble. More importantly, it helps us to know God more deeply and learn how to apply our faith in different situations in our personal and social lives.
Against this backdrop of the timelessness of the Bible, this paper seeks to look into the culture of Filipino youth particularly in the way that they regard the Bible. It also seeks to present the current situation of young people with emphasis on their habits, usage, and attitudes towards the Internet and other new media. Out of the juxtaposition of these two things, a set of strategies will be formulated in making the Bible more relevant to 21st century Filipino youth—these strategies will integrate different media for maximum impact.
This paper holds that the Bible is the word of God and that “all scripture is God-breathed and is useful for teaching, rebuking, correcting and training in righteousness so that the man of God may be thoroughly equipped” (2 Timothy 3:16-17, NIV). The Bible contains concepts, principles, and practices, which if followed, will benefit not only Christians, but anyone who applies them. On the other hand, the internet, Friendster, blogs, online communities, video games and other online platforms affect the social skills, the learning processes and the spirituality of young people. Undoubtedly, the Bible is still relevant in the lives of young people. But do they perceive it that way? How can we promote greater relevance of the Bible in their lives?This paper is divided into three major parts. It discusses the situation of young people in the Philippine society and looks at the relevance of the Bible in regards to these issues. Although there are several media that the youth are exposed to, it discusses in particular the trends in youth culture relating to the use of the Internet and other media connected with it. This paper will conclude with a framework for promoting appreciation and relevance of the Bible given the trends in youth culture.Three main principles will be used in proposing this set of strategies. First, creative, “out of the box” methods should be used in presenting the stories and message of the Bible. In addition, interactivity is the language of this generation so any effort to reach young people should have this element. Finally, practical and contextual issues will serve as gateways in teaching “deeper” spiritual truth to young people.This paper also calls for the establishment of a think tank or research body or a network that can help recognize the trends in youth culture and how churches and ministries can present the Christian message more effectively. The Philippine Bible Society can assist in setting up of this body with the help of various youth and campus ministries in the country. A blueprint for this think tank body is outline in this paper.The Present Situation of Filipino Youth To analyze the importance of the Bible in the lives of the Filipino youth, it would be necessary to look at the situation of young people in the Philippine society. The issues the youth are facing may be complex and multifaceted, yet the Bible holds important principles and concepts that can help them deal with these issues and prepare them for responsible adulthood and in following the Lord Jesus Christ.The Philippine Commission on Population (2003) released a study documenting the current situation of young people in the Philippines. Individuals who are between 15 and 25 years old are considered as youth by the PCP report. For this paper, such a classification will be followed. In the 2000 Philippine census, there are 15.1 million youth out of 76.5 million Filipinos. This represents 20% of the total population. After 33 years, this number is expected to double.Thirty-three percent (33%) of young people are poor. Most of the youth belonging to poor families are found in the CARAGA, Western Mindanao, Eastern Visayas and Bicol regions. (National Statistics Office, 2002). Of the total population of Filipino youth, 42% of them attend school. In the Metro Manila Area, 29 percent are idle or in youthful parlance, they are tambay. Three out of ten Filipino youth are already employed. By 1994, around 88% of youth possess functional literacy, especially in writing, reading and numerical skills. Women tend to have a higher level of educational attainment; probably because more young men tend to work to help augment their family income. By 2002, Filipino youth made up 33% of the total labor force of the country. On the other hand, 1.48 million, almost 50% of the 3.13 million unemployed Filipinos, are young people. Furthermore, unemployment among young people is on the rise in the past 5-6 years, especially in urban areas. The number of youth going overseas to look for work has also increased, making up 12% of the total population of overseas Filipino workers (Philippine Commission on Population, 2003).Given these demographics, there are different issues being faced by Filipino youth. Foremost among these are issues of poverty, education, reproductive health, premarital sex, unwanted pregnancy, moral disintegration, how they form and develop identity in a society affected by globalization and the ensuing erosion of traditional authorities such as the family and the church.Filipino youth would do well to learn biblical principles that can help them deal with these issues. However, if it is any indication, the seats in the church during Sunday School are getting sparser and sparser. The only time that young people become involved in Bible Study is when they attend a church service or a camp. This is true in the denominational affiliation of this author. Usually, only those who are committed Christian youth leaders diligently study the Bible. “Ordinary” young people usually consider the Bible as boring and irrelevant to their lives. Adolescence and youth are stages in the lives of young people in which they question the faith handed on to them (PCOP, 2003). The Bible and its message will therefore aid them in their search for the truth. But then again, because of many distractions and diversion of attention available nowadays, they do not search the Scriptures. Churches and Christian groups therefore need creative strategies in promoting Bible-reading among young people, even among the young people who are active church goers.Francis (2000) conducted a study among British young people and found out that two-thirds of them do not read the Bible and only 5% read the Bible at least once a week. The study found out that Bible reading is affected by the sex, age, social class, denomination and frequency of church attendance of young people. Although this study was conducted in England, this reality can also be observed in the Philippines because our society is influenced greatly by Western culture. This author, however, encountered a dearth of materials dealing with the Bible reading habits of Filipino young people. In this regard, more research is needed.