Is bible memorization still important? As a kid I grew learning a new bible verse every week, sometimes more than one. When I started working with the K-5th grades at my current congregation, this was not being done at all. I wondered if this intentional or just a lack of planning? I tried making a game our of memorizing a scripture many times but it was not a priority to the teachers so if they were short on time or wanted to pass out snacks instead, bye-bye bible verse.
What about the parents? How do they feel about memorizing scriptures? The only way to know the answer to this was to ask them. That’s just what I did. I pulled up Survey Monkey and sent out four simple questions.
- Do you feel bible class attendance is important for your children?
- Do you feel memorizing scripture is important?
- Do you feel that knowing how to find the books of the bible is important?
- What other things do you feel are important for your kids to get from their church family?
I didn’t get an overwhelming response, but enough to learn that the parents do feel that their children should be in class but they do not feel that memorization is important. With this being the case, I would need to offer some pretty good incentives to get the kids motivated enough to work on memorization outside of bible class when I know their parents are not going to be pushing them to do this. So after much thought and time in prayer, I decided that instead of fighting an uphill battle in this area (when there are many more important I chose to take on), I would focus on one thing year round. We would memorize the books of the bible. Every time we meet we sing the Old and New Testament bible book songs. Then, with the younger children, we play games where they have to tell me if the book I shout out is found in the Old or New Testament. The fourth and fifth graders actually look up the books in their bibles. I figure that if we teach them the bible, where the lessons are found, and we teach them how to find the books of the bible, they will be prepared. And as they get older, Google is usually there, but knowing how to find answers in God’s word on your own is a valuable skill to have.
If you feel that learning the books of the bible is something you would like to add to or modify for your children’s program, here are a few games we play. Make sure to print cards with each book of the bible on a card. I draw cards out of a cup for all of these games so they are random and could be any of the 66 books of the bible.
- Bible Sides: Label one side of the room “OLD” and the other “NEW.” As you name a book, kids quickly walk to the side they think the book belongs to. After everyone chooses, give the answer and all the ones that got it right get super excited. No one moves yet. Now give the next book and let kids move again. Continue until a timer goes off or do like I do and make this the last part of class so you go until the bell rings.
- Bible Airplanes or Ball Toss: Set two baskets along a wall. Label one “OLD” and the other “NEW.” If you play with airplanes, let them spend 60 seconds making a paper airplane (they love this). Then, choose a card and let them throw their plane or ball (paper balls work great) into the appropriate basket. Then, choose one plane from the basket, choose a book and toss the plane back to that student as they tell you where it’s found. Continue until all planes are returned, then start over.
- Bible Parachute: They love this too! Have kids grab a handle on the parachute. As you sing the Old Testament song, have them walk to the left. As you sing the New Testament song, have them walk to the right. Then, name a book, toss a small stuffed animal (or paper ball) in the center and let them bounce it softly as you give them different books to tell you where they are found. You may even put two items in the middle and label them Old and New.
- Bible Tunnel: The K-3rd LOVE this, but you do have to remind them why they get to travel through the tunnel or they may just laugh instead of sing. Kids make their way through the tunnel as you sing all the books of the bible. Then, they line and take turns letting you know if the book you name is found in the Old or New Testament. The first several times of this game I let them go whether they are right or wrong, just go for trying. After they’ve had plenty of practice, they get to travel through the tube if they answer correctly.