Monday, July 23, 2007

Memorize The Word

In most Bible lessons, each lesson includes a memory verse. It used to be that this was the verse the teacher helped the kids memorize and often, at least one of the learning activities gave ideas on helping the children memorize that verse.

Memorizing scripture used to be a big thing. I remember how our church had a big box of ribbons with different verses printed on the ribbons. If we memorized the verse, we got the ribbon. Church camp team points were given for scripture memorization, a welcome relief to those of us who couldn’t contribute much to wining team points in sports competition.

It’s tough to get kids to memorize scripture today. Kids aren’t used to memorizing things as much; why should we memorize when we can quickly look things up on the Internet? Many curricula have succumbed to students’ indifference. I’m noticing that often, only parts of verses are given, easier kid-friendly versions of the Bible are used and we call it a “key verse” instead of a memory verse. As a teacher, it’s tempting to gloss over the memory verse activities just because it’s like pulling teeth to get the kids to memorize.

So why do it? My mom, who is still teaching women’s bible studies at age 71, sent me this email the other day:

“I wanted to share a praise with you. Yesterday I received a phone call from [name omitted]. She was in my Acts II class 5 yrs ago at PCC. She asked if I remembered her, I did. Then she went on to thank me for my teaching and to say how much she appreciated the memory verses I had given the class with each lesson and she still can remember them. This young woman has had a brain injury and sometimes had to leave class early because of fatigue or short attention span. I was overwhelmed by her call, since I had about decided that memory verses were something of the past. Now, I have decided that I will include them again when I teach Acts (part I) this fall. . . . It made my day.”

My mom’s story reminded me of another young woman who came from an abusive family. She attended a VBS program one year and learned the verse, “When I am afraid, I will trust in you(Psalm 56:3).” She related years later that as her drunken father would chase her through the house, she would run, whispering those words over and over again. Today, Susan has served as a missionary in Chile and now works at a para-church organization translating theological textbooks into other languages for indigenous church leaders to use.

On the surface, our students may resist learning the verses we teach, yet we may never know when a verse might stick in their hearts and change their lives.


Crystal Warren Miller said...

Teaching children memory verses usually sticks with them into adulthood. It's the best time for them to learn. I used to love to use the musical verses (songs) because it was yet another mode to help learn.

You are so right about this. What a good post and a nice reminder that memorization of God's Word (keeping it in our hearts) is not a thing of the past!

From the inside out said...

My husband and I were watching a Leonard Ravenhill interview on the computer yesterday when he mentioned his concern for children not being taught to memorize scripture (instead they watch TV). It made me recall going to Christian school as a kid and having a memory verse each week for each subject that's about 5 a week for each of my high school years. Honestly, I memorized them for a grade. My mom would laugh because every where in the house I would have them laid out before me, written on idex cards. Even wrapped in seran wrap taped to the back of the shower walls. It was great to have the word always before me. I can still recall them today, ones like "Even a fool is counted wise when he keeps his mouth shut" keep me in check! Great post!