Getting Your Students To Memorize Scripture
"All Scripture is God-breathed and is useful for teaching, rebuking, correcting and training in righteousness, so that the servant of God may be thoroughly equipped for every good work." - 2 Timothy 3:16-17 (NIV)
When I think about church during my childhood years, a few things come to mind. Singing Father Abraham, cookies and juice, and memory verses. For the most part, I’ve left all of these things in the past. I promise you will not catch me singing Father Abraham because the dance moves make me dizzy and the cookies and juice have been traded for Subway sandwiches after church. What I didn’t leave in the past, though, were the memory verses.
One thing that I notice is that the older we get, the less emphasis there is on memorizing scripture. For most people, memory verses became something to be remembered when reminiscing about those days in children’s ministry. With age, we might read and study the Bible more, which is definitely what we should be doing, but ask yourself this: as an adult, how much effort do you put into actually memorizing scripture?
This is something that I didn’t want to happen to the students in my youth group—I didn’t want the memory verse to become a thing of their past. Memorizing scripture is good for many reasons: encouragement, silencing the voice of the Enemy, and reminding yourself of God’s promises…just to name a few. My students need to be able to do this, and yours do, too. I would like to share with you a few things that I have incorporated into our programming that have helped our students get Bible verses engrained in their teenage brains.
1. Be Intentional About the Scripture You Choose: Every month I give our middle school students a “Verse of the Month”. Typically, the verse goes with the teaching series that we are on. If our topic of discussion is centered around loving others, guess what scripture I try to get them to memorize? Duh! One that talks about loving others! I’ve noticed that this helps them to realize that the things talked about in the Word of God translate into what we deal with in our everyday lives. Could you choose a completely different scripture that has nothing to do with what you’re studying with your group? Sure! But I have found that keeping the two related really help my students make the connection.
2. Annoy Them with It: The man that my sister, Breanne, is married to is from Colombia and speaks fluent Spanish. Ever since they’ve been together Breanne has tried to learn the language as well. One thing that I notice she does to perfect her Spanish-speaking skills is posting Spanish words all over their house. She has a bulletin board that has Spanish flash cards on it and a dry erase board filled with English words next to their Spanish equivalent. In addition to those two things, I’ve noticed Spanish flash cards taped to the object that they name. She speaks to her husband in Spanish, she orders food in Spanish, and she watches videos in Spanish. What does this have to do with getting your youth group to memorize scripture? Take a page out of Breanne’s book and surround your students with scripture the same way that she surrounded herself with the Spanish language. With our group’s Verse of the Month, I post it on the walls of our youth space. I text it to them at least twice a week. I quote it. I remind them of it. Does it get on their nerves? I’m pretty sure it does. BUT IT WORKS. This is one instance where it’s okay to be annoying.
3. Teach them the Importance of It: When it comes to encouraging my students to get scriptures into those adolescent heads of theirs, one of the biggest hurdles is getting them to see why they need to. To them, all they need are their phones, friends, and Takis. I so desperately want them to understand that those things are nice, but Takis will not help them when it comes to Spiritual warfare. I wish I could say that I have mastered this but I haven’t. However, I will keep trying. I do my best to set an example when I’m talking to them, whether in my teaching or just simple conversations. I myself have seen just how incredible the Word of God is, and how much more powerful it can be when we know how to use it. If I know that, why not share it with them?
Hebrews 4:12 reminds us just how powerful a weapon the Bible is. This weapon should be in the arsenal of our students, and it is up to us to help them do this.
What are some things that you do to help your students memorize scripture?