Children's Ministry: How to Help Kids Memorize Bible Verses
When you’re teaching kids faith as a part of your Sunday school curriculum, it’s wonderful if they understand the stories while you teach them. It’s even better if they remember them after they leave class.
Teaching kids about Jesus is more than just telling them Bible stories for kids on a Sunday morning and sending them on their way. It’s important that kids know how the stories they learn in Sunday school can apply to the rest of their lives. One of the best ways to encourage your students to bring the Bible with them everywhere they go is through memorizing scripture.
If you’re in search of innovative children’s ministry ideas for how to help kids memorize Bible verses, here are some tricks to get your started.
- Start Small
Don’t expect that your students will be champion Bible quizzers from day one.
The key to ensure that your students actually remember what you’re trying to teach is by setting an achievable goal for memorization. Choose one or two short verses at a time to ensure that your kids aren’t overwhelmed.
Depending on the ages of your Sunday school classes, you may be able to increase or decrease the level of difficulty. However, avoid loading too much on the kids. Remind them that the point of the exercise isn’t to see who can recite the most from the Bible, but to retain scripture so that it comes to mind in your everyday life when you might not have a Bible on hand.
In addition to curating the amount of scripture you tackle, it’s also important to be careful about the translations you use.
Translations like the New King James version have a beautiful, poetic tone, but chances are that most young children won’t understand them. Comprehension is key to memorization. If your students don’t even understand the words they’re attempting to memorize, they’re unlikely to keep them hidden in their heart.
Stick to simpler, kid-friendly versions for your younger grades and only stray from those as is appropriate to your students’ age-group.
- Create a Visual Reminder
While it’s unlikely that your entire Sunday school lesson will consist of memorizing a single verse, it can be helpful to have it placed somewhere in the room so that kids can refer back to it often. Set up a visual reminder on a whiteboard or put up a sign that has the verse your kids are working to memorize. Especially if you keep the same verse for a series of weeks, having this reminder somewhere can help aid the memorization process.
It can also be helpful to have other sorts of images that connect to the verse and trigger their memory. For example, if you are memorizing a verse about working hard, an image of a shovel or hands may be an excellent visual to remind your kids of the verse you are focusing on at the moment.
- Practice Together
Don’t leave the memorization entirely up to the child. Especially if Bible memorization is a new practice you’re incorporating into how you approach kids Bible stories, it is important that you model how to memorize.
When you first introduce the verse, it can be helpful to go over it together multiple times. Break it down into 4-5 word phrases and build from there, inviting your classes to join you in saying it aloud.
It wouldn’t be wise to require that all students say the verse from memory in front of the class, but it could be encouraging for some to hear their peers recite the verses if you have any willing participants.
One good way to structure your Sunday school lessons could be to begin and end your classes by practicing the verse you’re trying to memorize. That way your students get frequent reminders of the scripture.
- Create Artifacts
For memorization efforts to be effective, reciting the verses cannot begin and end in the Sunday school classroom. If we really want kids to remember verses, they need to have the resources to practice them at home.
In most cases, your students probably have a Bible at home from which they can study. Even so, don’t assume that everyone has a Bible! Be sure to make some available so they can take a Bible without feeling ashamed for not already owning one.
Studying from the Bible directly is great, but you can also empower your students to create other engaging artifacts that help them remember the verses.
Coloring and activity pages, crafts, or even a simple, printed verse on a card can be great, tangible resources to encourage students and parents to practice verses to aid memorization.
- Use Hand Motions
Hand motions are a great way for kids to memorize Bible verses because it physically engages them in the process.
Before class, create simple hand motions that express the words of the verse or for an in-class activity, involve the kids in coming up with hand motions.
Send your students off with a challenge to come back the next week ready to share their Bible verse and motions.
Memorizing the Bible is about more than just impressing others with the quality of your rote memory. Dedicating time to studying the Bible and committing it to memory helps all of us engage with the Bible deeply and keep it at the forefront of our minds when we need it most.
For more Children’s ministry ideas, Christian parenting tips, and engaging media, check out our online catalogue of exciting resources for Christian families!