It’s the same thing every Sunday. Memory verse time! We believe it is important to memorize the Word of God. What we don’t want is for it to become routine and just another thing to fill the “church hour”.
Even though having a church-wide Bible memorization program is not a new thing, missionaries when starting a new church have to choose wether to do it or not. This allows for some thinking on its costs and benefits. After all, we don’t want to do it just because “that’s what you do in church”.
We have a lady that comes to our church that is a new Christian. She is interested in growing in her walk with the Lord, so we got a more mature lady in the church and they are doing a one-on-one Bible study together. She is excited about the Lord and she takes her Bible study seriously. Earlier in the month I introduced the idea of memorizing Bible verses together as a church. She said, “Good! The other day I shared a Bible verse that I memorized in our Bible study with an unsaved friend. Then, I wanted to show her the verse in the Bible. I couldn’t. I had memorized the verse, but not the reference!”
She was reacting to the two main things I had just shared about our new endeavor. I had told them, (1) that we would learn to say the reference in the beginning and in the end of the verse, (2) and that this year we would be memorizing verses that we can then use for personal evangelism.
It is important that people have a good handle on why they’re doing what they’re doing. Of course we went over the Biblical reasons why Bible memorization is important. But after you do that, it is important that people can visualize how it all works in practice. Grouping the Bible verses you are memorizing in a theme, will help people understand that this is not a religious practice. We are committing God’s Word to memory because we want to be used of God and we want to use the tools He gives us to use. This year we have been encouraging our people (many of them are new believers) to share their faith with others. In this context it made sense to them when we told them that the verses we are memorizing can be used in personal evangelism. After a few months of memorizing evangelistic verses, maybe we can go on to verses on the Divinity of Christ, verses for people struggling with temptation, verses for people grieving, and the list goes on and on.
This idea worked well for us, because in a church planting context everything about church is in its inception, but I believe any church-wide Bible memorization program can benefit from it. Here’s what we did:
- A Sunday School lesson on Bible memorization: Even if you’re in the middle of a series, you can pause that and have just one lesson on the importance of Bible memorization. There is a lot in the Bible about it. Use your own testimony and testimonies about it borrowed from other Christians. Encourage the people. Listen to their concerns and answer their questions. The hour will fly by.
- One verse a month: Maybe after a few months go by, your people are ready for two verses a month. There is no need to overwhelm them and anyone that memorize other verses if they want.
- Remember the reference!: The reference is repeated twice every time we say the verse out loud. It is almost as important to know the verse’s “address” as it is to know the verse itself.
- Group the verses by theme: This is an easy way to showcase the application of a Bible memorization program.
- Start with an easy one: We started with John 1:12. Of course some people already knew it. Others knew it, but did not know the reference. Some, that you think ought to know it already, did not know it.
- Repeat the verse in every service: It does not have to take a long time in the service. For the visitors, it shows your church loves the Word of God.
- Involve the children: You might want to reinforce the monthly verse in your children’s Sunday School, so that the whole family is working on the same verse.
You will never remember all the verses you’ve learned at once. But the Holy Spirit can bring to memory, when you need it the most, the one verse that will help you.
Question: Any good ideas on Bible memorization, or testimonies you would like to share? Leave us a comment bellow.
Rethinking Church-Wide Bible Memorization http://t.co/Q9e1wYqKy3 http://t.co/CgqUSqtdBV
Hello Pastor Mark,
We had a visit at our church a few years ago from a pastor of another Baptist church in Glasgow which is in a deprived area, with restricted opportunities, low educational achievement and the whole spectrum of social problems. Most of the congregation had never heard anything of the Gospel before crossing the doors of the church, which, similar to your case, is the only evangelical witness in the area. This church is doing great things- growing, building, and changing lives for Jesus in a way that really impacts on the local community. The pastor got us to experience what a church service is like for his folks and in some ways it is quite relevant to your post.
The difficulty he faces in getting his congregation to engage with the Bible and all its treasures is their very low standard of literacy. Most of them have reading ages in the elementary school range and some of them can’t read at all. He reads the Bible to them at every opportunity but many of them can’t follow the passage for themselves and can only listen. They are a wonderful testament to the truth that faith comes by hearing, but Bible memorization is vital for them because without it they won’t be able to access scripture by themselves at all. Also, memorization of the chapter and verse is equally important in this case because without that, not being able to read the verse from a Bible for themselves, the verses might become just like any other good saying they have memorised which has no real authority.
The pastor’s way of tackling this is creative and inspired. He prepares photocopied handouts for each service with a few selected sentences which illustrate the key points of his sermon as well a bible verse from the reading. These are in large print and use very simple vocabulary. Each of them has a blank space with a word or two missing. In essence and function they are not unlike the worksheets you might use with children in Sunday school but it is important that they don’t look childish, so in style and appearance they are much more grown up and incorporate photographic images and subtle colour schemes to help with visual memory. When he comes to the Bible verse or key point in the sermon he recites it several times to the congregation and gets them to repeat it back to him. Once they are confident with it he gets them to fill in the missing word on the sheet. Those with better literacy skills help those who have difficulty, spelling out words and helping them shape letters. Everything about this is great, and tailored exactly to suit the very particular needs of one fellowship. It makes church accessible to people who would normally feel excluded, helps with adult literacy, encourages Bible memorization, and fosters a real sense of fellowship among the congregation. In addition, the pastor was successful in obtaining a grant from the local education authorities to cover the cost of producing the materials on the basis that it was a genuine community adult literacy project.
The story here is that if you use your God-given gifts of creativity to meet those particular needs of your congregation which God has revealed to you, He will also bless you, and through you will bless and build His church. For me it also demonstrates the blessings of a congregationally structured local church with the capacity to adapt to its own local situation as God leads, every congregation unique though we all have one message, one faith, one Lord and one Father of All.
Be encouraged on all that you do!
What a great testimony! Thank you for sharing. Also thank you for being a friend of Portugal and of our ministry.