In the church I grew up in, we spent quite some time memorizing Bible verses. We always had vacation Bible weeks for kids where we were taught one or more verses, we did the same every Sunday in Sunday school and even the teen ministry gave it a shot.
But after that, I didn’t devote much attention or time to memorizing Scripture. In the last few years however, I’ve become more and more convinced of the importance of knowing verses, passages and maybe even whole chapters or books from the Bible by head.
If you want to know the many benefits of memorizing Scripture, I refer you to this excellent post (with very inspiring quotes) by John Piper and a more recent one from Sermon Central. I’m convinced that memorizing Scripture is a very important part of discipling our young people and I’d love to do more of this in youth ministry.
Creative ways to memorize Scripture
Last weekend I was at a weekend for young adults, where I taught on spiritual disciplines. One of the things I wanted them to try was memorizing Scripture and so we practiced as a group with a verse from Psalm 84, a verse from James and in their quiet time they had to memorize one verse of Psalm 119. We talked about some creative ways to memorize Scripture and I want to share some of these ideas with you so that you can use them for yourself or in your youth ministry:
Use your senses
Use as many of your senses as you can when memorizing: so listen to the words spoken out loud, speak them yourself and write them down as well.
For many people, writing down the verses on index cards helps. You can easily review ‘your’ verses daily and keep practicing. But don’t automatically use boring white index cards. Make use of colors (pencils, crayons, go wild!) to identify the Bible books or types of books. Use blue for instance for the Psalms, red for the Gospels, Black for the prophets, etc.
I memorized Psalm 119:11 (“Your word I have hidden in my heart, that I may not sin against You”) with someone else by making appropriate gestures: pointing upwards at ‘Your’, making a gesture for a book at ‘words’, pointing towards our hearts, etc. It’s remarkable how gestures help you remember what comes next.
Make a song
You can also use music, by composing a short song of your verse(s). Obviously, this won’t work well with all types of verses, but could be very effective with the Psalms for instance.
When memorizing, using rhythm is also a good technique to help your brain remember the words. I took Greek in high school and learned whole portions of the Iliad this way, by reciting them in the rhythm they were written in. That may not be so easy with the Bible, but certain books and passages (like Proverbs and the Psalms for instance – two popular books to memorize) will work very well.
Find silly acronyms
I came across this hilarious acronym to remember Romans 8:25: ‘The Handsome Prince Found Nine Dead Snakes’ (trouble, hardship, persecution, famine, nakedness, danger, sword). With longer passages especially or with lists of things (gifts, fruits of the Spirit, woes, etc), acronyms will work very well. The sillier the better actually.
You can draw pictures, doodles, Mindmaps, lines or whatever you want to help you memorize verses. If you are someone with a visual learning style, make use of the way your brain is wired. It can help for instance to make your index cards visually attractive, by using colors, pictures, bold/italics etc to help you create a vivid picture of your verse.
Find a partner
As with many things, doing it together is much easier and more fun than going it alone. Try to find a partner who shares this goal and help and encourage each other.
Memorizing Scripture to the extreme
Some take memorizing Scripture even further. Tom Meyer for instance is a man on a mission: to convince churches of the power of the memorized word. He knows entire books of the Bible by heart, including Revelation and Genesis. His ministry is called Wordsower and he visits churches to recite the Bible with passion and conviction, all from memory. Tom Meyer’s approach to memorization is to listen to an audio Bible, read it out loud himself and then write down the verses verse by verse. Here’s a really cool video of him reciting Revelations:
Do you memorize Scripture in your youth ministry or personally? How do you go about this? Please share any other creative ideas you have!