You see, Friday was the finale of our summer adventure. Every summer I gather my girls and four of their neighborhood friends around my kitchen table, and we learn about becoming the person God want us to be. This summer, we focused on courage as we traveled through time learning about historical figures that showed courage. Each week the girls learned a new verse, something new about courage and something about how solving conflict takes courage. And Friday was the wrap-up day.
The finale is always big and always a scavenger hunt of some kind. The big deal this year was a trip to our local amusement park, where the girls had to show courage by riding different rides, reciting their verses and answering questions about what they had learned. They collected points for each thing they accomplished, and the prize was cold, hard cash to spend on the midway games.
So, all day Friday, my girls were busy practicing their verses. They sat down with their notebooks and reviewed their stuff. They sat down with each other and quizzed one another. They walked around muttering scripture under their breath. They were busy hiding God's word in their hearts -- willingly and with joy.
It's important for our kids to learn the word of God. When they know scripture by heart, they can use it. It becomes more than just words on a page. It becomes life-changing. I know that the verses my girls learned this summer will stick with them. When my older daughter goes off to middle school in a few weeks, she's going to need some courage -- and when she does, those verses she learned this summer will be written on her heart to remind her that God is the source of courage.
But learning scripture can become just another rote exercise our kids must complete. If we're not careful, we can turn scripture memorization into a chore that our kids hate. We can make them loathe picking up the Bible. So, how do we help our kids memorize scripture without alienating them from the joy found in God's word?
Make it fun. Scripture memory should be rewarding. It should bring joy simply from letting God's word work in our lives. But kids sometimes need a little extra incentive, so come up with ways to make scripture memory fun.
- Make a game out of it. Go around the dinner table and have everyone say a word of a verse.
- Offer incentives for scripture memory. Memorize so many verses and you get a prize.
- Use music. Our brains are wired so that we tend to retain things better when they are set to music. Plus it doesn't seem like work when you're singing a song.
Make it useful. You could make your kids memorize 12 verses from Leviticus. Those verses are in the Bible for a reason. But your six-year-old probably isn't going to understand the symbolism in the sacrifices of the Old Testament.
- Choose verses your kids can relate to. If they're struggling with a particular topic or character quality, choose verses that address it. For a great list of verses to use with your kids check out this printable.
- Start small. Don't start your scripture memory with Acts 1:8 or Malachi 3:10. Choose short verses to give your kids a sense of accomplishment. Memorization can be daunting. Set your kids up to succeed.
Include yourself. Memorize the verses with your kids. When they see you memorizing scripture as well, they will be more inclined to follow your lead. It becomes a family project instead of something else mom and dad are making them do.
If we want our kids to follow Jesus, if we want our kids to grow to be more like Him, we need to teach them the importance of knowing scripture. Hebrews 4:12 says this about the word of God: "For the word of God is alive and active. Sharper than any double-edged sword, it penetrates even to dividing soul and spirit, joints and marrow; it judges the thoughts and attitudes of the heart." We want that for our kids. We want them to judge their actions against the double-edged sword of scripture. We want them to know that God's word is alive and useful. And the only way to do that is to help them hide God's word in their hearts.
May you hear the sounds of children reciting scripture in your home soon. The sound is sweet and the rewards are many.