As Christians, we share a passionate love and a high regard for God’s Word. We gather regularly to listen to sermons that explain Bible principles. We recognize the value of spending time in personal study of Scripture to better know and follow God. We make great efforts to teach God’s Word to our children. And we memorize Scripture—hiding it in our hearts—to deepen our understanding and our faith.
But for many of us, and especially for children, memorization is the most dreaded part of Bible study. While none of us would doubt the value of being so familiar with the Bible that we can quote from it, many Christians aren’t so sure about the value of the methods traditionally used to memorize Scripture. To many, Scripture memory seems boring—a meaningless, ineffective, rote process that turns people, especially children, away from the church and away from God.
In too many cases, Bible memory work becomes a competition between children, a divisive force that creates enemies ready to one-up each other instead of the encouraging, loving, tightknit body God wants. In too many churches, Bible memory becomes a test for children, who must prove they can recite a verse perfectly before they’re allowed to participate in the fun. And too often memorizing God’s Word becomes not a way to know and love God, but a way to obtain a prize whether it be a toy, a shiny ribbon, or a new Bible.
None of these experiences foster a deep love for Scripture or an understanding of God. And most of the time, these "learning" experiences don’t even give the results they were intended for. While children may memorize a verse, they don’t understand what the verse means and they can’t apply it to their lives. Plus, very few children remember their memory verse for extended periods of time. In fact, most children would be hard-pressed to remember even two...