Teaching the Memory Verse

Teaching the memory verse is an important component of your children's church ministry and deserves a priority spot in the schedule. The whole purpose of our ministry (although we forget sometimes!) is to instill God's Word into children's hearts, ultimately winning them to Jesus Christ and discipling them in Christian growth. Psalm 119:11 offers the promise, "Thy word have I hid in mine heart, that I might not sin against thee." The memorization of scripture will do your kids a world of good, and you should desire to equip them with this power.

There are a variety of ways to ensure that the kids in your children's church ministry learn their memory verse. You will want to rotate some of the methods and use others on a very consistent basis.

For starters, we teach the memory verse weekly using the IPEAR method from CEF.

INTRODUCTION -- Find a smooth way to transition to the memory verse from the component immediately before it on the schedule. This should not be difficult, as each component will tie in with your main teaching. The most popular way to do this is with a question: "Have you ever been afraid?" for the verse "For God hath not given us the spirit of fear..." Or you can use a very short illustration: "Once I was tempted to steal a package of gum from WalMart, and it was like a voice popped into my head telling me, 'Thou shalt not steal'..." for a verse about the Holy Spirit or Psalm 119:11.

PRESENTATION -- Always read the verse to the kids first from its original source: the Word of God. Better yet, have an older student come forward and read it from his Bible (or yours). This will assure the kids of the memory verse's authenticity. As you do so, utilize a visual aid containing the verse printed in a large font for the entire group to see. This can be on a flashcard, chalk or marker board, overhead transparency, or Power Point.

EXPLANATION -- There are few verses from the Bible that your students are going to immediately understand without you providing a brief and simple explanation. Try to put it on their level, and of course use vocabulary that they will understand.

APPLICATION -- In a nutshell, tell the kids how this verse is going to help them in their lives. If it is a commandment, tell them how they are to obey it and why. If it is a promise, remind them that God never goes back on His Word. Show them point blank what this verse should be to them.

REVIEW -- Review, review, review -- that's the name of the game in children's church! We review everything so that it will "stick" -- the main teaching, the songs, the lesson... but most of all, the Word of God. We use simple little memory verse games that the kids enjoy and allow us to drill the scripture about a dozen times without getting boring.

I also use scripture songs whenever possible because the kids seem to remember a verse about a hundred times better when it is accompanied by a catchy tune. If I don't know a scripture song to go with a particular memory verse, I often make up my own. As a matter of fact, we recently recorded a CD (using the church sound system) of me singing and playing Bible verse songs for half an hour. We are giving out copies to all of our children's church kids next Sunday. There is also a great CD with 26 scripture songs for only $5.00 here.

Aside from the time allotted in your schedule for teaching the memory verse, we also like to provide another means to help them remember: a memory verse token of some type. Occasionally I print a bulletin containing games, announcements, and the verse that we're working on. Sometimes I give them a laminated bookmark or similiar, and for next week's verse I've created a door hanger with the entire Ten Commandments (we are currently doing one per week). An incentive is sometimes offered for learning the verse(s). For example, if they learn all ten of the commandments, they will earn a Hershey's S'mores candy bar and a pack of gummy frogs. Typically, however, I just print out a simple memory verse token onto colored paper or cardstock. I use a business card template or, for a really long verse, a postcard template.

By the way, if we are teaching a longer verse or passage of verses, we usually work on it for a couple of weeks to a month. It's better to have a verse stick in their heads and hearts than to whiz through new verses every week that they never truly learn. Last summer during our "Fun in the Son" campaign, we only worked on 1 John 5:11-13 all summer long. I think they still remember it.

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