Scripture Memory: For All Ages

Scripture Memory for All AgesIn a previous post we looked at how memorizing Scripture is a powerful tool in our walk with God. Look back at the verses used in that post and you will find that the verses have no age for beginning to memorize nor an ending age attached to them. From the youngest among us to the oldest, we all can benefit from having Scripture memorized.

from infancy you have known the Holy Scriptures, which are able to make you wise for salvation through faith in Christ Jesus. (2 Tim. 3:15)

Age Appropriate Considerations in Scripture Memory:

1) Think about the length of the verse.

The younger the age, the shorter the length of the verse should be. Preschoolers might only memorize a phrase from a verse as long as it is meaningful.

2) Think about the relevancy of the verse’s content.

Due to life experiences and age level developmental needs at the various ages, certain verses are better for the different ages.

You will find a number of posts on the Train Bible Teachers Blog with verses that fit the different age level brackets. Click on the ages below that fit you or the age you serve.

Preschoolers
Grade School Children
Teenagers
Young Adults
Middle Aged Adults
Senior Adults

All Ages Will Memorize Scripture Similarly:

  • Repetition is required to memorize and retain what has been learned regardless of your age.
  • Using a variety of means can be beneficial in memorizing Bible verses at all ages.

You will find more tips for Bible teachers in this worksheet: Effective Scripture Memorization Requires Getting Beyond

Just a Nursery Worker? Ouch!

Nursery Baby

Having had to do a lot of recruiting when I worked in a church, I am well aware of common attitudes toward being a nursery worker. For some it was an easy way to get involved … just babysitting. For others it was viewed as a hardship … they did their time and didn’t want to be stuck in the nursery.

I quickly picked up on three hurtful perceptions about being a nursery worker that needed to be overcome:

1) These young children were not seen as an important age group to serve. Ouch!

Babies can’t learn the Bible, it is argued, so they aren’t an important age to invest into ministry-wise.

Here’s why this perception is hurtful:

  • Infants and toddlers are not too young to learn. They might not be able to do an exegetic study of a Bible verse but they are getting a sense of the kind of God we have and how good it is to be a part of His Church. Why wouldn’t we want to be strategic in making sure they are getting the right impressions?
  • Jesus thought little children were valuable enough to take time for them out of His busy schedule (Matt. 19:13-15). If Jesus viewed them as precious and in need of His touch, why wouldn’t we feel the same today? Some of the attitudes toward serving in the nursery must grieve His heart.

Let’s value infants and toddlers in the Church. Let’s invest not only our time and effort into training these young ones but also our hearts.

2) Being a nursery worker was not seen as an important role to fill. Ouch!

Change a few diapers, play with them a little, feed them a bottle, and put them down for a nap. That doesn’t sound like ministry, some might think, just care-taking.

In part, I believe people feel this way because they don’t understand the role they can have. They view themselves as babysitters, someone to free the parents up to attend classes or services. Even if that is all that’s to it, they would have an important role to fill.

But, nursery workers have a much more important role than that if they see themselves as foundation builders who prepare children for what is to come, affecting their attitudes toward God and His Church. Laying a foundation is extremely important as seen in the construction of a building. Jesus told a parable contrasting the effects of a storm on an edifice built on a firm foundation and one that was not (Matt. 7:24-27).

Lest you think being a foundation builder isn’t important, take a look at Scripture. God’s “own hand laid the foundations of the earth” (Isa. 48:13). The Church was built on a foundation (Eph. 2:19-22). Our future home, the heavenly city, is built on a foundation (Heb. 11:10; Rev. 21:14,19). If God views foundation building as critical, why wouldn’t we see the potential of this kind of role in the nursery as important?

Let’s expect more than mere babysitting. Let’s elevate the role of being in the nursery to true ministry.

3) Serving in the nursery merely fills an immediate need. Ouch!

Somebody has to do it so we don’t have crying babies in the worship service, right? Parents need to go to their own classes so somebody needs to take care of their children, right? While nursery workers do fill an immediate need, this motivation for working in the nursery is hurtful because it is so short-sighted.

As we’ve already seen, nursery workers have the potential of laying a good foundation in the lives of these children which can affect their future relationship with God and His Church. Think of John the Baptist who had the important ministry of preparing the way for the Lord Jesus. He was not the Savior but was used by God to develop pliable hearts ready to be introduced to the One who would save them.

The foundation laid in the nursery will be built upon by teachers to whose classes these young children will eventually be promoted. It’s a similar concept to what we read 1 Corinthians 3:10 — “By the grace God has given me, I laid a foundation as a wise builder, and someone else is building on it. But each one should build with care.”

Let’s approach the nursery with a view to the future. Let’s “build with care” and lay the foundation in these young lives “as a wise builder.”

Classroom Discipline Must Get Beyond

Classroom discipline, as well as disciplining in the home, needs to get . . .

  • beyond merely telling them what to do to solving the problem together
  • beyond merely stopping the misbehavior to helping them become who they should be
  • beyond merely dealing with symptoms to getting to the core of the issue
  • beyond merely confronting the individual to protecting him/her and others from harm (physical, social, psychological, emotional, etc.)

To get beyond, you must have the right focus, purpose, and pursuit in disciplining:

Dignity must be guarded by avoiding tactics that ridicule, demean, or put them down.

Involvement in establishing rules and consequences must be sought to bring a greater sense of ownership.

Spirit of God must be at work to provide motivation and enablement to do good.

Character development must be essential so they become who they should “be” in Christ, not just “do” the right things.

Intrinsic Motivation must be the long-range objective, not mere outward conformity.

Peer Relationships must be protected by dealing with most issues privately as social acceptance and belonging are important.

Learning must be the goal requiring a conducive environment and an instructive purpose in disciplining.

Importance of the individual must be stressed which can eliminate much attention-getting behavior.

Needs must be met which requires discerning the core issues as needs usually motivate behavior.

Expectations must be communicated leaving them without excuse in bearing responsibility for their choices.

Learn more in the Handbook on the Basics of Classroom Discipline.

Does your children’s class have the BLAs?

To teach the Bible effectively to children, classes need a good dose of the BLAs.  What??

NOT the BLAs that come from a boring, dull class with a teacher stuck in a rut where students passively sit and listen or find other inappropriate ways of keeping awake or amusing themselves.

BUT, the BLAs that are experienced in an active, enthusiastic class learning from God’s Word in ways that get students involved  — Bible Learning Activities.

Why Use BLAs (Bible Learning Activities)

  1. Because of the way God created people to learn through their senses
  2. Because people learn best and retain more when actively involved in the learning process

While all ages would benefit from this kind of instruction, children particularly need lessons that allow them to do something, to explore and discover.

How to Use BLAs (Bible Learning Activities)

– Always having a purpose for the activities you use.

– Use a variety of activities.

– Give students choices when possible.

– Turn some of the planning of activities over to students if appropriate.

– Use guided conversation with students as they do the activities.

– Don’t limit Bible Learning Activities to acquiring knowledge but also use them in practicing life application.

What Kind of BLAs to Use

You will now find a resource in the MinTools.com store called Bible Learning Activities for Children.  This resource provides a one page handout on each of the following types of of activities. The pages can be ordered separately but cost less bundled which you will see if you click on the above link.

Books
Crafts
Dramatic Play
Games
Manipulatives (blocks, puzzles, other)
Media
Music
Pictures

Depending on how they are used, these activities can enable students to research in order to gain new knowledge or to have what has already been learned reinforced.

Each handout looks at why this activity is good to use, how to choose specific means within that method, what you need to remember when using it, and how to expand its use.

What To Do About a Mid-Week Children’s Program

What to do about a mid-week children's program?Sometimes the best way to help people is to answer their questions with questions.

That is what I did when I was asked about planning a mid-week children’s program.

Basic questions that need to be asked are:

1)  What is your purpose?

Notice I asked what your purpose “is” not what it should be.  Be honest because your actions and attitudes will eventually betray or underscore what “is.”

If your purpose is no greater than having something to do with the children while adults are meeting, you will find little motivation to put much into a mid-week program.  When babysitting or crowd control become objectives, even though it might not be communicated that way, it is easy to take an “anything will do” approach.

If, however, your purpose is truly to utilize all the opportunities you have to reach children for Jesus and to help disciple them to love and follow the Lord, you will be energized to make it the best you can with the resources you have.

Of course, the second “if” above is more in line with what your purpose should be.  What can you do to work toward a more impacting purpose?

2)  What structure will best accomplish that purpose and fit your situation? 

Structure should be an outgrowth of your purpose and realistically guided by your resources … available teachers/workers, time, facilities, etc.

If you adapt a structure simply because it is a pre-fab plan and easy to use, you might be missing the mark on what God wants to do in and through you.

If you tailor a structure that best meets your needs, you will have more potential of lining up with God’s desires and intent to work in and through you.

Of course, this doesn’t mean you can’t use somebody else’s plan or structure.  Nor does it mean that you must start from scratch and “reinvent the wheel.”  What it does mean is that you will invest much prayer and objective assessment into it.  If a pre-fab program best fits your purpose and resources, then that is what should be used.  Or, perhaps you will need to take an existing program and make some tweaks.  Maybe you will need to develop your own plan but if that is the case, then God will provide the person(s) equipped to do so.

3)  What curriculum will fit the structure?

Often the pre-fab programs mentioned under the second question above come with the curriculum for you to use.  I am listing this as a separate question, however, because too often we let the curriculum determine the structure.

If you let the curriculum determine the structure then you might find yourself frustrated as you try to make something work that doesn’t fit your resources.

If you let the structure determine the curriculum then you should be doing something that works for your situation.

A mid-week program should be a little more fun and fast-moving than a typical Sunday School or Children’s Church program.  Some churches have used Sunday School or Children’s Church curriculum for their mid-week program but if not careful, it can feel too much like school for the kids which they have been in all day prior to going to church on Wednesday evening.

Some churches use curriculum from publishing companies that use a large/small group approach.  You would need less high commitment – preparation teachers and more lower commitment – preparation small group leaders.

Some churches use VBS curriculum, using a lesson per week.  Often these types of curriculum rotate children through a number of learning stations.

The question is: What type of curriculum will best fit your purpose, the structure that grows out of it, and works with your situation?

From there it is a matter of implementation — ordering materials, recruiting teachers and workers, training them, scheduling, organizing, etc.

Can Children Really Learn the Bible?

The Bible is an adult book, written in adult language with adult concepts.  Some therefore question if you can really teach the Bible to children, especially young children.

The Apostle Paul answers that question in his words to Timothy:
“… from infancy you have known the holy Scriptures, which are able to make you wise for salvation through faith in Christ Jesus.” (2 Tim. 3:15)

Paul goes on to in the very next verse to provide the ways God’s Word helps us.

All Scripture is God-breathed and is useful for teaching, rebuking, correcting and training in righteousness, so that the man of God may be thoroughly equipped for every good work.  (2 Tim. 3:16-17)

What better source to teach, rebuke, correct, and train children than the Bible.  The words of Scripture carry more authority and power than anything a parent or teacher can communicate.

The question is not “if” children
can learn the Bible but HOW.

The new PowerPoint presentation, Teaching the Bible to Children, helps you know “how.”   Be sure to check it out because children really can learn the Bible!