Challenge Your Sunday School Class to Practice the Spiritual Discipline of Scripture Memorization

Wednesday 11th February, 2009

The reason that I am investing the amount of time that I am in The Sunday School Revolutionary! is that I believe Sunday School can and should do more than it is in many churches. I believe that every person, young and old, need to be stretched to learn more, to serve more, to minister more, to connect more to God and others, and so much more. I believe that pastors, directors, and teachers are key in providing leadership for this to happen.

One area where Sunday School can do more is in scripture memorization for all ages, including adults. Back when I was in my late 20s, I attended a conference to become a certified leader of MasterLife (certification is no longer required). During the crash course week, we went through all 26 weeks of material. And we were required to make major progress in memorizing all 52 scripture passages. A few verses/passages were already known by heart, like John 3:16 and the Roman Road--learned during preparation for a Billy Graham Crusade in Nashville, Tennessee, four years earlier.

In learning the verses/passages, I used scripture memory cards. I looked at the reference and did my best to say the verse. I memorized them in order--and often one reminded me of the next. I spoke the verse/passage out loud. At times during the conference, we had to repeat our memorization to each other. We knew we were going to be tested toward the end of the conference. Accountability encouraged and challenged us. By week's end, I had committed much of the 52 passages to memory. Then teaching MasterLife many times over the next few years enabled me to reinforce my memorization. Today, it amazes my wife how many passages I can quote--though now some are in the DRSV (Darryl's revised standard version--a blending of KJV, RSV, NIV, and more!).

In my late 30s, I attended a FAITH Sunday School Evangelism Clinic (attendance at a clinic is no longer required to implement FAITH in your church). During that experience, we learned the FAITH outline which included several scripture passages. Again, some of them were familiar, but many were new. We were also required to memorize the F.A.I.T.H. outline. Then, I practiced many of the same techniques during those four days of training. And by week's end, I was able to achieve nearly 100% on my test and had a great time using what I had learned during neighborhood witnessing opportunities that night and in subsequent years.

In recent years (now in my late 40s), I have approached memorization a bit differently. I try to slow down my absorption of His Word. I often read a chapter over and over for a week. I will listen to what God is saying. I will try to focus where he leads me. And I find that frequently one or more verse will pop out. Often I have that verse memorized without trying to do so. That's what happened a couple of years ago with this passage:

We proclaim to you what we have seen and heard, so that you also may have fellowship with us. And our fellowship is with the Father and with his Son, Jesus Christ. (1 John 1:3-4, NIV)

I cannot begin to tell you how many times God has used verses that I have memorized over the years. They pop up in conversation, in sermons, in teaching Sunday School class and conferences, and even while driving down the highways here in Kentucky. I really want to encourage each of you to consider adding periodic intentional time for memorization into your lives. And lead those you shepherd to do the same. God will use this investment of Sunday School to teach you and them in many ways!

For more thoughts about memorization and generating learning through Sunday School, check out these blog posts:

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