3 strategies for how to choose a memory verse

How should I Select and Teach a Verse?

Verses! So many of them! Thirty one thousand one hundred and seventy-three in fact! How do I decide? Do I take one out of a folder of pre-printed verses and blindly stick it onto a card for memory work? Do I only teach favorite verses? How much time and thought should I give to this question?

Do we not read that "All scripture is given by inspiration of God?" In a particular word to Timothy we further read, "From a child thou hast known the holy scriptures which are able to make thee wise unto salvation through faith that is in Christ Jesus."

I am very concerned that in this pre-packaged, fast-frozen, convenience-food generation, we are getting caught up in the same atmosphere. If we only make use of certain prepared verses and neglect large segments of truth, we are losing out on much that is powerful and valuable when set in the minds of the children.

Have you and I taken stock lately? Every business must take inventory. How much more needful is the re-evaluation of teaching methods and content! What will be the result if we do not take inventory of the materials and work committed to us? Scripture answers for us, "Where no counsel (wise guidance) is, the people fall." Prov. 11:14 "Where no vision is, the people perish (cast off restraint)." Prov. 29:18.

Here are some helpful thoughts under three headings:

Truth to be Taught

Since our goal with children is to lay a good foundation, it is necessary to be careful that we include all the ingredients for a solid base on which to build for eternity. We should be diligent in teaching the truth of Godhead greatness in glory, creation, holiness, mercy, love, grace and faithfulness. This will give the children the object for their faith. To this we should add, in due time, man's creaturehood and worth, purpose and fall, sinful nature and pathway, ruin and depravity and the eternality of his being. We should also trace clearly the scriptures that speak of heaven and hell, and those which show distinctly the tri-part being of man. The truth and faithfulness of the Word of God should be constantly emphasized by prophetic fulfillment and personal experience. As the child grows and attends school, he will encounter teaching on evolution contrary to scripture. Appropriate truths should then be more fully taught to counter errors relative to creation. Truth will be needed to counter the errors of JW doctrine and the leaven of the charismatics.

Making the Meaning Clear

This is a vital point. Philip knew this well when speaking to the Ethiopian, "Understandest thou what thou readest? How can I, except some man should guide me?" Acts 8:30,31. This would clearly indicate the necessity to have the truth and doctrines we deal with clear in our own minds, as well as having the child's capability and understanding before us constantly. It is not enough simply to CHOOSE a verse. We must be sure that its intent and content is grasped. This can be aided by explanation and illustration. A verse that is confusing or difficult to the child will be much more easily forgotten than one we have carefully taught, using the lesson to illustrate its truth. For this reason it is wise to give the whole class one verse or passage to learn.

Motivating to Memorize

Children are very responsive to those who really care about them, something that they sense instinctively. How wonderful to have quick and inquisitive minds, thirsting for knowledge, into which to pour such precious truths. Start with short and meaningful scriptures. Half a verse learned well, is better than a long one forgotten. Reward with "just" praise when a child does well and don't play favorites. We can't fool children. Encourage them to learn verses perfectly. Keep your standards high, children will leap for them. Don't ever demean the gospel by praising half-heartedness or rewarding everyone or everything. After you have gained their confidence, ask them if anyone would like to learn two verses. Someone will volunteer and the idea will spread. The possibilities are endless and the reward is eternal. As the group grows older, start them on passages of scripture with special recognition or rewards. Every child by age twelve should know at least the abbreviated ten commandments, John 3:1-18, and Romans 3:10-24. Nothing has more value than the work of setting the Word of God in the hearts of these dear children.