One of my fondest memories of church camp was a special cabin mom whom I can still remember chanting this verse with us: “God is faithful, He will not allow you to be tempted beyond what you can bear. But with the temptation, will provide a way of escape ALSo that you may be able to endure it. I Corinthians 10:13” I remember the whole verse, and every inflection of the chant because she came back as our cabin Mom for several years and never failed to have our cabin chant along. That’s a pretty cool verse to remember for 25 years. To this day, chanting verses together is how I start with every verse. In fact, it is not uncommon to hear all seven of us in the car on the way to AWANA, chanting verses together for the little ones.
Scripture Memory Should Start When Your Children are Little.
As I look back on those years in church camp, I also remember blasting through those memory verse challenge papers by the first of the week. Memorizing was so easy back then! Sometimes, my leaders would come up with more verses for me to memorize, and sometimes they would just roll their eyes at me and try to encourage others to memorize at least one verse. I remember one team leader in particular who looked me in the eye and said “We don’t need any more team points, just start memorizing whatever you want.” That was the year I memorized almost the whole chapter of Song of Solomon before she came to her senses and assigned me more appropriate material for an eleven-year-old. I was a bit of a smart-alec.
Scripture Memory Assignments Should Challenge your Kids.
How I wish those leaders had taken my unspoken challenge! Do you know how much I could have memorized as a ten, eleven or twelve year old with the right incentives? That’s what I want to provide for my kids. Because in spite of the incentives, those verses I memorized when I was young are the ones most ingrained onto my heart and readily on my tongue today. Children memorize more easily then we do as adults! Not all of my children are gifted equally with natural memorization skills, but they can all memorize Scripture and the skills can be taught.
I try to look at what they are working on individually and challenge them right where they are. I ask my oldest son to finish his AWANA book and all of the extra verses, I ask my middle daughter to finish her AWANA book, I ask my seven-year-old to work on his next verse. This year, I am asking my oldest daughter to complete Phillipians in 28 Weeks in addition to AWANA. My goal is to make sure each of them is challenged.
Back when we first started attending AWANA, my oldest daughter was seven and my oldest son was five. Memorizing came so very naturally to my son. After teaching himself to read at age four, memorizing seemed like breathing to him. For my daughter, memorizing was more of a struggle. The material at AWANA was simple enough in the beginning that things didn’t really come to a head until she hit the Truth in Training years. That first year of Truth and Training — Oh My Goodness. We had tears, and more tears, and even more tears. That is probably the hardest and most pivotal year of AWANA and probably the point at which most children drop out.
Scripture Memory Techniques Will Help.
Towards December, my daughter finally told me what her beloved AWANA leader had said the third or fourth week into the year when Clara was still working hard and keeping up. “Clara, you can’t really do this many verses a week. You won’t be able to do it! You need to slow down.” What that well-meaning teenager said was not very helpful. It took me another two months to convince Clara that I was right (You can do it!) and her AWANA leader was wrong — “I can’t memorize as well as you Mom.”
I had to convince her that she was doing very well before she stopped trying. That left her about two months to make up for lost time and finish her book. Which she did. After that intense period of work — during which we learned quite a few memorization techniques together — she suddenly realized that she could indeed memorize Scripture. “It’s so easy now, Mom!” she would exclaim. It doesn’t do much good to tell your child she can do it — you need to show her and empower her how to succeed.
The Atmosphere of your Home Should Encourage Scripture Memory.
I am at that point right now with my current seven-year-old. Memory work is such a struggle! He is not a strong reader yet and needs my help every step of the way. This year, we begin a Scripture Memory Intensive. My goal is that by the end of the year, he will know that He Can Do It! Because the next year will be his pivotal year. The coolest thing about it is his attitude. He wants to memorize Scripture. I think that’s because we work together so much as a family. I encourage each child individually, and we encourage each other as a family. We work together and the older children help the younger children with verses. We chant verses in the car, sing verses with cds, and copy verses for handwriting. We reward verses with high fives, hugs, extra attention from Daddy, and sometimes even ice cream. The overall atmosphere of our home is one that encourages Scripture Memory not just as an activity, but also as a value.
In my first post of this series, I talked about Why you should memorize Scripture in your home. A guest post from Stacy Farrell yesterday evening was all about Becoming Walking Epistles for Christ. Today’s post is about creating a training atmosphere. To summarize: