Tips and Tricks
Moving from Memorization to Meditation
Jessie, a fourth-grader, knows the difference between memorizing a verse and learning a verse.
When her Good News Club teachers asked Jessie why Christian children should learn God’s Word her response was, “You don’t want us to memorize verses just because. You want us to learn verses so they help us live the way we should. If a verse is in our hearts it helps us know how to handle our problems God’s way.”
Jessie knows that Scripture is active and personal. It is useful for teaching, rebuking, correcting and training in righteousness (2 Tim. 3:16). When kids experience these applications for themselves, memorizing takes on a new meaning. Moving from memorization to meditation is a key transition in helping kids see the purpose and power of God’s Word.
Meditation is the process of focusing on a verse with the intent of understanding it more fully. Greater understanding leads to personal application. The following ten steps have proven effective in helping children meditate on God’s Word. Before teaching this process to your class be sure to become familiar with it yourself.
- Type the verse with enough space between each line to add markings in succeeding steps. (Also have verse on chalkboard or white board.)
- Read the verses before and after the memory verse in the Bible. Note if the verse is a complete sentence in itself or part of a larger sentence that includes other verses. Always keep the verse in the context of the verses that surround it. Know the book’s author and intended audience. The more you know about the circumstances of the passage, the better you will be able to teach it.
- Circle every word in the verse that names God directly or indirectly. The children should know the verse is not your words but God’s. Take time to show how God is at work in the verse. Better yet, let the children show you.
- Underline words that can be personalized. Reread the verse, substituting your name. Children will be excited when they realize the verse is a special message to them from God.
- Box any phrases or words children may not understand. This step will help you explain the verse. Once you have identified the words, take a few minutes to think through them. Read through several other trusted versions at this point. This process can provide insight into the more difficult words. Other helpful resources include a concordance, Bible dictionary or commentary. Write brief definitions for your students.
- Now examine the verse from a devotional point of view; put on your spiritual “specs” and look for:
- S—a sin to forsake (action to avoid).
- P—a promise to claim (promise God has given).
- E—an example to follow (character who is a good example to follow).
- C—a command to obey (rule God expects you to obey—do it!).
- S—special information (useful fact or spiritual insight God wants you to know).
- Think of at least five questions to ask the children. Use the questions to make sure they understand the verse. Phrase the questions so the answers are words from the verse itself. Be careful as you formulate your questions; they are not meant to interpret the verse but to help the children think through the meaning. With guidance, let fifth and sixth graders ask questions on a verse. They will learn and have fun at the same time.
- Ask the Lord to help you see how children could apply the verse to their lives. Think of a specific situation. Teach the children in advance how to use the verse when such a situation arises. Then they will be ready with a response like Jesus was during His temptation.
- Encourage the children to write or say a prayer using the verse.
- By now your class is very familiar with the Bible verse. Give each one an opportunity to quote it. Making a Bible verse meaningful takes work; however, the rewards are tremendous. The bottom line is that you and your students will move from memorizing to meditating on God’s Word and living it out every day.
Verse Visuals that Teach
Visual Idea for Steps #3 and #4: Use a pocket chart and print each word or phrase of the verse on colored cards. Use yellow cards for the words that represent God, pink for words that can be personalized and a third color for the rest of the verse.
Visual Idea for Step #7: Attach cards from previous idea to a poster with reusable adhesive. If your verse is John 3:16 ask, “What did God love?” A child who knows the answer should remove the words the world. Then you might ask, “What did God give?” and a child would remove His one and only Son. Others questions include, “Who can have eternal life?” (Whoever believes in Him.) “What is the opposite of eternal life?” (Perish.) “What does God want us to have?” (Eternal life.)
Learn More about Good News Clubs
Find out what a Good News Club is and how you can get involved.