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Three siblings reading the Bible and practicing Bible memory.
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Bible Memory That Goes From the Head to the Heart

What do you envision when you hear the words “Bible memory?” You may picture a Bible verse on the fridge that parents work on with kids at home. Or perhaps you see a Bible memorization plan you’ve established for kids in you church. For years, my view of Bible memory focused on remembering individual verses from the Bible. But now I’m realizing that Bible memory is so much more!

Bible Memory: A Bigger Perspective

Let’s step back and see a bigger picture: The goal of Bible memory isn’t knowing the right words from the Bible, it’s knowing the Word—Jesus! As children’s ministry leaders, we want to help kids understand how the words in the Bible ultimately point to Jesus and his love for them. Those words have power for their lives today, not someday in the future.

That means our definition of Bible memory needs to go beyond repeating a few key verses. Every Jesus-centered, memorable thing we do in children’s ministry is Bible memory!  “Bible memory” is truth from the Bible that takes root and deepens kids’ friendship with Jesus.

With this new perspective, we see that Bible memory is so much bigger than a gold star on a chart. Bible memory is woven throughout the fabric of every lesson, every song, every game, every question asked, every thought shared, and every video played. Our time with kids needs to be filled with memorable truth from the Bible that helps kids—and leaders—know Jesus better.

As children’s ministry leaders, our job is more than encouraging kids and families to remember sentences from the Bible in case they need it someday. Instead, we get to help kids and families remember Jesus throughout everyday life right now!

That’s Bible memory that goes from the head to the heart.

In order for Bible memory to go from the head to the heart, we need a new methodology to help us see the big picture. This methodology truly honors kids and their friendship with Jesus. This new methodology…

  1. Requires repetition
  2. Mixes in movement
  3. Makes visual connections

Bible Memory Requires Repetition

Psalm 119:97 says, “Oh how I love your instructions. I think of them all day long!”

If we want Bible memory to go from the head to the heart, we need to repeat truth from the Bible over and over again—all day, or all lesson long!

You may have heard that kids get bored if you repeat something they’ve heard before. But, actually, kids appreciate routine and repetition because they help kids master new things.

Remember, less is more.

Bible memory goes from kids’ heads to their hearts when we repeat fewer Bible verses more often. Less is more!

Instead of introducing a new memory verse each week, consider repeating one Bible verse each week for a month.

Repeat and explain verses.

Bible memory goes from the head to the heart when we always repeat and explain verses in a kid-friendly way. Here’s why that’s so important.

Did you know that most Bible translations are written above a fourth grade reading level? Check out this chart with helpful info from You’ll see translations and their generally accepted grade levels.

Even the easiest to understand translations aren’t written with preschool, kindergarten, and lower elementary kids in mind. If we want to teach truths from the Bible that deepen a friendship with Jesus, we need to help kids understand what the big words in this big book mean.

Remember Philip and the Ethiopian in the book of Acts? The Ethiopian was reading Scripture, but he didn’t understand what the words meant. He needed someone to help him! Thankfully God sent Philip to explain things to him.

Friends, you are that person for the kids you lead. Kids won’t automatically understand all these words. They need your help!

Bible Memory Mixes in Movement

“I will pursue your commands, for you expand my understanding.” (Psalm 119:32)

To “pursue” means to go after or to move toward something. In addition to repeating Bible memory verses, we need to help kids pursue it, not just with their minds, but with their bodies, too. You see, movement is physically and spiritually good for children!

When kids are up and moving, they have increased blood flow and oxygen to the brain. Active learning makes their brains work better!

Just like a cellphone needs to be charged up to work well, kids’ brains need to be charged up to learn well. Oxygen flowing to the brain acts like a charger, giving it the power needed to learn more efficiently.

Repetition and movement work hand in hand to help kids discover truth from the Bible that helps them know Jesus more. Consider these two simple ideas that get kids moving!

Add gestures.

First, add gestures! Adding meaningful gestures is a little thing that can make a big difference. For example:

“Anyone who listens to my teaching (cup hand behind ear)

and follows it (march in place)

is wise, (touch head with index finger)

like a person who builds a house (alternate fists on top of each other as if building)

on solid rock.” (firmly place fist on top of the other)

(Matthew 7:24)

Some researchers wanted to know if gestures really help people remember more of what they say. So they did a study to find out. They discovered that it’s true! Gestures help to make memories that last. The study showed that people may remember what they say aloud. But they’re more likely to remember what they say aloud when they move as they say it! Isn’t that cool?

Adding simple movements when sharing God’s Word helps kids remember the verse longer, and helps you explain what the words mean.

Play games.

Secondly, play games! As leaders, we know that movement is good for kids. But we often compartmentalize physical activity and play from learning. But for kids, play is learning! Games aren’t just for gym class or for after the Bible lesson is over. Games are a key part of Bible memory!

Educator and coach Eric Jenson said this, “Active learning is not just for physical education teachers—that notion is outdated. Active learning is for educators who understand the science behind learning.”

Does your Bible lesson include meaningful physical activity? Think beyond racing to put Bible verse words in order. Consider activities that connect to the heart of Scripture. Look for games that reinforce the meaning of the passage.

A good curriculum is packed with games and experiences that help Bible learning stick. For example, each DIG IN lesson features low-energy and high-energy game activity blocks that supports each lesson’s Bible point. And Simply Loved lessons get kids up and moving through interactive skits that help tell the Bible story each week.

Bible Memory Makes Visual Connections

Psalm 119:18 says,

“Open my eyes to see the wonderful truths in your instructions.”

When we pray this prayer with the psalmist, we’re asking God to help us see and understand what God’s way looks like. Then we can recognize what it looks like to know Jesus in a meaningful way.

Visual connections aren’t about words. They’re visual examples that help us understand Scripture. And Bible memory that goes from the head to the heart helps kids recognize what a friendship with Jesus looks like in everyday life. Here are a couple of ways visual connections can help Bible memory go from the head to the heart.

Connect to a character.

Group VBS and Simply Loved Sunday school introduce kids to Bible Memory Buddies. Bible Memory Buddies are animals God made, who can help kids marvel at their amazing Creator.

Memory cues like Bible Memory Buddies help kids retain information and grow understanding. Seeing a strong and mighty brown bear reminds kids of our strong and mighty God (Psalm 94:22)! Seeing a giraffe’s long neck can help them visualize “how wide, how long, how high, and how deep God’s love is.” (Ephesians 3:18) Or an owl’s heart-shaped face can remind kids that God loved the world so much, he sent his only Son. (John 3:16)

Kids’ hearts become connected to these lovable friends—and to the God who made the Bible Memory Buddy and the kids in an amazing way.

Connect to Bible story images.

Bible story images enable kids to visualize stories in the Bible. As you tell Bible stories, invite kids to interact with Bible story art.

Next time you teach, try asking kids these questions as you look at Bible art together. You’ll be surprised by the depth of kids answers, and their responses will help you discern how much their hearts are connecting to the story being told.

  • If you were in this scene, what would you be doing? Tell me about that.
  • How would your face look?
  • Which person do you most connect with? Why?

Bible Memory Matters

Repetition, movement, and visual connections all help God’s Word go from kids’ heads to their hearts. This new Bible memory methodology is grounded in the belief that even if kids don’t recite every word perfectly, understanding and internalizing Scripture still speaks to their hearts. God’s Word is bigger than our ability to recall words. Its truth helps people know Jesus more—including you and me.

Want more Bible teaching tips and ideas? Check out this article about sending children the right message about the Bible. And for more leader resources, check out these posts!

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