You can teach the best Bible lessons in the world, but if your students have a hard time remembering the things God wants them to know, they will still struggle. They need to have God’s truths, commands and principles readily available in their memory when they are faced with daily choices. They will need to remember Bible stories and scriptures in order to easily share their faith.
While memorizing scripture can be part of this, there are other things the kids or teens in your Bible class will need to memorize. For some, this will seem easier than memorizing verses or large blocks of scripture. They should still be encouraged to memorize scripture, but those other things are important to store in their long term memories, too.
There are some basics of memory, you need to understand in order to help your Bible students remember everything they should know to make living a Christian life easier.
- There is a difference between short term and long term memory. Short term memory is what you use to buy the three things you need in the grocery store without a list. As soon as you leave the store, those items are forgotten. Things in long term memory can get fuzzy over time, but with the least little reminders, they come pouring in as if you just memorized them.
- Long term memory will probably help your Bible students the most with their spiritual lives. They need to have those Bible verses, God’s commands and principles and other important information permanently available in their memory. Then they can access it any time they need it.
- Moving important information into long term memory happens with repetition and meditation. Isn’t it interesting the Bible encourages us to meditate on God’s Words and read/think/talk about them constantly? God knows doing those things moves those scriptures to our long term memory, where they will be available in any circumstance.
- Retrieving things from long term memory is often accomplished most easily with cues. When God showed Noah the rainbow, He told Noah what he was to remember every time he saw it. The cross is another example of a cue that brings back a lot of the memories we have about the life and death of Jesus. Communion serves a similar function. In fact, stained glass windows were originally designed to help people who were largely illiterate remember a lot of the stories in the Bible. You can give your Bible students cues to attach to things you want them to remember. Often, suggesting they remember something each time they see a specific item or are in a particular situation gives them a cue to which they can attach the scripture, command or principle.
- Helping Bible students connect new information to something they already know can make it easier for them to move it to long term memory. You may not know when some information you are sharing from the Bible is new to one or more of your students. If you get in the habit of connecting your lessons to previous lessons and concepts in some way, you will help any student who needs those connections.
- Helping Bible students think of ways to organize the things they are learning from scripture can help them remember it later when they need it. It’s easier to recall chunks of information from long term memory than lots of individual bits of information. Helping students group Bible stories for example as Old Testament or from the books of the prophets can help them bring back large chunks of information in that category. As you teach, get in the habit of giving them a way to “file” it in their memory.
- Things are remembered better when they are associated with a personal experience. It’s why it is easier for many to remember details about art they saw in a museum or history they heard on a tour of a site than from reading books. Make the Bible come alive…remember watching is not the same as stepping into the Bible story in some way. Try to choose other activities that help students experience the story or its application principles.
- Technology is not a substitute for memory. Sure it can help, but your Bible students may not always have the time or the internet service to retrieve the knowledge of what God wants them to do in the moment. Only memory can do that.
Helping your students remember what you are teaching them from the Bible is more than just drilling them on a lot of Bible facts. It is helping them keep on their hearts and minds the things God would want for the rest of their lives.