Bible trivia. Bible bowls. Questions in Bible classes. Many of these are focused primarily on the facts of the Bible. Some have argued there is too much emphasis placed on learning the facts of the Bible and not enough time is spent helping young people understand the principles and commands behind those facts.
They believe too many Christians can name the books of the Bible, but can’t really explain how God wants them to live their lives. Critics also point out that when too much time is spent learning facts, little if any time is spent actually teaching students how to do the things God is asking them to do.
Is the criticism valid? Should we stop spending time teaching young people the facts of Bible stories or memorizing scriptures, because they can find those things when they need them on their phones in an instant? It’s actually a complex question educationally and spiritually speaking.
Knowing the facts or remembering specific scriptures is important. While your students may never be asked by someone they know how many people were on the ark with Noah, there are times when knowing facts can prove very helpful. Yes, in many cases, you can find those facts online easily. However, when you are trying to share your faith with someone, it can become very awkward to have to stop every few seconds to search for a helpful Bible passage.
Knowing the facts of the Bible and memorizing scripture can also help your students lead more godly lives. They need a working memory of God’s commands. Life sometimes requires quick responses. Your students may not be in a situation where they will take the time to look up scriptures to find out what God thinks about lying, for example. They need to know in an instant that any lie is an ungodly choice and choose to tell the truth.
The problem though comes when we teach students the Bible without teaching them to meditate on God’s Words. The Bible has many scriptures similar to Joshua 1:8 “This Book of the Law shall not depart from your mouth, but you shall meditate on it day and night, so that you may be careful to do according to all that is written in it. For then you will make your way prosperous, and then you will have good success.”
Meditation requires more time and deeper thinking skills than memorization. It requires processing all of those things Bible students are taught and thinking about how to incorporate God’s commands and principles in their own lives. It requires metacognition – being aware of their own thought process – an important skill to avoid sinning.
Meditation on God’s Words can allow the Holy Spirit to work on their hearts – leading them to making godly choices and doing those good works that point others to Him. It can also help them be more prepared and confident when they are given an opportunity to share their faith with someone.
In the end, facts and meditation should be partnered in the learning process for Bible students. Each contributes to helping students build stronger faith foundations and grow to their godly potential. The answer lies in finding that balance in your Bible classes – teaching facts, but also providing guided meditation to teach students how to think more deeply about scripture. Then encouraging them to use those facts and insights from their time meditating on God’s Words to live the life God created them to live.