One of the realities of Bible classes for kids and teens is that we expect them to master the Bible without using any of the tools they take advantage of in “regular” school. As a result, many struggle with remembering and understanding the important spiritual concepts they are being taught.
One tool you can teach your Bible students is mind mapping. It can look a bit like an art project. They can work on mind maps in pairs, small groups, or individually. Once they master it, they can use it during independent Bible study to understand and remember what they are reading.
So how does mind mapping work? Let’s take a fairly simple example, 1 Corinthians 13. Give each student a large sheet of blank paper, a pen and several markers or highlighters. Ask them to draw a circle in the middle of the page and write the word or phrase they think describes the main idea of that first part of the chapter.
“Love” should be the word in that first circle. Now ask them to draw lines or arrows from that first circle with the ideas that are tied to love in that chapter. They may have one circle that says “patient” and another that says “kind”. Encourage them to continue adding arrows and circles until they feel they have captured every idea tied to love in those verses.
Next, have them draw arrows and circles from each of those words and place ideas, words or scriptures that tie to them in some way. So for “patient”, they may have a circle that says “fruit of the Spirit” or perhaps it reminds them of Job.
This can continue out as far as you or they want to take it. While you may have to help them at first, teaching them how to use their memories and Bible aids like concordances can eventually help them make fairly large mind maps without adult assistance.
As you think about our example, it’s easy to see how mind mapping can help them connect lots of scriptures, stories and principles in the Bible that may seem very random to them at the moment. It can help them understand the overarching story of the Bible, who God is and what He wants for and from His people.
It can also make scripture passages that seem difficult much less so, as they analyze the pieces of it and realize how it connects to things they have already learned. Plus because it is visual and spatial, it can help them better remember those mind maps and the scriptures they explained.
Mind mapping will be difficult for some young people. It’s not something you would do every class, but perhaps for important passages or at the end of a unit on a particular person in the Bible. (Their name would go in that first circle.)Those who master it though may find reading and understanding the Bible is a lot easier than they realized. It’s worth taking some time to give your Bible students some guided practice in it.