Scripture Memorization Challenge Accepted or Hiding Scripture in Your Heart
When the elders of the South Hill Church in Spokane, Wash., launched their Scripture memory project, it set the whole church buzzing. The challenge was this: If you will learn a chapter from the Bible by heart, we will reward you with $100.
Why would we make such an offer? Weston Davis, head elder, put it this way: “Most people aren’t making Scripture memorization a priority. Maybe they just haven’t thought about it much, or maybe it just seems too hard. Our guess is most people don’t know the incredible blessing that will come from memorizing large portions of Scripture. So we wanted to give an incentive and make it fun because, yes, it is going to be hard to do.”
The rules of the challenge were simple: prayerfully choose a chapter from a power-packed list of 40 options. It should be something we did not already know. Any version was fine. Once we knew the chapter flawlessly, it was time to recite it to an elder or pastor. Only two minor errors were allowed, such as saying, “Jesus Christ” instead of “Christ Jesus.” If we didn’t quite manage it one week, we could try again later. Additional chapters were encouraged, up to a total of four per person. The challenge lasted one year.
The challenge lit a fire under young and old alike. The first day parents started sending pictures to the church office of their children pouring over their Bibles choosing the chapter they would tackle first. Within two weeks seven people were able to recite a chapter, beginning a steady stream of success that lasted the entire year.
In the final reckoning, 57 people ages 6 to 71 recited a Bible chapter. Ten people completed all four chapters, and some recited even more without the incentive. Psalms 34 and 103 were the most popular Old Testament choices, and Revelation 21 was most popular in the New Testament. Several people tackled the Sermon on the Mount. Others took on the book of Philippians. All in all, incentives were awarded for 114 chapters.
There are so many personal benefits to Scripture memorization. It is good for the brain. It can transform our lives through deeper insights and understanding. It makes us more able to encourage others and to share our faith. It fosters a deeper relationship with God as we focus on Scripture throughout the day. Our church benefited from a deeper love of Scripture and an opportunity to encourage one another toward a shared goal.
Even though the challenge has come to an end, we continue to memorize. We encourage others to do the same. You may encounter God like never before as you hide His words in your heart.
Helaina Boulieris, South Hill Church elder