Assemblies of God SearchSite GuideStoreContact Us
Evangelism, Worship, Discipleship & Compassion

News RSS Feed

Audio News Reports

Assemblies of God News

Memory verses for grown-ups: Benefits of Bible memorization

Fri, 14 Sep 2007 - 4:05 PM CST

For generations, memory verses have been a staple of children's Sunday School lessons. But bring up the subject of memorizing Scripture in a roomful of adults, and it may be a conversation killer.

Many churchgoers today don't even read the Bible, let alone commit passages to memory. The Barna Group reports that 47 percent of U.S. adults attend church each week. Meanwhile, a Boston University researcher found 60 percent of Americans can't name five of the Ten Commandments, and half of high school seniors think Sodom and Gomorrah were a married couple, not twin cities destroyed for wickedness.

In spite of the dismal statistics, there are still those who are serious about studying Scripture - so serious, in fact, they may use time spent stuck in traffic or sitting in a doctor's waiting room learning verses.

Gary Smart, who attends First Christian Assembly of God in Cincinnati, became interested in committing Scripture to memory three years ago while helping his daughter learn a verse for the church's Stars Club. He was surprised how the verse stuck with him and reminded him of God's presence throughout the day. Since that time, he has made an effort to memorize Bible passages on a regular basis.

"I wasn't raised in a Scripture-memorizing church, so I didn't have that benefit for many years," Smart says. "Now, I feel like knowing God's Word gives me a foundation to stand on. I often think of the verses I've learned and even use them to encourage others."

Fred Gore, Junior Bible Quiz coordinator for the Southern Missouri District, earned his JBQ Master Seal while guiding his three sons through the program. To do so, he memorized all 107 JBQ Bible quotations in addition to the other Bible-related material. Gore says the benefits of Bible memorization don't just apply to kids.

"The process of repeating a passage over and over causes me to meditate on it more and really want to dig in to the Scripture to understand it better, especially some of Scripture's great passages," Gore says. "Scripture memorization for me has been like a spark that's grabbed my heart and spurred me on to some really in-depth study of the Word."

Brian King, JBQ coordinator for the North Carolina District and Southeast Region, agrees that Scripture memorization shouldn't cease at adulthood. King recently earned his Impossible Award, the program's highest honor, by reciting all 576 JBQ questions and answers. The award is usually given to children, but King says he recognized the value of learning the material himself.

"I believe the Bible is what it purports to be, and trust that God still honors obedience and faith," King says. "Therefore, it behooves me to spend time learning and practicing the Word in my life. If it really is God's Word, how could I not read, study and memorize it?"

There are a few ministries that specialize in adult Bible memorization, such as The Navigators, an interdenominational organization based in Colorado Springs, Colorado. The organization promotes a topical card system to help users memorize verses on everything from fellowship to honesty.

Lauren Libby, vice president of The Navigators, describes his 35 years of memorizing Scripture as the best investment of his life.

Libby advises people who are interested in Bible memorization to choose the method that works best for them, whether it's taping verses to the bathroom mirror or listening to the Bible on tape. He says it's often easier to begin the process with a partner who can provide support and encouragement.

"When people begin to see the benefits of memorizing God's Word, that tends to whet their appetite for more," Libby says. "For me, it increases my vocabulary that the Lord can use to communicate with me on a daily basis."

Mark W. Smith, pastor of First Assembly of God in Bellefontaine, Ohio, says his Scripture memorization occurs naturally through regular Bible reading. He notes that while committing Scripture to memory is a commendable practice, it must be accompanied by a personal desire to live out what the Bible teaches.

"I call it hiding God's Word in my heart or, as has become one of my deeply held beliefs, letting God's Word become you," Smith says.


Search Assemblies of God News Archives
   Additional Headlines & Audio Reports

Search AG News

For generations, memory verses have been a staple of children's Sunday School lessons. But bring up the subject of memorizing Scripture in a roomful of adults, and it may be a conversation killer.

Many churchgoers today don't even read the Bible, let alone commit passages to memory. The Barna Group reports that 47 percent of U.S. adults attend church each week. Meanwhile, a Boston University researcher found 60 percent of Americans can't name five of the Ten Commandments, and half of high school seniors think Sodom and Gomorrah were a married couple, not twin cities destroyed for wickedness.

In spite of the dismal statistics, there are still those who are serious about studying Scripture - so serious, in fact, they may use time spent stuck in traffic or sitting in a doctor's waiting room learning verses.

Gary Smart, who attends First Christian Assembly of God in Cincinnati, became interested in committing Scripture to memory three years ago while helping his daughter learn a verse for the church's Stars Club. He was surprised how the verse stuck with him and reminded him of God's presence throughout the day. Since that time, he has made an effort to memorize Bible passages on a regular basis.

"I wasn't raised in a Scripture-memorizing church, so I didn't have that benefit for many years," Smart says. "Now, I feel like knowing God's Word gives me a foundation to stand on. I often think of the verses I've learned and even use them to encourage others."

Fred Gore, Junior Bible Quiz coordinator for the Southern Missouri District, earned his JBQ Master Seal while guiding his three sons through the program. To do so, he memorized all 107 JBQ Bible quotations in addition to the other Bible-related material. Gore says the benefits of Bible memorization don't just apply to kids.

"The process of repeating a passage over and over causes me to meditate on it more and really want to dig in to the Scripture to understand it better, especially some of Scripture's great passages," Gore says. "Scripture memorization for me has been like a spark that's grabbed my heart and spurred me on to some really in-depth study of the Word."

Brian King, JBQ coordinator for the North Carolina District and Southeast Region, agrees that Scripture memorization shouldn't cease at adulthood. King recently earned his Impossible Award, the program's highest honor, by reciting all 576 JBQ questions and answers. The award is usually given to children, but King says he recognized the value of learning the material himself.

"I believe the Bible is what it purports to be, and trust that God still honors obedience and faith," King says. "Therefore, it behooves me to spend time learning and practicing the Word in my life. If it really is God's Word, how could I not read, study and memorize it?"

There are a few ministries that specialize in adult Bible memorization, such as The Navigators, an interdenominational organization based in Colorado Springs, Colorado. The organization promotes a topical card system to help users memorize verses on everything from fellowship to honesty.

Lauren Libby, vice president of The Navigators, describes his 35 years of memorizing Scripture as the best investment of his life.

Libby advises people who are interested in Bible memorization to choose the method that works best for them, whether it's taping verses to the bathroom mirror or listening to the Bible on tape. He says it's often easier to begin the process with a partner who can provide support and encouragement.

"When people begin to see the benefits of memorizing God's Word, that tends to whet their appetite for more," Libby says. "For me, it increases my vocabulary that the Lord can use to communicate with me on a daily basis."

Mark W. Smith, pastor of First Assembly of God in Bellefontaine, Ohio, says his Scripture memorization occurs naturally through regular Bible reading. He notes that while committing Scripture to memory is a commendable practice, it must be accompanied by a personal desire to live out what the Bible teaches.

"I call it hiding God's Word in my heart or, as has become one of my deeply held beliefs, letting God's Word become you," Smith says.


Search Assemblies of God News Archives

Modern Hymns of Revival

 

In the Gap

You Might Also Like


Videos (AGTV)

AG News

Return to News Index

Sacramento Church Becomes a Hub of Hope to its Community

Fri, 19 Dec 2014 - 10:23 AM CST

Ebenezer Christian Center food pantry
Ebenzer Christian Center in Sacramento, California, discovered that the hunger that existed in its community wasn't limited to the kids in their children's ministry. The church now distributes enough groceries for 11,000 to 14,000 meals a month.

When Karen Abrego first came to Ebenezer Christian Center (AG) in Sacramento, California, six years ago as an associate pastor, she was a very experienced children's worker and filled with confidence in her ability to reach children for Christ. 

But her confidence was quickly tested and then frustrated. She couldn't seem to get the children's attention, much less get them to settle down. Behavioral issues were rampant. Did the kids just not want to be there? Was it a lack of respect? What was she missing?

"I decided to kill them with kindness," Abrego says. "So, it was an Easter Sunday, and we made silver-dollar blueberry pancakes for the children." Moments later, the light went on for Abrego.

"When the children started to eat, I remembered hearing that sound before . . . it was this moaning sound as they ate — it was the same sound the malnourished children I had cared for in El Salvador made when they were fed," she says.

Albrego realized that many of the children were coming to church hungry.

Ebenezer Christian Center, a member of the Assemblies of God Northern Pacific Latin American District (NPLAD), is located in a low-income, high-crime part of south Sacramento. As Abrego investigated further, she discovered that the nearby elementary school was a Title I school and that 98 percent of the kids attending were on a reduced-rate or free-meal program. 

"The kids were coming to school and receiving breakfast and lunch five days a week, but on the weekends they were food poor," she says. Ironically Sacramento is known as a rich agricultural area, but the people living in the church's neighborhood didn't have the funds or transportation to readily access it — so they did without.

Pastor Dan and Dionna Garza
Pastor Dan and Dionna Garza

Understanding the need, Abrego met with Senior Pastor Dan Garza, and the church began serving healthy snacks to the children on Sunday mornings. They then partnered with a food bank to provide food for families through the church twice a month.

"In February, due to budget cuts, the elementary school lost the support of its food bank," Abrego says. "We went to our food bank and asked if they would pick up the school and its families — they agreed as long as we provided the volunteers." 

Ebenezer Christian Center has an attendance of 350-400. As many of those attending come from the community and understand (sometimes personally) the desperate need of so many of the neighborhood families, the church confidently agreed to the food bank's request for volunteers.

The church now gives away enough food for 11,000 to 14,000 meals each month.

Efraim Espinoza, director of AG Office Of Hispanic Relations, states, "Ebenezer Christian Center, under the leadership of Pastor Dan Garza, serves as a great testimony that the Assemblies of God wants to reach out in compassion to those around it." 

Although some may assume that because the church is a Hispanic church, its community is strictly Hispanic, Abrego quickly clarifies that the area is a "mixing pot" of multiple ethnicities, including Russian, Ukrainian, Filipino, Hispanic, Hmong and Middle Eastern — to name a few. 

Providing healthy snacks for the children on Sunday mornings has been transformational for the church as the children are now attentive. In addition, the food bank has made a huge impact on the church's community. The staff now calls their twice-monthly food distribution from the church their "Friday morning congregation."

Pastor Karen Abrego
Associate Pastor Karen Abrego with two gentlemen from the Ukraine who the church now ministers to through its food pantry.

"The difference between what we do and other food pantries do is that we pray over and with people who come," Abrego says. "The people ask us to pray for their needs. We recently had one woman come rushing in, not worried that she was going to miss getting her groceries, but that she had missed prayer!"

The efforts the church has made to supply groceries to the community has torn down walls, introduced people to the church, and built relationships between the community and church volunteers and staff.

"Now, I walk down the street and people are calling out to me, 'Hey PK [Pastor Karen]!'"

The school has also communicated its thankfulness, saying that children are better behaved and are able to learn more easily without the distraction of hunger. One teacher shared how thankful she was that she could direct parents who were needing food for their families to the church's food distribution at the school. 

NPLAD Superintendent Jesse Galindo affirms the efforts of the church by saying, "We need more pastors like Pastor Dan [Garza] that will empower and support their staff to fulfill the Great Commission through their specific ministry in the local church."

In addition to food ministry, Ebenezer Christian Center also has a ministry to the homeless, taking clothing to the homeless communities every other month; they have brought in registered nurses to give free flu shots; they've helped families register for healthcare; and opened their doors for all kinds of events to meet needs. 

"We're not a mega-church," Abrego says, "but we're consistently chipping away at the rock of poverty and making a difference in families and lives. We've become the hub of our community . . . , and isn't that what the church is supposed to be?"

 

Keywords: AG churches
Authors: Dan Van Veen

Search Assemblies of God News Archives