Family

What this Catholic learned from a morning with some Evangelical kids

If I asked my own kids what their favorite Bible passage was, and why, what would they say?

 

Though I’m Catholic, I recently was asked to step in as a substitute teacher for a speech class at an Evangelical-leaning homeschool co-op. There were seven students present that morning, ranging in ages from 11 to 16, all primed to give their first speech of the semester, an Introductory Icebreaker. I was all ears.

I listened as four of the kids highlighted their favorite Bible verse and what impact the passage had on their lives. Three of them talked about their baptisms as “the greatest day of my life” or “best decision of my life,” and several of them talked about their substantial involvement with their church and what a major role the church plays in their lives. I was pleasantly impressed. These kids were delightful to listen to and I felt privileged to have been invited in that small way into their lives.

Which got me thinking … If I asked my own kids (I have six, ranging from 15 months to 12 years), what their favorite Bible passage was, and why, what would they say? Could they even name one? My kids are pretty well-versed in the Bible stories – the older two (ages 10 and 12) at least could outline a basically accurate account of the major ones – but I wouldn’t feel confident saying that God’s Word lives in them. My kids haven’t really begun to scrape below the literal surface of the Children’s Bible stories to dig into the real riches of God’s Word. And how can they love something they don’t know?

Read more…Meg Hunter-Kilmer’s series on memorizing scripture including this week’s “Are you trying so hard to pray ‘right’ that you are praying wrong?

I remember my upbringing in a fundamentalist church and how as kids my brothers and I had to memorize passages of Scripture. Even though I have wandered through multiple churches over the years before landing firmly, finally, in the Catholic faith, those early years of Scripture memorization served me well and I am blessed for them.

Even though most of the specifics of book/chapter/verse were forgotten over time, the basic ideas were ingrained, and bits of verse floated around my mind during my drifting, turbulent years — verses that provided a desperately-needed anchor for my soul at that time. God is love….I am the way, the truth….Choose life….I am with you always….The Lord is my shepherd….I know the plans I have for you….

So I am starting to lead my kids in Scripture memorization. Small bits, geared toward the kids, one week at a time. Our memorization verse for the week is written on a small chalkboard and mounted on our kitchen wall, so all of us are constantly seeing it as we pass by. At the end of the week the younger kids (ages 3, 5, 8) have the opportunity to tell me the verse by memory. The older two (ages 10 and 12) must know it by memory and also locate in their own Bibles. Whichever child is able to do this gets a sticker by their name on a chart. After five stickers they will have earned a treat.

There will be no nagging to get the verse memorized. But it is there; it surfaces in conversations during the week, and I hope and pray that by God’s grace the Word will imprint on their souls, and find its way into thoughts, words and actions.

We started with a phrase so simple that our 3-year-old was overheard repeating it to himself as he wandered about – ‘God is love’ (1 Jn. 4:8). Week two found ‘Be kind to one another’ (Eph. 4:32) on our wall. We’ll see how this week’s “Trust in the Lord with all your heart” (Prov. 3:5) goes. But the prognosis is good. At the end of week two there are already 10 stickers next to five names on the chart.

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Zrinka Peters

Zrinka Peters is a freelance writer and unexpected Catholic covert. She lives with her husband and six children in MN, where she spends her days attempting to cheerfully balance duties and aspirations