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Q & A: Inside the Scripture Memory System

Scripture Memory Questions

Many years ago my family discovered a wonderful little system to help us with Scripture memory. With this simple tool, we consistently learn new verses, plus we review every verse we’ve ever learned every month. And it takes only five minutes a day.

Thousands of families are now using the Scripture Memory System in their homes, and we’re thrilled! Scripture memory should be a lifelong spiritual habit for all ages, and forming that habit as a family is a rich and rewarding experience.

If you haven’t yet seen how the Scripture Memory System works, we have instructions and a video on our website that will help you get one set up for your family. We also have a beautiful Scripture Memory Box and pre-printed verse cards and dividers, if you would like to grab the system already set up and ready to start.

It’s really a simple system to use, but sometimes specific questions pop up as you dig into the details. So today I’d like to give you answers to questions we have received about the Scripture Memory System.

Question #1: It’s great that we are constantly adding new verses to our box, but what about the younger children in the family? Do we have to start over once they are old enough to talk and join in?

A: No, you don’t. Just keep going. Your younger children will learn the verses by hearing them recited every month. In fact, they probably already know most of the verses from the months that they have been listening to the rest of the family learn and recite the passages. Don’t hurry them or push them. Allow them to listen as long as they want to, and invite them to join in when they feel comfortable.

Many of you know that my youngest daughter struggles with speaking, due to autism and pervasive developmental delays. It is very difficult for her to get the words from her mind to her mouth and speak them, let alone try to speak them at the same rate as everyone else is reciting. So we didn’t require her to recite with us when we did our Scripture Memory Box every morning. She sat and listened. For years.

After those older children had graduated, there was only Hannah and me left, and I wasn’t sure what would happen. I knew that I wanted to continue memorizing Scripture, and it certainly wouldn’t hurt her to keep hearing it. But I thought I would try an experiment. The first morning that it was just the two of us for Scripture Memory time, I pulled out the card for Today and read it through as usual. Then I grabbed the Odd or Even card (I don’t remember which one it was) and handed it to her. She knew exactly what to do; she had been watching and listening to us do the cards for many years. She didn’t even hesitate. She read the reference, then “read” the verse, and read the reference again. But she wasn’t really reading. She was quoting. She was reciting. How do I know? Because she was following along the lines with her finger, and the words coming out of her mouth didn’t follow the same pace as the words she was pointing at. She had memorized those verses, just from hearing them recited and reviewed every month over the years.

If she can do it, so can your younger children. In fact, don’t be surprised if they know those verses better than you do!

Question #2: How do you choose verses?

A: I like to do a mixture of single verses, short passages (like a paragraph or so), and long passages (like a whole psalm or chapter) from both the Old and New Testament. I try to select verses that convey ideas to feed our minds and hearts: passages that remind us of truths about God; verses that bolster our faith in Him; psalms that remind us of His presence and help; passages that shape our thinking and our character as we do life each day.

If you would like help selecting verses, we have hundreds already gathered and formatted on cards. You can download them for free or purchase pre-printed ones. There are twelve card packs. Each pack holds about 50 verses in various lengths of passages. You can go through the packs in any order. They are bundled into two sets of six packs each. Each pack should be enough to last at least one year, so each set of six packs should give you enough verses to work on for about six years.

Feel free to use them as it, or to scan the list and pick and choose, or add other verses that you would like to.

Question #3: Does it matter which version of the Bible we use?

A: That’s a personal choice. Our family’s Scripture Memory Box cards feature a variety of different translations. Some are King James. Those are usually the psalms, because I memorized them in that translation when I was young and I didn’t want to have to try and re-memorize them now in a different version! Some are other Bible translations. For example, if our church was focused on a particular passage for a sermon series, we would memorize that passage in the same translation that our pastor was using. Or if I thought a verse would be easier for the children to understand in one particular version, I would use that translation for that verse. So it’s really up to you.

Currently, the Scripture Memory cards on our site are available in King James (KJV) and in the English Standard Version (ESV).

Question #4: I know with the System you usually read the verse through once each day, but how do you learn longer passages? Do you work on them one verse at a time?

A: I use the same method for any length passage: read it through once a day. Of course, you could focus on one verse at a time, but I have found a couple of advantages to memorizing the passage as a whole. First, you are hearing the whole context every time, so you don’t get confused as to which single verse comes after or before which other single verse. It’s one whole entity, and you can follow the line of thought contained in that passage. Second, every verse gets equal time in the spotlight.

When I was younger, I memorized some passages one verse at a time. So I would memorize verse 1, and once I had that one down, I would focus on verse 2 and say verses 1 and 2 together. Then add verse 3 and say verses 1–3 together, and so on. That method can work, but I discovered that I knew the first few verses of the passage much better than I knew the last part of it, because I had said them more often. Think about it, you say verse 1 every time you work on the passage, but you say the last verse only enough times to remember it and finish up. So I like to keep the entire passage together as one entity.

That’s not to say you can’t or shouldn’t memorize one verse at a time. Feel free to do that if that works best for you. The main point is to memorize Scripture and make it a habit, whatever method you use to do the memorizing.

Question #5: Does it really take just five minutes a day?

A: Well, as you continue to add verses to your box, it will take longer to go through each day’s cards, of course. But I think you will be amazed at how many you can get through in just five minutes.

I like to walk people through the Scripture Memory System, and usually when I do that demonstration with a group, people can’t believe how little time it took to do several verse cards of varying lengths. I made a video of that demonstration using a timer, so you can see for yourself. Check it out.

Now, I will say that it probably takes us closer to ten minutes per day at this point. We’ve been using the system so long that we have about eight or ten cards behind each date-of-the-month divider. But I think ten minutes a day is still time worth investing in the spiritual habit of Scripture Memory. I hope you get to that point too someday!

Which brings us to the last question . . .

Question #6: What do you do when your box is full?

A: Well, the wooden heirloom box holds more cards than a regular plastic box. But regardless of what kind of box you’re using, here is what you can do once it is full. This is what we did. We took dividers 16–31, with their verse cards, and transferred them to a different box. Since those numbered dividers are the ones with multiple cards behind them, that basically cut our verse collection in half, split between two boxes. Now, on the first through the fifteenth of the month, we use one box. On the sixteenth, we grab those front few dividers and verse cards—just Daily, Odd/Even, and days of the week—and move them to the front of the other box. Then we can use that box for the rest of the month. On the first of the next month, we move just those front cards and dividers back to the original box—it takes about two seconds—and we’re all set to go through the fifteenth.

That’s what works for us. Maybe some of you have a different solution. I’d love to hear about it if you do.

Moving to two boxes is a Scripture Memory milestone in my book. I hope many of you get to experience that joy. But it happens one verse or one passage at a time. Be faithful to take just a few minutes each day and do Scripture Memory as a family.

If you haven’t started yet, I encourage you to download those free verse cards or purchase the pre-printed ones and grab a recipe card box or invest in the beautiful handcrafted box. Then watch the videos to see how simple the Scripture Memory System is to do.

Just five minutes every day. It’s time well spent, forming a habit that will nurture, instruct, and guard your family’s hearts and minds for life.

8 Responses to “Q & A: Inside the Scripture Memory System”

  1. Keri January 17, 2019 at 7:55 am #

    I have one additional question. Is this system assuming that you are working on Scripture memory 7 days a week? Of course, I would love that. But in reality, if there were consistent days that we didn’t get to it, would that mean that certain passages would get skipped? Is there a way to adjust the system to just follow a school week? It’s probably something I could figure out, but my brain isn’t there at the moment

    • Doug Smith January 17, 2019 at 12:10 pm #

      There are some creative ways to do what you’ve described. Start by eliminating the Saturday and Sunday dividers so you will only be graduating cards into weekdays. Your daily and odd / even dividers will stay the same. You will still naturally switch between odd an even perfectly with the two weekend days gone.

      Now the tricky part is what to do about the numbered dates of the month because some months have four weekends and other months have five. Using the sections that fall on the actual date means you’ll be frequently skipping cards. And removing some dividers means the dates won’t line up with actual dividers as the dates shift throughout the months.

      A really simple solution is to keep all of the date dividers but don’t match them to actual dates. Place some sort of bookmark card in the section you are on. Each day that you recite verses, simply do the ones in the marked section then move the marker past the next divider. When you reach the end of the date dividers then move it back to the first. That way you still continually cycle through all of the review cards.

  2. Keri January 18, 2019 at 9:21 am #

    Thank you Doug for helping me think that through!

  3. Meghan January 19, 2019 at 3:16 pm #

    Do you include poetry and any other memory items at the same item, or just keep the system strictly for scripture?

    • Sonya Shafer January 21, 2019 at 10:42 am #

      My preference would be to keep the Scripture Memory box separate, but you could easily create another box for poetry or Latin or whatever.

      I’ve talked with some moms who have a separate box for each child, with his or her other memory items in it. Each child spends a couple of minutes each day going over his own box at a different time from the family Scripture memory box.

      It’s a great system that can be used in a variety of ways.

  4. Meghan January 21, 2019 at 8:30 pm #

    Thanks so much

  5. Liza Engelbrecht April 4, 2019 at 3:42 am #

    How often do you advance the cards behind the daily, odd, even and daily dividers? Do you have more than one card behind each of these dividers? I’m a bit confused as to how this part works.

    • Jordan Smith April 4, 2019 at 4:25 am #

      You should only have one card behind Daily, Odd, Even, and the Days of the Week dividers. You advance each of those cards whenever you have memorized the card behind the Daily divider.

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