Rules are made to broken.
This mentality has gotten me into a lot of trouble in life. But no matter how many times I learn this lesson (the hard way), I still find myself pushing against systems and structures. They feel restricting. And as an Enneagram 7, I want to have as much fun in life as possible.
But I’ve also discovered that rules, structure, and boundaries can actually help get me where I want to go. Rather than closing me in or holding me back, they set me free to grow and thrive. This is especially true in my spiritual life. Spiritual disciplines (structures) help me fall more and more in love with Jesus and keep me focused on Him. In doing so, I become more like Him.
The same is true for our students. But getting them to embrace spiritual disciplines can feel a bit like coaxing a cat to swim. To kick off the process, try—perhaps counterintuitively—starting with a practice that’s probably neck-in-neck with fasting for the most neglected discipline: Scripture memorization.
This discipline had fallen off my radar for quite a while, but I recently started prioritizing it and—wow—it’s made a big difference in my walk with God!
Here’s why: Memorization plants Scripture deep into our souls, making it part of who we are and transforming us from the inside out. When we memorize Bible verses, we’re taking the very words God spoke through His Holy Spirit as He revealed Himself to humanity and making them part of us. As the psalmist wrote: “I have hidden your word in my heart that I might not sin against you” (Psalm 119:11). That’s powerful.
Why Start with Memorization?
Scripture memorization is a great first discipline for students because:
- It gets them into God’s Word in bite-sized pieces—an appetizer, if you will.
- Your whole group (including you!) can do it together. The joint effort can build camaraderie, help more people follow through, encourage them to advance the Gospel, and perhaps even incorporate some fun.
- As Jesus demonstrated throughout the Gospels, memorized Scripture is our most powerful tool against temptation, doubt, and personal attacks.
5 Power Verses for Youth Ministry
There are many excellent passages your group could choose to memorize (they’re all God-breathed, after all), but here are five suggestions, along with the reasons why they’re valuable:
“Your word is a lamp for my feet, a light on my path.” – Psalm 119:105
I recommend this verse because it highlights the power of God’s Word—and explains why Scripture memorization matters. When students love God’s Word and understand its value for their lives, they’ll keep coming back to it to draw on its truths.
“Scripture foresaw that God would justify the Gentiles by faith, and announced the Gospel in advance to Abraham: ‘All nations will be blessed through you.’” – Galatians 3:8
This passage may be a bit unexpected, but it’s important because it affirms that the Gospel has been God’s plan from the beginning and is the consistent and cohesive story told all through Scripture. All the way back in Genesis 12:2-3, God told Abraham: “All nations will be blessed through you.” The rest of Scripture—and human history to this day—reveals how God miraculously accomplished that through Christ.
“For God so loved the world that He gave His one and only Son, that whoever believes in Him shall not perish but have eternal life.” – John 3:16
This might be a “gimme” for your students who grew up in the church and already have it memorized. But even if it seems elementary to some of them, it’s an important one to have in the hopper because it communicates the Gospel all on its own.
“For I am not ashamed of the Gospel, because it is the power of God that brings salvation to everyone who believes: first to the Jew, then to the Gentile.” – Romans 1:16
Our students should never be ashamed of the Gospel, no matter what might be at stake, and they should know that it’s the power of God to save the life of anyone who believes in Jesus. If they have this verse memorized, the Holy Spirit can use it to challenge and encourage them in moments when they’re wavering about whether or not to share the Gospel with someone.
“Don’t let anyone look down on you because you are young, but set an example for the believers in speech, in conduct, in love, in faith, and in purity.” – 1 Timothy 4:12
We need to build our students up and empower them to lead. God believes in them and knows they have the ability to lead not just their peers, but anyone and everyone. As these words become part of who they are, may they be emboldened to lead the way with us.
Challenge: Join your students in committing to memorize each of these verses, one a week, for the next five weeks. Let’s see what God will do in our lives and in theirs as we memorize His Word together!