Dear Parents and Students,
Last year, there was a time that one of our students was in crisis. I met with him and two of his friends. I asked the boys if they had any Bible verses they could give to their friend as encouragement and hope. They had been students at various Christian schools for many years and had been raised in a Bible believing/teaching church, but were unable to recall any Bible verses. This lack of Bible memory is not uncommon, even for adults. We preach and teach that the word of God is central to our lives, but do we have it stored up in our hearts? Deuteronomy 6:6-9 says:
Hear, O Israel: The Lord our God, the Lord is one. Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your strength. These commandments that I give you today are to be on your hearts. Impress them on your children. Talk about them when you sit at home and when you walk along the road, when you lie down and when you get up. Tie them as symbols on your hands and bind them on your foreheads. Write them on the doorframes of your houses and on your gates.
Again and again, throughout Scripture, we are commanded to have the word of God impressed and implanted in our hearts at all times. How can we have this word in our hearts, when we do not know it by memory? How can we live by the Scriptures if we do not know them? Jesus said that "you will know them by their fruit." The fruit of a lack of love for the word of God has proven to be devastating to our culture. Something has to change.
One of the common responses to aggressive Bible memory plans is that it is "too time-consuming". One of the things I always tell my students is that it does not matter whether or not they become a president of a company, a teacher, or a stay-at-home mom, for the rest of their lives, no matter how busy they are, they need to develop the practice of a daily time with the Lord: study, memory, application, prayer, and personal worship. We should never be "too busy" for Bible memory!
Bible is taught at Red Lion every day as a core course. This means that there are 180 times that our Bible department has an opportunity to instill the word of God into the hearts of your children! SO MUCH can and should be accomplished during this time that God has given us! For many years, I have taught Bible at our homeschool program at Glasgow. I get the kids once a week, for less than an hour, 25 times a year. Almost all of them have memorized significant amounts of Scripture. I do not state this to brag, because to my own shame, I feel that I fell short—so much more Scripture could have been memorized during this time. I can't imagine, however, what could be accomplished with 180 hours of Bible instruction, in addition to the biblical instruction our students receive in other classes and at their churches! I believe that Christian schools are falling short in this area because of a lack of creativity in developing new models.
Many have wondered how a theologically Reformed church, such as Glasgow Church, will impact a multi-denominational school. I hope that our impact is to bring the word of God to the forefront of our student's lives. I believe we all can agree that memorizing God's word is so important for our children. Our children do not know God's word as they ought. Psalm 119:11 says, "Thy word have I hid in my heart that I may not sin against you." During good times and times of crisis, our children need the word of God implanted in their hearts and minds. In former times, children would know entire catechisms and corresponding biblical proofs. In Bible times, children would know entire books of the Bible! We live in a different culture, but I want to push back against the idea that the kids cannot learn large amounts of Scripture.
We have defined the problem, but how do we move toward the solution with creative new approaches? When Bible verses are required for a weekly quiz, if they are required at all, they are quickly forgotten by the students. With this new approach, a student ACCUMULATES memory verses. The student will be quizzed (similar to a vocabulary approach) on the week one verse the first week, the week one and two verses the second week, and so on, all the way to the 35th week. Three cycles of Bible verses will be developed and repeated over the course of a student's time at Red Lion. For instance, Cycle A will be used this year, Cycle B will be used in 2013/14, Cycle C will be used in 2013/14, and Cycle A will be used in 2014/15, and so on. This allows the student enough repetition, over the long term, to absorb the verses into their hearts and will allow us to draw key verses from Genesis to Revelation. This approach will also allow the entire school to have a weekly theme verse.
I have selected each of the Bible verses and have prayed over each one. For this year, I believe we need to focus on acquiring wisdom, with a special emphasis on purity and watching our words. Therefore, there is a concentration in the book of Proverbs with one verse, per chapter, of that book. Additionally, our theme verse for this year will be Ephesians 4: 29-32. These verses will change your child's spiritual life and form their character. That is what we believe as Christians and we need to put it into practice at RLCA. Will it be easy? Of course not. Excellence is always painful. But I am convinced that this is where God is calling us to focus. He is not calling us to focus on doctrinal nuances, although there will be a place for that. He is calling us back to his inerrant word.
The goal is for the weekly verses to be applied by the teachers in homeroom, by their coaches at practices, and in weekly chapel messages.
We are also presenting the students with a challenge to memorize large chunks of Scripture or whole chapters of the Bible. These passages will be over and above the Cycle A verses and will be mostly optional depending on the nature of the Bible course being taught. 6th-12th grade students will now have the option to take Honors Bible. The requirement for Honors will be to memorize the larger passages, in addition to the weekly verses. Students who take the Honors section will still be in the regular class, so this option will not affect their schedule. Students desiring to take the Honor's section should speak to Mr. Sam Osbourn.
Our hope is to have a Spring Program, in addition to our music program, that is wholly devoted to Scripture memory. I envision an elementary Scripture memory night, a middle school, and an upper school night as well. Perhaps there will be some students who are able to publicly quote an entire chapter of Scripture. Perhaps this is an opportunity for our Arts department to be creative with communicating the word of God. I want Red Lion Christian Academy to be known for many things, but I deeply value the word of God and desire for Red Lion to be known especially for our Scripture memory program and the spiritual impact it has on students.
In Christ Alone,
Dr. Chuck L. Betters