“Who are the seven deacons of the early church?”
Beep! “Stephen, Philip, Procorus, Nicanor, Timon, Parmenas, and Nicolas.”
“Correct, you get the point.”
When I was in fourth grade, my friend and I were chosen to represent our church at the Bible Quiz Contest sponsored by the Presbytery. After school, we came to church and studied the book of Acts on which all of the quiz questions for the older elementary students were based. We read it several times, and memorized the important verses. The JDSN (equivalent to the director of Christian education) and Sunday school teachers trained us with practice questions, and we gave them answers. I still remember the answers that I gave.
Since I joined Sunday school at the age of four, I have participated in activities related to the Bible. Later as a church educator and minister, I led the activities. I would like to introduce current activities related to the Bible found in Korean congregations.
Bible Memorization Contest: It is the oldest and most popular tool to teach the Bible to the congregation as well as to the Sunday school classes. The chapters for memorization are determined for each age. For example, Psalm 23 or 1 Corinthians 13 is for children, the Beatitudes for youth, and the letter to the Romans for adults. During the Wednesday or Sunday night services (most Korean congregations have Wednesday and Sunday night services), the person recites the Bible chapter in front of the congregation.
- Bible Verse Quick Search: The presider says the Bible verse(s): for instance, Matthew 28:19-20. The participants open the Bible. Whoever finds the verses first, reads them. But if someone simply memorizes the verses, s/he could say them aloud without searching. This activity helps children or youth, even adults, know where each book is found in the Bible.
- Texting the Bible: These days most youth and older children have a cell phone. For them “Bible Verse Quick Search” would be a little bit changed. After finding the verse(s), they could text the verse(s) to the minister or Sunday school teacher. For the digital generation, this would be a fun activity.
- Bible Gold Bell: It is a kind of Bible quiz contest. This activity is originally from a Korean TV show for youth, “Ring the Golden Bell!” Each participant has a small writing board and a marker. The presider gives a question, and the participants write down the answer. If the answer is correct, they stay in the contest. But if the answer is wrong, they are out. Only the person who stays to the last has the opportunity to ring the bell and receive a gift. This activity is good for Vacation Bible School or retreats.
- Bible Reading Retreat: Generally for one week during the vacation season, church members attend this retreat. Except for sleeping, eating, and short breaks, everyone gathers together to read the Bible. Each one has a different reading speed. One person may read out loud, and others read silently. Sometimes they turn on the audio tape of the Bible and follow the reading. The participants feel proud when they have read the whole Bible.
- Bible Writing: Practicing calligraphy is a meaningful discipline for Koreans. A person may write the whole Bible, or small groups write it as a project. During Lent or Advent, the small groups may get assignments of the books of the Bible they are to write. Then at Easter or Christmas, they could present the handwritten Bible to the community as an offering. Some churches offer a Bible typing club. It is a tool for the older adults to learn computer skills as well as write the Bible.
Sometimes I ask myself what might lead others to cherish the Bible itself. How do we experience the power of the Word without adoration?
When I talked about Bible reading and writing activities to my friend, she shared her experience about her mother. Her mother copied the whole Bible. At first, the speed of her writing was very slow and her penmanship was not good. Because of her advanced age and poor hearing, she was not able to understand others well. Out of frustration she yelled often. With practice, her penmanship and listening skills improved. My friend told me, “I believe that it is the power of the Word.”
Heeja Han started her ministry with Buechel Presbyterian Church and has been director of cross cultural ministry at Beulah Presbyterian Church in Louisville, KY, the past eight years. She has worked in campus ministry at Murray State University with various international students from China, Japan, Korea, Malaysia, and Taiwan to develop their leadership skills. She has been a regular contributor of articles on church education published by Presbyterian College & Theological Seminary Christian Education Press. She has worked with children and youth in Korean churches.