Turning to Jesus! Faith and Repentence

A Vacation Bible School Curriculum by Barry McWilliams
an ordained minister in the Presbyterian Church in America

Memory Passage: Mark 8:34b-38

"If anyone would come after me, he must deny himself and take up his cross and follow me. For whoever wants to save his life will lose it, but whoever loses his life for me and the Gospel will save it. What good is it for a man to gain the whole world, yet forfeit his soul? Or what can a man give in exchange for his soul?. If anyone is ashamed of me and my words in this adulterous and sinful generation, the Son of Man will be ashamed of him when he comes in his Father's glory with the holy angels."

One of the main goals of the VBS is the memorization of Mark 8:34b-38. This passage will be worked on as a whole during the entire week of the VBS in a variety of fun ways. Learning sessions will focus on "faith" and "repentence", and how these operate in our daily lives.

Memory work philosophy and approach: During the week your children will be memorizing Mark 8:34b-38 from the N.I.V. Bible. Because everyone will be working on the whole passage through the entire week, there has been no simplifying of the passage for younger children. Since the first step is converting the written text to representative icons, even non- readers should be able to learn the verses.

Biblical basis: Deuteronomy 6:4-9, 11:18-25, 31:13; Psalm 119:9-11, Colossians 3:16, 2 Timpthy 3:14-17

One of the main objectives for the week is for the children to learn the Memory passage by heart and understand what it teaches about the Scriptures. The method outlined below has proven effective and fun. Remember the goal is to learn the whole by the end of the week - that is your goal!

The usual approach to learning a passage is to go verse by verse, day by day and you may well be inclined to do just that with our memory passage for this VBS: Mark 8:34b-38. However there are sound educational reasons for learning the passage as a block rather than verse by verse.

Studies in memory have found two basic principles which apply to learning: Time and Understanding.

Both Time and Understanding are necessary to move something from our short term to our long term memory.

Remember : Time and practice - the more we go over it the better. Keeping it interesting, using a variety of creative and fun ways, you want to recite the passage together over and over through the week. Working on a different verse each day does not provide enough of either of these factors. However, working and reworking the same verses using a variety of fun and interest provoking methods - reciting and thinking about the whole passage every day through the week should write this passage on all our hearts. We will work as a group as well as individually in this. And, because you are working on the whole, the age old problems of connecting the parts of the passage together, or of inadequately learning Friday's verse will be overcome as well.

Our goal is for the children to memorize the entire passage by the end of the week.

A principle "tool" is the use of a series of "icons" or "picture words". First we want to identity the various phrases in the passage with their individual "icons". A large flannelgraph board and a large set of the "icons" will be useful during the week, as well as smaller sets for the classrooms. When a child sees the [FROWNING FACED FISH EMBLEM, for example, he or she should begin thinking: "the son of man will be ashamed of him", etc.

In drilling, During the week, try and come up with all sorts of fun ways and games to drill on the Memory passage. Scramble the icons and have them put them back in order, while reciting. Leave blank spots to be filled. It is important to encourage every effort, even if a child gives a wrong answer. Remember that as one child is trying, the other children are reciting along with them in their minds and correcting and being corrected. Keep order in the group and have children answering speak loudly and clearly so every one can follow.

Develop Mental understanding - The children's minds must work on the meaning, putting it into images and content they can comprehend. Converting the content to symbols, and defining words and concepts is a part of this process. The Object lessons each day will also illustrate the meanings of the various phrases. "Play with" or "on" the words frequently. In the assembly, have a planted "nerd" staffer recite each day making deliberate mistakes and use the opportunity to illustrate and clarify meanings.

An Alternative Method - My daughter has found with younger children that sign language works well for teaching verses. She teaches hand signals along with the words to the children. There are a number of children's songs that use hand motions like "Rise and Shine and Give God the Glory Glory", so children are comfortable with them. You can use commonly accepted signs and make up your own hand motions, or perhaps you can find someone who knows American Sign Language that can help you with the signing. The children enjoy working at mastering the motions, and learn the verse as they do it.

Suggested Memory icons for Mark 8:34-38:

[ FOOTPRINTS ]..... If any one would come after me
[ SLASH CIRCLED "ME"'.... he must deny himself
[ LEANING CROSS & POINTED FINGER ]... and take up his cross and follow me
[ BROKEN FROWNING PIGGYBANK WITH LETTER "I"]...For whoever wants to Save his life will lose it
[SMILING PIGGYBANK WITH FISH EMBLEM AND CROSS].....But whoever Loses his life for me and the Gospel will save it
[QSN MARK & EXCLAM MARK]...What good is it
[ GLOBE W/ GRAVESTONE (RIP)].... for a man to gain the whole world yet forfeit his soul?
[HAND HOLDING QSN MARK ].....Or What can a man give in exchange for his soul?
[ "SMILY FACE" FROWNING AT FISH EMBLEM & BIBLE... if anyone is ashamed of me and my words
[ANGRY STICK FIGURES].... before this adulterous and sinful generation
[FROWNING FACED FISH EMBLEM].... the son of man will be ashamed of him
[ANGELS DECENDING IN CLOUDS]....When he comes in his Father's glory with the holy angels

© 1991, Hypertext Version © 1996
This Curriculum may be downloaded, copied and used with permission of the author by any Church or Christian Organization. Donations to support my ministry welcomed.
For Permission and other information contact Barry McWilliams at eldrbarry@eldrbarry.net