The thought struck me today that perhaps part of the reason for the ineffectiveness of many in personal evangelism today is simply a neglect of memorizing key scriptures that have to do with the gospel. Yet it’s clear from the gospels and the book of Acts that Jesus and the apostles had the key scriptures from the Old Testament –probably those Jesus emphasized in his post-resurrection teaching ministry – at the tips of their tongues. In this, I think we do well to heed their example.
Memorizing scripture doesn’t require a razor sharp, photographic memory; rather it requires a basic approach. The scripture itself doesn’t seem to have much instruction about how to memorize scripture, except in Deuteronomy 6:6-9, where the emphasis is “Learn thoroughly; think about them; talk about them; write them down and keep them handy.” I’m on canned methodologies, since often the formulas and methodologies tend over them to overshadow any scriptural basis they may have had and become sacred cows in themselves. Rather, here is a basic method. This isn’t original to me, but I cannot remember where I found this, and I beg pardon if I cannot cite the source.
- See the verse or verses to be memorized three times (read them carefully).
- Say the verse or verses to be memorized three times (speak them out loud).
- Write the verse or verses to be memorized three times.
- Say them again out loud three times.
I would add another step here – say them to another person and use them in prayer and in conversation. That is also a big help to keep them in our heart and available for the opportunity.
I think that we also need to remember that knowing scripture won’t make us canned or superficial in our conversations. Rather, it is superficial awareness of the meaning of what should be a most deeply held conviction on our part and a slavish emulation of the mannerisms of others designed to impress that makes us canned and superficial. Spontaneity and creativity are not our gods and do not rule our evangelistic approach – but as we master the basics of the gospel within our own hearts, we can share the story and basis of our spiritual journeys with a true Spirit led spontaneity and creativity.