I was helping out at a T&T club for a few weeks – not the church I usually serve at, but one that asked me to fill in while a few of their regular leaders fulfilled work obligations.
The first night, the T&T director introduced me to a cluibber who had been stuck on the books of the Bible for months. She said that I only needed to require the clubber to say five books at a time.
I smiled sweetly, but I thought, I don’t think so! Not unless this girl truly doesn’t have the ability to learn.
Within five minutes, I knew that she could learn, but no one had taken the time to explain the books of the Bible to her and why we wanted her to learn them. To her, they were simply a list of funny-sounding names that made no sense.
So we got started. First I explained that knowing the books of the Bible is kind of like the Bible’s GPS. Just like we need directions to find a friend’s house, so we need directions to find David’s biography or where God commands kids to obey their parents.
I explained that the books are different divisions in the Bible – mostly dependent on the different authors whom God inspired to write His words. Some clubbers may have no idea the books are divisions in the Bible especially if they attend a church where Sunday morning Scripture magically pops up on a screen.
We talked about it until she understood and then I started sharing tips for learning the names – some are silly, some are more serious. Here they are …
Genesis, Exodus, Leviticus, Numbers, Deuteronomy – Often clubbers are familiar with these first books because they’re the ones recited the most. But you can use the “sentence clue” from the T&T book – Great Explorers Like Nacho Dip. (The sentence is weird enough that kids remember it.)
Joshua Judges Ruth is actually a real sentence and easy for kids to remember when they think of it that way.
Then an E-N-E all three are people’s names: Ezra, Nehemiah and Esther. Ezra and Esther sound alike and in between them is the “shortest man in the Bible” – Knee-high miah.
Then we have the three “first and seconds“: Samuel, Kings and Chronicles.(Chronicles are like journals or timelines of historical events.)
Job is also a man and is not pronounced like you’re going to your job, but rhymes with robe – so think of Job walking in his robe.
Then two books that start with P. Psalms is a book of songs and Proverbs is a book of sayings. Sometimes I quote a few proverbs so they understand what a proverb is and then I’ll explain that much of Proverbs was written by the wise king Solomon.
Ecclesiastes is a book that most kids identify by it’s long name and then Song of Solomon is the three-named book.
The rest of the O.T. is probably the most difficult, but here are a couple hints.
I tell them that Jeremiah was the weeping prophet and Lamentations means weeping.
Sometimes I combine the names. For instance, I teach them:Jonah/Micah/Nahum as one long word (of course, letting them know that it is actually three shorter words).
Also, the last four books rhyme and can be said in a sing-songy way. (Once I point this out to clubbers, they seem to get it and remember it.)
Zephaniah – Haggai
Zechariah – Malachi.
The New Testament begins with four men with common names. The clubbers probably know friends with these names. Next comes Acts meaning things that happened. (Tell them to think of acts in a play. This is also a series of events, except these acts are true.)
Then we start the letters to the churches.
Romans to Rome
Corinthians to Corinth
Galatians to Galatia
Ephesians to Ephesus
Philippians to Philippi (they get this one Fill-a-pie.)
Colossians to Colossae
And our first two of five T books –
Thessalonians to Thessolonica
The second two of the five are written to the young man Timothy and then the last is written to Titus.
Philemon can be tricky. Kids get it mixed up with Philippians and it’s sort of stuck in there. It’s only one chapter and not always a familiar book (but one that’s great to study).
He brews (a cup of coffee)
Back to familiar names again –
First and second Peter (ask them to name two Peters they know)
First, second and third John (ask them to name three Johns they know)
Jude and Revelation
Have fun with it as you’re teaching your clubbers. Describe the books so they get a picture in their minds like Job in a robe. Explain what’s happening in the books or who wrote them. The better kids understand what that list of funny-sounding names is all about, the easier it is for them to learn them.
Within a few weeks, the clubber was saying the books of the Bible without even pausing. Kids can do it. Don’t underestimate them.