Name That Tune

This game is adapted from the Spicks and Specks game show where it is called “Substitute”.

The aim is to teach the memory verse by singing it as many times and in as many ways as possible to help reinforce memorisation.

Split into at least 4 teams. Give the memory verse for the term to each team or have it up on the projector or a whiteboard. Each team will also need to be given three tunes to well-known songs as well – you can use national anthems, pop songs, church songs etc. This game is played in 3 rounds. Before the start of each round, each team has a minute to practice among themselves singing the words of the memory verse to the tune of one of the well-known songs that they were given.

Each team then takes turns in singing the memory verse to the tune of the well-known song while the other teams listen in and try to guess the tune of the song that is being sung. Teams only get one opportunity to make a guess and they “buzz in” when they think they know the tune. 1 point is awarded to the team that makes a correct guess, and 1 point given to the team that was singing the song that was correctly guessed. No points are awarded if no one guesses the tune of the song.

In defence of the Memory Verse…

This is not so much a defence of the Memory Verse because it’s particularly under attack by people who want to be rid of it, but rather a defence for my own peace of mind as I flip-flop between thinking MVs are the best thing since sliced bread and on the other hand loathing the very archaic and patronising notion of rote learning verses of the Bible…

This really is a reflection that was prompted by the excellent papers by Michael Jensen and Graham Stanton at the 2012 Youthworks Youth Ministry conference (Thetacon) which delved into the subject of the incarnation and how the humanity of Jesus connects with our trials and temptations.

One of the points that came through strongly in both papers and really grabbed my attention is that in the face of temptation and trials, Jesus used only the same resources for faithfulness that I too have access to. This startled me because I think I’m often inclined to believe that Jesus could only resist temptation because of the divinity that he has and that I don’t… I think I’m inclined to emphasise his divinity at the sake of diminishing his humanity, and in doing so I lose the impact of realising that Jesus was made in every way like me and was tempted in every way I am and yet in his humanity did not sin (cf. Hebrews 2:10-11; 4:15). Jesus overcomes not by being superhuman, but by being truly human.

So what resources does Jesus use to resist temptation and persevere through trial? He has the resources of godly friends, Scripture, prayer, the indwelling of the Spirit, the momentum of maturing character and the visible divine help of angels. Chiefly of these though is the way Jesus relies heavily on his knowledge of God’s Word.

When Satan tempts and tests Jesus in the desert, inviting doubt and misquoting God’s Word, Jesus does not overcome Satan and bind him by means of his strength or power or his heroism or his unbowed moral courage. He defeats him by clinging to the Word of God – to the command and covenant, the precept and promise.

This is why I’m challenged to defend the Memory Verse. Memorising and recalling God’s Word accurately in our time of temptation and trial is the chief means by which we resist and persevere. At the youth ministry I’m involved with we do use the Memory Verse activities on this site, but two of them in particular we use regularly each term (‘Application Pictures‘ and ‘Memory Verse Skits‘) because we want to remind ourselves that we are not remembering God’s Word as an end in itself but in order to recall it in our time of need. We want to think ahead to the situations that we will find it useful to remember these verses and so cling to God and his faithful character.

I’m renewing my commitment to the Memory Verse times we use at our youth ministry as the chief way of equipping our young people to resist and persevere through temptations and trials as the Lord Jesus did.

Engrish Memory Verse

« Engrish Memory Verse [works with any number of people]

Type the memory verse into an online translator and translate the verse from English into another language (Chinese works best). Then take the foreign language translation and translate it back again into English. You will notice that it doesn’t come back out the way it went in! You might want to repeat the process a few times if you really want to mess it up, however, it does need to be vaguely recognisable…

Show this mistranslation to the group and then give them a limited amount of time to work out what the memory verse actually is.


John 3:16 [English TNIV] “For God so loved the world that he gave his one and only Son, that whoever believes in him shall not perish but have eternal life.

Translate into Chinese (Han): “對於上帝如此被愛世界他產生他僅有的兒子,誰相信他的那不會消滅,然而有來世。”

Translated back into English: “So is liked the world he producing his only son regarding God, who believes that his will not eliminate, however has next life.

If you repeat the process one more time you get: “Therefore is liked producing only then his about God’s his son, believes world he will not eliminate, has the life.

SMS Memory Verse

Write the memory verse out on a piece of paper using only the numbers used to write the words in an SMS message, ie. the numbers that correspond to the letters on the keypad. (Eg. “843 5673” = “the lord”). Obviously there will be a number of words that will correspond to a pattern of numbers but that’s all part of the fun for the kids to work out the memory verse. They can use their mobile phones for this game to help them work it out. Split the group into small teams of 3-4 and if there is a person on each team who has credit and is willing to spend it, then you could say whoever is first to text the memory verse to the leader’s mobile wins. Otherwise the winner can be whoever is first to decode it and write it out correctly.

Mad Gab Memory Verse

This is a good game for introducing a new memory verse. Just like the card game ‘Mad Gab’ from Mattel©. It’s a game of words and phrases, it’s not what you say, it’s what you hear. Say the words “Day Leo Fur Rings” a few times and you’ll find you’re saying. “daily offerings!”, just sound it out. Write up the memory verse in Mad Gab style (eg. “Iron hot ash aimed off day goes bell” = I am not ashamed of the gospel). If it’s a large memory verse split it into sections (ie. If there are 3 sections to the memory verse then make 3 rounds to the game, and when a team has solved the first section, give them the second, and so on til they solve the whole verse). Players work in teams and compete against each other to solve the memory verse first, and when they have solved it, run up to the white board and write it out in full.

Buzzer Blanks

(AKA. Wheel of fortune, missing letters, hang man) This is a good game for introducing a new short memory verse. Using a white board, put underscore dashes on the board for every letter in each word of the memory verse eg. Jesus wept = _ _ _ _ _    _ _ _ _. Divide everybody into 2 groups. Each group elects someone to be the buzzer and another to be the contestant. The ‘buzzer sits on a chair out the front while the contestant stands behind them with their hands on the head of the buzzer, when they want to answer a question they lightly press the buzzer to make the sound for that team. The game is played in rounds so that the each person in the team has an opportunity to be the buzzer or contestant. When a contestant gets a question right they are allowed to select 1 letter of the alphabet (apart from vowels) to be uncovered on the board. Have special rounds where contestants are allowed to choose vowels or solve the memory verse. You will need to prepare at least 26 questions for the game and they can include bible questions, youth group questions, celebrity questions, etc.

Pass the Parcel

Hide a word of the memory verse in each layer of the parcel (with or without prizes). With music playing, pass the parcel around the group till the music stops and then unravel a layer of the parcel. Repeat till all layers are unravelled and all words have been revealed. Have the group place the memory verse in order and say out lout together.

Note: If you have lots of people, this activity will require lots of space.

Eat Out! Memory Verse

Write each word of the memory verse on a disposable paper bowl (one memory verse word on each bowl, or if it’s a long verse write a few words) so that there is a set of bowls with the complete memory verse. Split into teams of about 5 people and give one set of bowls to each team (obviously you’ll need to have one full set of bowls with the memory verse written out per team; eg. 5 teams = 5 sets of bowls). Have each bowl filled with some sort of food (eg. Cereal, crumbled dry weet-bix, chips, custard, etc.) so that the word/s cannot be read underneath. Do a “ready, set, go!” and the team that finishes their food first, arranges the memory verse in proper order, and read it out is the winner.

Warning: You will want to check for food allergies among the contestants first, and let people sit out who really don’t want to be a part of it.

Balloon Darts

Print off 2 copies of the memory verse on different coloured paper and put the words of the memory verse into about 5-6 balloons. Blow up the balloons and stick them to the wall. Split the group into 2 teams and give them some darts. The teams won’t know which balloons will have their memory verse words in it. When all the balloons have been popped, the first team to arrange the memory verse and read it out is the winner.

Warning: Don’t let kids go up to the wall until all the balloons have been popped and no one is throwing any darts.

Chinese Whispers

This operates just like the Chinese whispers you played at school. Split into 2 teams and have each team form a circle or a line. Tell the memory verse to the first person in the group and then they have to pass it on to the next person by memory, and so on… At the end of the group, see who has the memory verse most accurate. This activity will work as an introductory memory verse activity as well.

20+ Note: If you have more than 20 people, split into smaller groups and have the last person in the group write out the verse on butcher’s paper.

Application Pictures

Ask the group “what situations would it be useful to know this memory verse?” and then draw pictures of those situations on the white board/butchers paper. The aim is for them to see how memorising the bible is useful in life.

-20 Note: If you have time on your side, you can split into small groups and have each group come up with their own situations and pictures, then present it back to the group. Add approx 5 minutes per group to the running time for this activity (eg. 4 groups will add 20 mins)

Memory Verse Relay

Form teams for a relay race where each team member has to run up to the whiteboard and write one word of the memory verse (in correct order) until the entire verse is written. If time permits can do multiple rounds with different instructions e.g. Hop/jump to the whiteboard. Can also do with a memory verse jigsaw puzzle.

Pass the Ball

See who knows the memory verse, then write it up on the board. Get everyone to stand in a circle and have a ball to pass around the group. As you catch the ball you say one word of the memory verse and then pass it to another who says the next word, and so on till the memory verse is said in full. Time how long it takes to say the memory verse and try and see how fast the group can say the memory verse. Try to beat the previous time.

Newspaper Slice

Divide the memory verse up into sections then divide the youth group into smaller groups. Hand out a newspaper to each group and give 10 mins to slice up words and/or letters out of the newspaper to make up their section of the memory verse and glue onto a piece of paper. Awards for most creative.

Memory Verse Song

Split into groups (approx. 10 people) and have each group do the memory verse in a different music genre (eg. Advertising jingle, high school musical, rap, soap opera TV theme song, Opera, Country and Western etc). Record the songs if you have the technology and use them in the coming weeks to remember the verse.

50+ Note: If you have 50 people or more, just use a memory verse song already written (eg. Colin Buchanan) to teach the memory verse. You can play the song on CD and sing along or play it live! (playing live might be best, because the CD can be a bit lame).

Pass the Parcel revision

Teach the memory verse to the group. Make a parcel with prizes in each layer. Have the group sit in a circle and pass the parcel around the group while everyone says the memory verse out loud, whoever has the parcel when the memory verse has been said through gets to unwrap a layer. Repeat the process saying the memory verse each time until all the layers have been unwrapped (some kids will miss out on a prize, but this will teach them that life isn’t always fair… they’ve got to learn somewhere!).

Total Recall

See who can recall both the memory verses for the term. For an extra challenge you can see how many verses they can recall from the year! Do this activity near the end of term, and even get them to do it in groups sometimes so they can work out the memory verses together by writing down as many as they can recall on a piece of paper.