Following 11 weeks of practice during discipleship training hour on Sundays, a church-wide Bible drill for adults was held during a Sunday night service at the church in Old Hickory, Tenn., last fall.
Participants in Tulip Grove's first-time adult Bible drill ranged in age from 18 to 60-plus, with a median age of 42.
The church used the children's Bible drill curriculum from LifeWay Christian Resources of the Southern Baptist Convention and practiced from September until mid-November.
"We had a fine bunch of 14 adult church members participating," said Pam Reasonover, who has led Bible drill competition at Tulip Grove for 28 years.
"We have no adult Bible drill materials, but we do have a chart with names on it and stars and stickers for people who memorize Bible verses," she said.
Unlike children's Bible drill participants, the adults have no opportunity to advance beyond the church level to other competitions, but they did receive the matching shirts and certificates.
An adult presence in Bible drill is not a completely new idea at Tulip Grove. Three years ago, Alec Cort, then-student pastor at the church, stepped up to participate in the youth Bible drill with the seventh- and eighth-graders.
After Cort's involvement, people suggested to Reasonover that the church needed an adult Bible drill. When Jack Lewis, the church's minister of education, suggested the possibility in a staff meeting, the others told him to go for it, and the event was put in motion.
Since the children's Bible drill curriculum begins with the fourth grade, Reasonover asked the adults, "Are you smarter than a fourth-grader?"
"I sort of dared them to get them involved," she said.
While some of the participants with previous Bible drill experience may have had an advantage over others, "most of the participants in the adult Bible drill did not grow up in a Baptist church, or the church they were in did not offer a children's Bible drill," Reasonover said. "Some were even unchurched."
Sandye Torphy, a 50-something Bible learner who grew up Southern Baptist, recounted that she participated in what were called "sword drills" as a child.
"I love God's Word and I want to know more," Torphy said. "The adult Bible drill is so much fun, and I've learned so much. I am up to memorizing 13 Bible verses, 10 key passages and all the books of the Bible."
But Torphy, like the other adults, had to memorize 25 verses for Tulip Grove's Bible drill, a step up from what was expected of the children.
"Yes, adults still can memorize," Torphy said. "Our members have seen the children's Bible drills. Knowing where the books of the Bible are and learning the key passages -- it's a goal that they want to accomplish."
Nine of the 14 adults who took part in the Bible drill practices also participated in the church-wide drill. But, as Reasonover put it, choosing not to participate in the church drill took nothing away from what the adult drillers did.
"The fact they took up the challenge is great," she said. "They know more than when they started. The point is to memorize Scripture."
Reasonover said her drillers would like to see other churches offer Bible drill for adults. "They want some competition," she said with a laugh.
William Summey, editorial project leader of LifeWay's ParentLife magazine and children's Bible drill resources, said the materials help children learn "to follow the Scripture directive to hide God's Word in their hearts. Kids can learn it so quickly and can memorize it so easily, but adults can do that too. … It's never too late to learn Scripture."
Marcia Knox writes for the Baptist and Reflector (www.tnbaptist.org), newsjournal of the Tennessee Baptist Convention.
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