Do you ever feel like you are pulling teeth out just to get your class to open their scriptures? And yes, that includes the adult classes. There are times when they may even have them on the floor in front of them or in their laps but won't open them! How in the world do you get your class to open up their scriptures and feast on the words? Try one of these methods:
Prepare scriptures ahead of time that can be easily drawn. Hand out slips of paper and have each person illustrate that verse- comic strip, Mormon Ad poster, anything. Hang them on the board when they are done or have each member share it with the class. Hanging the finished products on the board works better than describing each one if you have a shier class. Describing also takes much longer.
Give out points to those who find the scripture first and to those who are willing to read it out loud. All those that have the scriptures open to the right page also get points. At the end of the class the top 3 get to come pick out their reward first (stickers, little candies, pencils, etc). If you have a healthy competitive class, this will work great.
The answers are scripture references so everyone has to open their scriptures up to even begin playing! It helps if you have the topics over each column so they know how to start their questions. Do a sample one first to give the idea. A lot of children have no idea what it is anymore!
Learning Where to Look
Often people are hesitant because they have no idea where to find the verses you are looking up. Occasionally spend time going over what books are in the set of scriptures you'll be studying that day. For example, if you're talking about the life of Jesus, write down on the board all the books in the New Testament and go over them briefly before starting the lesson. Everyone will feel more comfortable and often learn they aren't the only ones that didn't know. This is especially important when you have those that don't come often or new members.
Q & A
Ask a question pertaining to your lesson. All answers given must be in their own words but also a scripture to support it. If people are hesitant to try it give them 5 minutes to prepare then go around the room one by one. Your class is now exploring the index and discovering that the scriptures have all the answers they will need.
For an activity night we did a relay with scriptures. If you have a chance to incorporate some fun, do! Grab a ton of shredded paper and dump it into 2 tubs. Write scripture references on colored paper but cut it into the same sized paper strips as the shredded paper. Each person has to race over to the bucket, find a scripture, look it up, then match it to the phrases on the whiteboard. The next person in line could change it if she thinks it is wrong but also has to do her own. It is super fun and gets them to think about the words they are reading. If you have a lot of scriptures to read in your Sunday class, try a tamer version of this one.
Print out scriptures in large words on some paper and cut them into puzzles pieces (or use the posters I often include in the handout packets). Put the pieces in an envelope and tape it under the chairs before they come in (Put a stop sign on the door or have someone block it so no one comes in early). After each class member puts together his puzzle, he has to find the scripture then show you. The first person to do so gets to pick who says the closing prayer. The last person gets to leave first or write on the board that day.
Leave a Trail
Start with one scripture, look in the footnotes and go to another. See how each scripture is similar then go to the next one. Or look up some scriptures that go well together and have them write the next reference in the margins. The scripture references I add to the Primary 7 lessons are a great for getting a trail going.
If you have class notebooks, draw a chart on the board and have your class copy it in their notebooks. Give the scripture reference for the story then have them fill in the squares based off that reference. Since the chart is in each of their notebooks, they are more likely to open their scriptures. Don't use notebooks? Assign a column to each part of the classroom then have them fill it in on the board.
Handing out slips of papers is, of course, one sure fire way to get one individual to open their scriptures. Having them announce the scriptures and wait a second or set up the scripture first, gives the rest of the class time to look it up too. The person that reads then gets to pick another person to explain what was just read.
Likening the Scriptures
Nephi did this with his brothers. When you put the scriptures into situations that your class has been in or is in now, they come alive and your class suddenly wants to read about it. Ask your class how they can apply it or how they have seen it in action today.
Reading the scriptures out loud allows the spirit to be present in a different way than if you summarize it. Having them look at the words while reading allows them to be more in tune with the words and provides an opportunity to mark it, look up other references, and write notes in the margins. I never like to say "underline this" because it is their choice but I do like to give them opportunities. Have red pencils out to use, talk about that scripture, and point out how you marked it.
What ways do you get the kids or even adults to crack open their scriptures? Share your tips in the comments below.