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 'Bible Bee' offers $260,000 in prizes | Baptist Press
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‘Bible Bee’ offers $260,000 in prizes

NASHVILLE, Tenn. (BP)–A new competition is providing another opportunity for churches to encourage Scripture memorization among their children. The Bible Bee, a Bible memory competition for children and youth from 7 to 18, adds a new twist to the traditional Bible Drills that Southern Baptists have used for decades.

“The goal of the Bible Bee is to build godly character in young people by calling them back to the lost discipline of Scripture memorization,” a news release from the organizers stated.

“Most people are familiar with the Scripps National Spelling Bee, where youth compete annually in the nation’s longest-running educational contest. While it is certainly beneficial for our children to commit the spelling of words to memory, imagine how much more life-changing it will be for them to memorize the Word of God,” the release said.

The bee is coordinated by the Shelby Kennedy Foundation, named after a woman who died of cancer in 2005 at age 23. Inspired by Kennedy’s reliance on God’s Word, the nonprofit ministry encourages children and youth to grow in Christ through Scripture memorization.

Instead of asking children to spell a word, the Bible Bee requires contestants to learn Bible passages and facts — with an ultimate goal of equipping the next generation to be bold ambassadors for Jesus. A written multiple-choice test and an oral round of questions involving Bible memory and knowledge are part of each Bible Bee competition.

Local Bible Bees will be conducted throughout the country Sept. 12, and 100 finalists from each of three age categories will advance to the National Bible Bee in Washington, D.C., Nov. 5-6. The Bible Bee Competition will distribute more than $260,000 in prize money with $100,000 being awarded to the first-place winner of the top age category.

The deadline for beginning the registration process to hold a local Bible Bee is Jan. 31; interested individuals can contact the Shelby Kennedy Foundation at 1-888-3-BIBLE-B (1-888-324-2532). Registration for participants in a local Bible Bee will take place from Feb. 15 through April 30. Further information about fees ($20 for one child, $15 for a second, $10 for three through six participants, with a $75 maximum for families with more children), competition locations and other facets of the Bible Bee are available at A free downloadable study guide, “Bee-Liever’s Handbook,” will be available May 1.

Bible Bee participants will be able to choose one of five Bible translations: King James Version; New King James Version; New American Standard Bible, New International Version and English Standard Version.


The Bible Bee competition is not a Southern Baptist effort, but looks to be a great opportunity for the thousands of Southern Baptist churches already steeped in a Bible memorization tradition.

Many Southern Baptists grew up participating in Bible Drills, which are coordinated by LifeWay Christian Resources. The Children’s Bible Drill is organized in cycles that rotate over a three-year period for children in grades 4 through 6.

Bible Drills help children by developing skills in locating books of the Bible and key passages. Participants also memorize the names of the books of the Bible in order, as well as selected Bible verses and key passages. Another goal is to help children apply the Bible to their lives.

Drill dates are set by local Baptist associations and state conventions, and churches can schedule their own drills a week or two prior to their local drill. LifeWay offers Bible drill materials, and state conventions determine which version of the Bible will be used in competition.

Each year children learn the location of 10 important passages in the Bible and must be able to find the passage when the caller gives the title. For example, if the caller says, “The Crucifixion,” the children must know that the reference is John 19 and be able to find the passage in 10 seconds. At the end of three years in Children’s Bible Drill, children will be able to find 30 key passages.

Bible drill participants can choose one of three Bible translations: Holman Christian Standard Bible; King James Version; and New International Version.

Mark Jones, a childhood ministry specialist at the Baptist General Convention of Oklahoma, said Bible drill activities benefit churches.

“Oklahoma churches witnessed 4,247 children accepting Christ last year,” he said. “Most will enjoy fun events yet never learn their Bible skills, rendering them handicapped Christians, unable to spiritually feed themselves. ‘Bible Skills, Drills and Thrills’ [LifeWay’s curriculum line] has given churches a tool to assist parents and teachers as they work together to train children how to use their Bibles and become life-long disciples of Christ.”

For introductory articles on Bible drills, click here and here. For additional information on Bible drills, visit and type “Bible drill” in the search box or e-mail Mikey Oldham at
Compiled by Baptist Press staff writer Erin Roach with reporting by Polly House of LifeWay Christian Resources.

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