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  • Writer's pictureDavid Rausch

8 steps to memorizing lessons like a pro

Alright, I’m going to be honest here. I’ve never heard anyone say that memorization is their favorite thing in the world, but great communicators love delivering great messages and part of delivering a great message to kids is committing it to memory.

Think for just a moment about the best speeches or sermons you’ve ever heard. I’ll bet it wasn’t being read to you from a script or note cards. One of the reasons it was such a good message is because the pastor or speaker had it committed to memory which allowed them to focus on delivering it in a powerfully impacting way.

There’s no way around it, memorization requires some work, but the payoff in your KidMin is huge and there are some things you can do to make it easier. Here’s a window into the memorization process I've used for 20 years:

Read the whole lesson first. Before I commit anything to memory, I have to know the big picture. It’s kind of like using plans to build a birdhouse. Before you make your first cut or start hammering on things, it helps to know what it’s supposed to look like when you’re finished.

Mark the lesson up. Pens and highlighters are you my best friends! I underline and highlight key phrases, transition sentences, difficult lines and anything else I think is worthy. This creates visual "handles" in the lesson that my brain can grab a hold of.

Chunk it. Your brain has trouble remembering vast amounts of unbroken information, so break the lesson down into smaller chunks. When I memorize, I just focus on one chunk at a time and then put them all together at the end.

Read and recite. Starting with the first chunk, I read the first sentence or two. Then I put the lesson down and recite it back from memory. I continue doing this until I reach the end of the chunk. Then I return to the top and recite the whole chunk in its entirety.

Focus on the transitions. Often times the most difficult parts for me to remember are the transitions from one “chunk” to the next. So I double my concentration on the transitions.

Write out trouble spots. If there’s a line or section that keeps giving me trouble, I hand write it out. This involves a separate part of your brain and can help with retention.

Recite the lines out loud. It may seem awkward at first, but speaking the lines is tremendously helpful. I practice teaching the lesson out loud in front of an imaginary audience. It’s even better if I can do it in the actual space where the lesson is being taught.

Make it your own. Is it important that you say every word the way it's written in the lesson? No. Sometimes I love the way something is worded or there's a theological importance to the way I explain something, so I'll memorize those parts word-for-word. Otherwise, I feel the freedom to say things the way I would say them.


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