Photo: Quizzing at Tedrow Mennonite Church, Wauseon, Ohio, during the 2015 quiz season. North Clinton Mennonite, Wauseon, Ohio, team is on the left; House Church team is on the right. Team members from left: for North Clinton, Mindy O’Neill, Cory Johnson, Hannah Richer, Connor Johnson and for House Church, Hope Nofziger, Chris Foor, Jason Aeschliman and Rebekah Thomas.
Bible Quiz is oftentimes criticized because it’s argued that students don’t learn about the Bible, they simply memorize verses. But Mennonite congregations in Pennsylvania and Ohio have found Bible Quiz to be a great way to build awareness and love for Scripture, confidence and community for youth.
Bible Quiz is a program for students ages 12 through 20. Each quiz season lasts roughly 10 weeks, and each week during the season, students quiz on about 100 verses. At quiz meets, a quizmaster will read 15 questions that are each worth 10 points for a correct answer. In the weeks leading up to a Sunday quiz meet, students will memorize the text as best they can in order to answer these questions.
When the regular quiz season ends, there is an invitational that includes quiz teams from leagues in Ohio, Pennsylvania and Virginia.
Kara Miller, a quiz coach at Slate Hill, started a team with her husband, Caleb, when their children were old enough to start quizzing. Miller had been involved in quiz while she was in junior high and high school, and she wanted her children to have the same opportunity.
Miller feels that simply knowing the Bible is important. She believes that there is a lack of biblical knowledge, especially among youth, and that even if younger quizzers don’t understand all of the material, familiarizing themselves with the Bible is important.
Miller has seen many different types of quizzers: Some love to memorize, others love to compete, and some just want to be there to meet new people. According to Miller, there is room for everyone in the program.
Graham Holcomb is a former quizzer with Ark Bible Chapel and Spring City Fellowship, nondenominational churches in Pennsylvania. While he’s currently a staff person for Atlantic Coast Conference (ACC) Bible Quizzing, he says that during his eight years as a quizzer, he grew to know God better.
“When I got into Bible quizzing, I really got to know the [biblical] stories in great detail,” he said in a phone conversation on Sept. 23. “It created a closer bond between me and God. It’s amazing how much God has used Bible quizzing in my life.”
Holcomb said he struggled with depression during his junior high school years; he felt untalented and didn’t have many friends. Bible quizzing helped turn that around. He formed friendships by bonding with his teammates, and he realized he was good at quizzing. He found his talent.
“God fueled my passion for it,” he says. “I just learned so much from quizzing, like the importance of seeking God’s favor, being a leader in the church, always having a Bible, keeping your faith alive, being a
champion and showing good character.”
Brook Musselman is another former quizzer turned staff member for ACC Bible Quizzing. To him, Bible Quiz is a great way to get youth to interact and spend time with Scripture.
“It’s something I think youth leaders have a hard time with,” he said in a phone conversation on Feb. 11. “How do they interact with the text and make it relevant for kids in their lives? Going through Bible Quizzing and working with the text gives youth leaders and coaches the opportunity to go a bit more in depth than they would be able to otherwise.”
Musselman encourages teens to study the material, not just memorize it to quiz over. He says he feels that if students study the text, they are able to make the words more relevant and meaningful in their lives.
Jo Nofziger is a quizmaster in the Northwest Ohio quiz league and also appreciates Bible Quiz for getting Scripture in front of youth. She loves the stories that come out of Bible Quiz, noting the story of a girl who came from a family that didn’t have a strong church background yet thrived in quiz.
“She has an amazing testimony,” Nofziger said in an email on Oct. 14, “and part of that testimony is that after she accepted Jesus, she was praying for a way to dig deeper into the Bible, and the next day a quiz staff member asked her to be on a quiz team. That is a great story of Bible Quiz.”
All seven of Nofziger’s children have participated in Bible Quiz over the years, and she said she is encouraged when she sees them studying the Scriptures and memorizing passages.
“I was always thankful to see my children dig in the Word, memorizing large portions of Scripture,” she says. “That stays with you. I studied [the book of] John as a junior [in high school], and it is still one of my favorite books. I still remember passages that I memorized at the time.”
For Fred Hertzler, the ACC Bible Quiz coordinator, getting youth involved is the most important part. Along with his wife, Chris, Hertzler is responsible for setting up the schedule each week, making sure there are people to staff the quiz meets and keeping things running smoothly. He and Chris have been in this role for the last 20 years because they see what Bible quizzing can do in the lives of youth.
“You see [quizzers] come in at seventh grade,” he said in a phone conversation on Oct. 10. “And you see them grow spiritually, physically and in the way they handle themselves in front of people
Hertzler sees Bible Quiz as a good way to keep youth rooted in Scripture.
“It’s a great way to learn God’s Word,” he says. “Even though it’s a competitive arena, the things you study and read stick with you for years to come. It helps make the Bible familiar and not just a book on a shelf.”
If any congregations are interested in starting a Bible Quiz team, Fred Hertzler is willing to field questions and offer advice. You can contact him at firstname.lastname@example.org.