Anyone else tweak every event after each time? Anyone else just can’t do the same thing even if you repeat an event? Just a few weeks ago, we spent 3-5pm with 3rd-5th graders teaching them how use THEIR Bibles at an event we call American Ninja Warrior: Bible Edition. Cut strips of white, twin, flat sheet became our name tags so students tied them on their foreheads ninja-style and we got started.

The most important areas we wished to address were: Genesis 1:1 & John 1:1, Creation, Torah, 10 Commandments, Gospels, Disciples, Greatest Commandment, Paul & Timothy (letters), Lord’s Prayer/23 Psalm, Parables, Revelation, Shema.  Check it out!

Using a Rainbow Bookmark – As followers of Jesus, we are people of THE BOOK…the Bible. 2 sections, 66 books. Testament – covenant – promise. Asking the question: What is the Bible? We pre-made 1/4 inch ribbon bookmarks knotted at the top to be placed in different places in their bibles as a large group:

  • black=Table of Contents;
  • red=Genesis, the first book in the Old Testament;
  • orange=Joshua, the first history book in the Old Testament;
  • yellow=Psalms, the 2nd poetry book in our Bible;
  • green=Isaiah, the first prophet book in our Bible;
  • blue=Matthew, the first Gospel book in our Bible;
  • purple=to mark Romans, the first letter book in our Bible.
  1. Quintuple Steps

SAY – “How did the Bible come to be?”

PLAY – the Telephone Game = an example of the ‘oral tradition’

“The Bible is divided into 2 sections:  the Old and New Testaments.  It was written over a period of over 1600 years.  The word “Bible” comes from the Greek word biblia, which means “little books.” In all there are sixty-six “little books” in the Bible, 39 in the Old Testament (old promise/covenant) and 27 in the New Testament (new promise/covenant).”

  • Have one student look up Genesis 1:1 and read it aloud.
  • In the beginning, God created the heavens and the earth.
  • Ask another student to look up John 1:1 and read it aloud.
  • In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God.

“We are SO fortunate to have the Bible and the words written down for us.  The early people had to memorize it.  Those who were young, memorized the Torah, the first five books of the Bible (show them).  Once they got to High School, they memorized up through the Psalms and if they were going to be a Spiritual leader or Rabbi, they had to memorize the entire Old Testament!”


Have the students jump from one platform to the other, saying the Scriptures. Each student should go through twice so that they can recite each verse.  (It is probably best if the whole group says it together as each student goes through.  That way, they will memorize both verses.  Help be loud and lead the way, especially for the first few times.)

  1. Agility Ladder– Creation – Have students find and mark Genesis 1:1

This verse tells us who the Bible is about.

We serve a God of order & systems. (solar system, patterns in pine cones, spring/summer/fall/winter, day/night/day/night, birth/getting old, etc.) Ask kids “what else?”

Make a creation trail mix to save for later for snack and used an agility ladder to run through the 7 days of creation in order.

Day1         God created the light and the dark (oreo cereal)

Day 2        God separated the water on the top from the water on the bottom. The top was sky, and the bottom was ground (Frosted Mini-Wheats cereal for the clouds and the ground)

Day 3        God made the green grass, the trees, and the flowers (stick pretzels). God also made the fruit and berries (raisins.) “God made food before he made animals that would need the food. Our God is SO WISE.”

Day 4        God created the sun and the moon and the stars (yellow M&M candies; Cheerios)

Day 5        God made the birds and the fish (Goldfish)

Day 6        God made man and woman and all the animals that walk on the ground (animal cookies)

Day 7        God rested on the seventh day (marshmallow pillows)

Joke: Where does the Bible talk about baseball? Genesis 1:1 “In the big-inning.” Then back to the bible study tables.

  1. Flip the Tires:

The first five books of the Old Testament are called the Penteteuch. “Pente” means “five” and “teuch” means “books”.  The first five books of the Old Testament are Genesis, Exodus, Leviticus, Numbers, Deuteronomy.  This is also call THE TORAH.

Was originally written on scrolls (rolled up paper) that were found in jars.


Have half of the students on one side and half on the other. Have them flip each of the five tires, while saying the first five books of the Old Testament.

  1. Stepping Stones

“The Ten Commandments are found in both Exodus 20 and Deuteronomy 5. Today, we are going to learn the Ten Commandments as we jump from stone to stone on one foot. Say the commandment as you go.  Remember that you have 10 fingers so you can transfer this to everyday life by looking down at your hands and reciting the Ten Commandments later.”

#1       God first

#2       Don’t bow down to idols

#3       Don’t use the Lord’s name in vain (misuse the Lord’s name)

#4       Remember the Sabbath & keep it holy

#5       Honor your Father & Mother

#6       Don’t murder/kill

#7       Don’t commit adultery (keep your marriage promises)

#8       Don’t steal (don’t take what is not yours)

#9       Don’t bear false witness (don’t speak ugly about others)

#10     Don’t covet (don’t want what is not meant for you)

  1. TIps: Share the Good News

The Gospels are the first 4 books of the New Testament: Matthew, Mark, Luke and John.

Gospel = good news

Ask, “What is the good news?” That Jesus came from heaven to save us and reconcile (make us right) with God.

Get in pairs and throw a ball back and forth. Do this four times, saying the Gospels: Matthew, Mark, Luke and John.

  1. Hula Hoops:

Have a student find & read: Matthew 10:2-4 (NIV)

“ These are the names of the twelve apostles: first, Simon (who is called Peter) and his brother Andrew; James son of Zebedee, and his brother John; Philip and Bartholomew; Thomas and Matthew the tax collector; James son of Alphaeus, and Thaddaeus; Simon the Zealot and Judas Iscariot, who betrayed him.”

Set up four hoola hoops and ask each student hula hoop to hula hoop while saying as many names as possible.

Ask: What did Jesus do before He called/decided on these guys? (He prayed)

Simon Peter






Thomas, the twin


James, the lesser

Judas Iscariot


Simon, the zealot

Matthias (replaced Judas Iscariot)

  1. Cornhole: The Great Commandment

Have the students look up:  Mathew 22:36-40

“You shall love the Lord with all your heart, with all your soul, and with all your might. YOU shall love the Lord with all your mind and your neighbor as yourself, UMPH!” (We chant it like a cheer).

  1. Pass the Torch: Paul and Timothy

Have the students look up and read aloud: 2 Timothy 3:16-17

2 Timothy 3:16-17 (NIV)

All Scripture is God-breathed and is useful for teaching, rebuking, correcting and training in righteousness, so so that the servant of God[a]may be thoroughly equipped for every good work.

Create two lines and have a relay, carrying a pool noodle with a plastic cup taped to top of pool noodle filled with marshmallows.  If they spill it, they must pick up the marshmallows and start over from the starting line.

  1. Balance Beams – Walk the Plank

Look up Luke 11:1-4  The Lord’s Prayer

Look up Psalm 23  A Prayer of David

Discuss the many aspects of prayer (music, journaling, WITH, breath prayers, hand prayers, and silence.)

Activity: Walk the Plank in silence….everyone is silent…silent prayer walk.

Examples of how to pray…

WITH = What makes you want to tell God, “WOW!”

What do you wish to tell God, “I’m sorry.”

What do you want to THANK God for?

What do you need HELP with?

In between each one, repeat, “Thank you, Lord, that you are with me.”

Take a deep breath before each one.

Breath Prayer = Jesus, Be My Rock

Jesus (breathe in), Be my rock (breathe out)

Hand Prayers for Intercession (prayer for people)

Thumb – Those closest to me

Index  finger – those who teach me

Middle finger – those who are “over’ me (in authority)

Ring finger – those who are sick (weakest finger that can’t stay up on it’s own.)

Pinkie – yourself

  1. Drag a Tire – Parables

Parables=stories that did not really happen, but that best tell a point Jesus wants us to know.

Have students look up Luke 10:25-37: Parable of the Good Samaritan

Discussion:   Who is your neighbor?

God wants us to help others, even if it’s a heavy load.

Pull the heavy tires across a long space.

  1. Stack the tires – How does it end? With a new beginning!

Have the students look up Revelation 22:1-5

Say, “Jesus is coming back.”

Ask, “What would Jesus find you doing?” “Where would Jesus find you?”

Discuss: We are supposed to be growing in our knowledge of God and more and more like Jesus, though in this world. Once we learn one thing, we learn the next, and the next. Our growing in wisdom and knowledge of God stacks like these tires.

Ask, “How do we do we grow in the knowledge of god and more like Jesus?”

Stack the remaining tires one on top of another.

  1. Medals: The Shema and Spiritual Discipline of taking 5 minutes each day to read the Bible and 5 minutes in prayer every day (even Sundays!) TAKE 5

Have everyone find and read:

Deuteronomy 6:4-9 (NIV)

Hear, O Israel: The Lord our God, the Lord is one.[a] Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your strength.  These commandments that I give you today are to be on your hearts.  Impress them on your children. Talk about them when you sit at home and when you walk along the road, when you lie down and when you get up. 8Tie them as symbols on your hands and bind them on your foreheads.  Write them on the doorframes of your houses and on your gates.

Ask: How will you plan to Take 5 every day? 5 minutes reading the Bible and 5 minutes in silent prayer.

The first event looked like this. Each time, we tweak to make the experience better for the students and better for the leaders. And each time we offer this event I remember why I LOVE it!

“All scripture is God-breathed and is useful for teaching, rebuking, correcting, and training in righteousness.” 2 Timothy 3:16