How to Start a Bible Quiz Ministry in Your Church

By: Marvin Walker

A New Year! A New Beginning!

All who have conscientiously given themselves to involvement in Bible Quizzing have discovered that Bible Quizzing is much more than a game! The most important concern of a new or an experienced quiz director must be “What is my concept of Bible Quizzing?” If quizzing is little more than Bible monopoly to you, you won’t be able to have a quiz ministry. Decide before you begin the new year, that you will build a quiz ministry, not just an excellent team!

Naturally, an object of a quiz director is to build the best possible team that he or she can. But to make that the primary objective is putting the proverbial cart before the horse. The primary purpose of the quiz director is to minister to the quizzers through the content of the book being studied and through a healthy attitude towards the total quizzing experience.

What is a “healthy attitude?” In a nutshell, winning is wonderful, but learning to lose graciously builds Christian character that can only be learned through losing. That makes winners out of losers! With this
understanding, every quizzer can be a winner!

Every quizzer can be a winner if he is involved in a quiz ministry and not just with a quiz team. The quiz director will consciously or unconsciously guide the attitude of the quizzers. If the director can encourage them to reach for not only the content of the book, but also for the God who inspired the book, and the principles contained therein, he can build an effective quiz ministry whether the team wins or loses in competition. Quizzers who learn to reach for God through the quiz experience, rather than for trophies and honor, will be the long range winners. If this all sounds too “spiritual” or “idealistic” for a competitive venture, let me remind you that Bible Quizzing is much more than a game!

A second thing to understand before you begin is the responsibility involved with directing a quiz ministry. As in any endeavor of life, those being led will rarely rise above the level of the leadership. A leader is
known by his followers and a leader must gain the respect and confidence of the group before he earns the right to lead. A quiz director leads the team, in deed as well as in word. The quizzing experience is demanding on both the quizzer and the coach/director. The director’s heart must really be in developing a quiz ministry and there will be stringent demands placed upon him as a result of this responsibility.

A quiz director does not have to have quizzing experience, or be a good speaker. He does need to have intense desire, born of love, to minister to the lives of his quizzers. This desire and love will cause him to accept the responsibility of blending much time, hard work, consistency, patience, understanding, and firmness into the direction of a quiz ministry.

The third matter to consider before you begin is how you will motivate your quizzers to apply themselves to disciplined study. The harder your quizzers work, the greater the potential for an effective quiz ministry and a beneficial total quiz experience throughout the entire quiz season. A very effective way of motivating teenagers is through both primary and secondary incentives. An incentive is a reason or reward system for studying. Needless to say, positive incentives always produce better results than negative ones, however, more will be said concerning this in a later chapter. The incentive system requires gentle firmness on the part of the quiz director, a quality that he must exhibit in order to minister effectively to the lives and character of his quizzers.

The Ministry of Quizzing

I recently read a sign in the foyer of a church which has an active quiz program. The sign said, “Bible study is not just to gain knowledge, but to change lives.” In my years of involvement with quizzing, I have learned
that the primary purpose of a quiz ministry is to change lives not just to demonstrate knowledge of a given book in order to win awards. What are the potentials of a ministry to the lives of young people through Bible Quizzing?

A. Spiritual Involvement

Teach your quizzers that time spent studying God’s Word is time spent with God, in that God reveals Himself to us through His Word. When practice sessions and individual study times are seasoned with prayer, a climate for spiritual growth is created. Encourage your quizzers to be involved in many different areas of the church so that they won’t just be a “quizzer,” but a young person dedicated to all aspects of God’s work.

B. Learning, Growing

Through Bible Quizzing, a young person can effectively learn to appreciate:

1) the importance of hard work,

2) the importance of faithfulness,

3) the importance of consistency,

4) the fact that it is possible to win even when you lose,

5) the knowledge of God’s Word,

6) right conduct and attitudes in difficult and pressure-packed circumstances,

7) a proper respect for duty,
8) the value of responsibility, and

9) the beauty of becoming sensitive to the needs and feelings of others.

Learning and growing through Bible Quizzing in these areas will make the difference in a young person’s
ability to live a well-adjusted life and become productive and fruitful for the Kingdom of God.

Be a Man with a Plan!

The first thing to do in planning your particular quiz program is to pray. God really does care. It is great to gather ideas from every available written source, acquaintances with experience in quizzing, and other quiz
directors. But remember, what worked in the small town of Friendsville, U.S.A., may not work in a church in big Megalopolis, U.S.A. In any spiritual endeavor, which Bible Quizzing is, there has never been, is not
now, and never will be any substitute for the old drawing board of prayerand fasting! Some helpful suggestions are made in this manual to present some ideas with the understanding that you will consider them prayerfully in planning your quiz program. The creativity of the Spirit in you might inspire additional insight in your planning, giving you a unique approach that will minister greatly to your group of quizzers. But whatever you do, prayerfully plan!

Three areas for which you should plan to include:

I. Your long-range overall ministry

II. Your week-to-week program in each phase

III. Your kick-off activities

Long-Range Planning

Your long-range plans will depend on several factors: the number of teens that will be interested, the number of workers available to assist, the number of quiz teams in your area, the date of your District Tournament and the amount of funds available to you. Your long-range plans will not depend on the experience of your quizzers or some seemingly “Goliath” team in your area. Your long-range plan should extend from before your quiz kick-off through the North American Tournament at General Conference. If you don’t make it that far, it will not be because you didn’t plan on it!

Week-to-week Planning

Your weekly program will depend of course on which phase of your long-range plan you are presently involved in. The weekly program should become somewhat more intense with each phase. Basic considerations must be made concerning:

1) practice sessions

2) workers

3) materials available

4) the first quiz

A. Practice Sessions

Suggested ideas for quiz practices in the local church are presented in a later chapter.

B. Workers

Quizzing in practice requires at least a Quiz Master and a Scorekeeper. One person can do both, but keeping the time, the score, being the Quiz Master, Buzzer Operator and Foul Judge is quite difficult by oneself. If you can get ample workers for each of these jobs, do so. If not, try to get at least one other person to assist you.

If you are working with more than 10-12 quizzers, you should divide them into equal groups and secure the help of more workers. Don’t try to carry the whole ball yourself when help is available. Just as sure as a balanced quiz team is preferable to a one man team, teamwork in the coaching area is just as preferable. Of course, you, as the quiz director or head coach, must be in charge, but delegation to responsible assistants is much better than trying to cover all the bases alone.

Your Assistant Coaches are your best friends. They will be able to:

1) help carry the load of writing quiz questions for local competition,

2) be of special encouragement to a quizzer who might need it,

3) serve as officials during practice quizzes,

4) chaperone the young people on special quiz trips or outings, and

5) help prepare for possible invitational tournaments with other quiz teams.

If you are not convinced that you need assistance in directing the quiz program, you will be convinced before very long. In choosing helpers, you might consider a young married couple, a husband and wife-to-be, older teens, or an interested parent of one of the quizzers.

What qualities should those working with you possess? The principle characteristic to look for is not talent, nor exceptional ability, nor special rapport with teens, nor former quizzing experience. These are all fine qualities, but the most important and vital characteristic of a good assistant is dependability. So, when beginning a quiz ministry in the local church, begin by appointing a dependable staff of coaching assistants.

What about training your assistants? The first element of training would be to go over a copy of the Bible Quiz Manual, reviewing with them all of the rules and procedures governing the Bible Quiz Program. Be sure to share with your staff the burden you have for developing a quiz ministry. You may want to see that they each have their own individual copy of the Leader’s Handbook for personal reference.

C. Materials

The following materials and quizzing aids are available from the General Youth Division, United Pentecostal Church International, 8855 Dunn Road, Hazelwood, MO 63042- 2299:

1. Bible Quiz Manual

The Bible Quiz Manual contains all of the official rules pertaining to the Bible Quiz Program of the United Pentecostal Church International. The National Bible Quiz Policy and Guidelines for Tournament Officials are also included. This Manual is a must for everyone involved in quizzing.

2. Study Guide

This Guide is an invaluable source of help for each quizzer. To increase knowledge of the book of the Bible being studied, this material includes background information for each chapter. It is prepared in loose-leaf form for your convenience and includes at least two study questions for every verse contained in the book of study, complete with scripture references in the left margin. A number of study methods for the quizzer are also included.

3. Cassette Tapes of the Verses of Study

Learning comes easier when you not only see the words and think their meaning, but when you hear them as well. The cassettes offered are professionally recorded on quality tapes. Study methods for using the
cassettes are found in the Leader’s Handbook. These methods will speed up memorization and learning time.

4. Verse Cards

These flash cards are most helpful in study and memorization. Every verse is printed on an individual card.

5. Leader’s Handbook

This booklet is designed especially for coaches who desire to be more effective in motivating quizzers. It is not just for the first-time quiz coach who is starting a quiz ministry, but is also extremely valuable for any coach desiring to build incentiveness into the quiz program.

6. Score Sheets

You will need these for keeping the official score. Each pad contains 50 sheets (8 1/2″ x 11″) which have been designed for a efficient scoring system.

7. The Quiz Master (Buzzer System)

Every church that is serious about Bible Quizzing should invest in a buzzer system for their local church quizzing activities. The Quiz Master is handsomely designed in a solid wood, hand finished cabinet. The feather-touch switches are color-coded and numbered. The Quiz Master features an electronically produced tone alarm that automatically resets and one shot clearing that eliminates clearing errors. The system carries a full 1-year warranty.

D. First Quizzing Activity

The first quizzing activity, and perhaps all of the first phase of the quiz season, should be scheduled before the first practice. Having these plans made in advance will help you in recruiting quizzers and also give them something to work toward from the very beginning.

When possible, make your first outside activity something very special and worth attending. You might schedule an out-of-town trip. Some special activity could be planned following the quiz if time permits. Plan something that will cause a teen to think-“Maybe if I join quizzing and apply myself for a month, I can go on the trip.”

If some interesting activity is not planned before the kick-off presentation, one of your strongest incentives is lost. By planning your first quiz activity before your kick-off, you have a good recruiting tool.

When choosing an opponent for your first outside quiz, try to find a team of similar ability to yours. You don’t want to get stomped-it’s discouraging to new quizzers. On the other hand, stomping the other team
can bring false overconfidence to your team that they will have to reckon with at a later date.

These suggestions for your week-to-week program, together with later chapters on practice sessions, special events, and motivation, should give you a basis for planning a strong program. Having made your long-range plans and your week-to-week plans, you are now ready to plan your kick-off presentation.

Kick-Off Presentation

The goal of the kick-off presentation is to motivate your eligible teens to become involved in Bible Quizzing. Remember, you are interested in a quiz ministry-so the more teens you can involve in the Word of God at the beginning of the season, the better.

The first thing to do is decide on a time and a place. There are at least two options, maybe more:

1) At a regular youth service

2) At a teen social activity

If you should decide on a social activity, you may not want to publicize the social as a “quiz kick-off party.” Some of the very young people who could be motivated by a surprise approach might not participate. Teens are very changeable. Let them find out when they get there.

What will you do at the kick-off? There can be as many different ideas as
there are quiz directors, but here are some suggestions:

A. Invite another quiz team to make a presentation of quizzing. This presentation could include a demonstration quiz, but it should be more comprehensive than that. Leave time for the visiting quizzers to interact privately with your teens. There is no better injection of enthusiasm than that of teen to teen. This suggestion is particularly helpful to churches who are having a quiz ministry for the first time.

B. Use a humorous quiz skit involving coaches, former quizzers, yourself, and two or three potential recruits. This could involve a demonstration quiz of all the wrong approaches to quizzing, such as: chewing gum at the quiz board, sneaking looks at a Bible, arguing with the Quiz Master, throwing glares at the opposing team, mock crying when ruled incorrect on an answer, etc. The use of humor is excellent for establishing rapport.

C. If you have had a team previously, show a slide presentation of the team’s activities. If no slides are available, make a display of snap-shots with explanations.

D. Use testimonies of previous quizzers on such topics as:

1) What quizzing meant to my spiritual life

2) The new friendships made through quizzing

3) How quizzing helped my personal discipline

4) My most unforgettable moment

5) My most embarrassing moment

6) How quizzing changed my life.

E. Involve potential recruits in a quiz on something familiar to them. This could involve the content of often sung hymns they have almost memorized, doing a humorous skit and then quizzing over it, or even nursery rhymes.

Whichever method or combination of methods you decide upon, be certain to end it with specific information concerning the outline of your quiz year. Potential quizzers will want to know the when and where of practice sessions, week to week requirements of study time, and when and where of the first major quiz activity, who will get to go, and awards that may be won. The opportunity for spiritual growth should be emphasized.

Give each prospective quizzer a mimeographed handout with most of the above mentioned information. The potential quizzer will want to feel he is becoming a part of something that is well organized. Allow a few minutes for the interested teens to sign up for quizzing at the end of the kick-off presentation. Have order forms available to the recruits to indicate the study materials they would like to have. Then place your orders immediately. The study materials are particularly helpful to first-year quizzers.

Parents: Your Second-Base Friends!

After your quiz kick-off presentation is over and your recruiting is complete, you may find it very beneficial to have a meeting with your quizzers’ parents. Such a meeting could determine whether or not your quizzers will receive support or discouragement and disinterest on the home front. Remember, parent can be your second-best friends!

The benefits of a meeting between you and the parents include:

1) Getting to know parents you have not previously met,

2) Explaining the benefits of quizzing to their children’s lives-that it is more than just a game,

3) Explaining the amount of practice time required and the necessity of home study,

4) Sharing immediate and long-range plans of the quizzing season so they know what to expect,

5) Inviting them to chaperone one or more of the quiz trips

6) Providing an opportunity for questions and answers!

If your church is in a large metropolitan area and some of your quizzers’ parents do not attend church, such a meeting may be difficult. However, you can meet with as many parents as possible and prepare a letter to the parents who do not attend the meeting which would contain the above information. Follow up the letter with a friendly phone call to answer any questions they may have. The quiz director must always bear in mind the drastic changes that take place in a quizzer’s home life when he suddenly begins to study so many hours at home that his parents seldom see him. Naturally, when he thinks he can because of quizzing activities or study time, his parents would like to quiz you on what is happening to their son if you have not established a good rapport and have failed to foresee these potential communication breakdowns.

Throughout the entire quiz season, try to keep the parents in touch with activities and results of your quiz program by mail, phone, or in person. Those parents are rare who are not keenly interested in the activities of their teens, and those teens are rare who keep their parents accurately informed. See that the parents receive an information letter before each quiz trip. By establishing a good understanding with them, your quizzers’ home lives can be harmonious and helpful to them during the quiz year, rather than distracting.

Getting Quizzers to Keep On Keepin’ On!

Mister Mean-To

Mr. Mean-To has a comrade,
And his name is Didn’t-Do;
Have you ever chanced to meet them?
Did they ever call on you?

These two fellows live together
In the House of Never-Win.
And I ‘m told that it is haunted
By the Ghost of Might-Have-Been!


About two to three months into the quiz season, you might catch yourself thinking, “John does so well when he studies, but he just won’t study enough.” Or you might be wondering why quizzing started out so terrific, but the enthusiasm keeps waning. One of the stiffest challenges that faces the quiz director is how to “keep them studying.” One of the best methods to bridge the study gap is to incorporate the incentive philosophy into your quiz ministry.

Motivation comes wrapped in two packages! John may have heard a real hell-fire sermon the night he repented and received the Holy Ghost. He was motivated toward surrendering his life to the Lord because of the fire escape value of so doing. The fear of punishment became his incentive, or his source of secondary motivation. However, as John began to walk with God, as his prayer life deepened, and his comprehension of God’s love and concern for him grew, John’s source of motivation for serving God gradually shifted or evolved from fear of punishment to a genuine loving desire to return God’s love. His living for God then became spontaneous, a primary motivation.

To be realistic, the quiz director must understand that almost all, if not all quizzers, study from some combination of primary and secondary motivation. The quizzer is rare, who studies from primary motivation alone. How many teens do you know who are not involved in quizzing who study the Bible ten hours a week? Not many! But by adding the secondary motivation of the incentives Bible Quizzing can afford, fifteen to twenty hours a week can be commonplace. The beautiful thing that happens is similar to the hypothetical story of John referred to above. After studying for a few months, principally through the incentives of secondary motivation, we find that primary motivation increases. Many Bible quizzers develop a genuine desire to know more and more of the Word of God. Secondary motivation shifts to primary motivation!

The Quiz Director Must Develop Gentle Firmness!

To make the incentive philosophy work, the quiz director must portray an attitude of gentle firmness. Perhaps you may have heard the barber say, “Sonny, if you don’t cry today, I’ll give you a lollipop when I’m through.” The little boy cries all the way through the haircut because the barber has always yielded to his tear-filled big brown eyes after previous haircuts and given him the lollipop anyway. The barber has totally destroyed the value of his own incentive system by being too soft. To make the incentive system work, you must develop firmness…gentle firmness! By “gentle,” I mean don’t be yelling at your quizzers all the time. You are developing a quiz ministry, not a marine battalion. Let them know you are human and you understand that they are human. Don’t be uncompassionate or unreasonable in your demands on your quizzers. But be kindly firm! Once you’ve worked out a reasonable set of requirements for the lollipop, don’t give lollipops to quizzers who fail to meet those requirements. You will drastically fail in your ministry to your quizzers if you don’t help them develop the character building qualities of self-discipline, responsibility, and consistency. Undeserved lollipops undermine the development of these important


The greatest hazard to a quiz program based on incentives is the danger of  “premature peaking.” A team with little or no incentives on the local level will easily look toward the end-of-the-year official quizzes as the greatest incentive of the year. Such a team has little chance of “peaking” too early. However, a team with a series of incentives and much quizzing activity throughout the quiz season should follow the following three principles so as to avoid this hazard:

A. Don’t start too soon!

Teens just are not capable of handling a quiz study load twelve months out of a year. Depending on the enthusiasm of your particular group, anywhere from six to nine months would be desirable. If your group has great enthusiasm for quizzing, you might make your season nine months long, but if it’s your first year, or quizzing does not have a strong positive image among your teens, you may not be able to hold their interest for that long. To maintain enthusiasm for even eight months without peaking prematurely is
difficult. With these factors in mind, make your decision concerning when to start. You could let those super enthusiastic quizzers start ahead of time on their own before your official kick-off.

B. Don’t build incentives too fast!

Gradually increase the incentive value of our activities, attempting to climax or “peak” with the final event of the year. This means that events earlier in the year should by your deliberate planning have limited
incentive values. This could mean: “Avoid big tournaments early in the year” or, “Avoid overnight trips early in the year. “The quiz director’s planning is the key to properly building incentives through the season.

C. Make your last event the most important one!

This almost goes without saying after number two. If you can tie in your “big trip” spoken of in an earlier chapter, with this final official quiz, you will have less chance of peaking early. However this ideal situation
is not always practical. If not, then a big trip shortly before or shortly after the official quiz will help encourage the team to peak at about the right time.

Makin’ Bread

At this point you might be thinking that all of this sounds great, but from where on earth does the necessary finance come? I wish I could answer that question. Perhaps you are fortunate enough to have a pre-established church quiz fund, so money is not one of your concerns. Be thankful and go on to the next chapter. Now for the rest of us, the funding of “special events” can be a serious problem. If your pastor permits, you can just present the need to your congregation at an appropriate time and ask for special
offerings to meet your quizzing needs financially.

One recipe that has worked successfully for “makin’ bread,” is the Quotathon concept. After you have narrowed your field to only the serious minded quizzers, sponsor a quotathon after the manner of the Sheaves For Christ walkathon concept. Each quizzer gets sponsors for “so much money per chapter” (or per verse if you prefer) and starts working to memorize as much as he can. The better quizzer he becomes, the more money he will raise for the quiz fund. This system can be used simultaneously as a way of “earning the right” to make quiz trips. If the quizzer has earned money for the quiz fund, he earns the right to participate in the spending of that money. He probably has improved his quizzing skill in the process. It sure beats selling World’s Finest chocolate bars.

(The above material was published by the General Youth Division of the United Pentecostal Church in Hazelwood, MO.)

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