Three preschool children sat in a row, facing a crowd of about 100, their feet swinging back and forth in chairs too high for them to touch the ground. A moderator asked them questions.
But they weren’t math or English questions.
“Who is Jesus?” Tropzie McCluney, the moderator and coordinator of the Bible Bowl, asked Jade Squires.
With a microphone in hand, the young girl answered with confidence.
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“God’s son,” Jade said.
Jade passed the microphone to Caden Smith, who was sitting next to her.
“What was Jesus’ mother’s name?” McCluney asked the boy.
“Mary,” he answered quickly. Caden passed the microphone to Caylie Roberson, and the children continued to answer a series of questions from verses to stories from the Bible.
This was the start to a “Bible Bowl” competition, hosted at Kingdom Family International Church in Wake Forest.
Students from elementary school to high school, who attend churches across the state, competed against one another to find out who was most knowledgeable about the Bible.
The competition went like a spelling bee, with individual students answering questions one by one. The only difference was the students were grouped in teams by their churches. And when they missed a question, that team didn’t get a point.
When they got a question correct, a judge raised a green card. When they got a question wrong, a red card was raised. When they ran out of time – 10 seconds to answer a question – a bell rang.
Among the questions were, “How did David conquer Goliath?” “What does the term ‘gospel’ mean?” And, “Which disciple at first refused to have Jesus wash his feet?”
But the majority of the questions were answered correctly, as McCluney said the students have been studying for months. The crowd was impressed.
McCluney said eight years ago, she was looking for ways to get God’s word out to youth in a fun way versus the traditional way through Bible study. She said she noticed many of the youth were not interested in Bible study. So she thought of a Bible Bowl, a friendly competition between kids to find out who knew more about the Bible.
My purpose was to get the word out so the kids could enjoy it.
That would require those students to study the Bible. And it seems to have worked.
“We started with two churches, and for two years we had two churches,” McCluney said. “Then another church heard and they wanted to come. But we’ve had as many as 13.
“My purpose was to get the word out so the kids could enjoy it.”
This was the second year the competition was hosted at Kingdom Family International Church. Janice Squires, Jade’s mother and the organizer for Saturday’s event, said she had heard about McCluney’s Bible Bowls in Shelby and contacted her about how to start one in Wake Forest last year.
She invited McCluney to this year’s event and she agreed to come. With her she brought other youth from different churches to participate. Eight churches competed in the bowl.
“We didn’t want it to be expensive for the children and families, we didn’t want it to be a burden,” Squires said. “We wanted to make it as easy as possible so it fit budgets.”
“We didn’t want to turn anyone away because of money,” McCluney added.
At the end of the competition, a team either received a medal or first place award. Even the three preschool students who didn’t compete received a medal.
When the organizers put the medals around the children’s necks, they smiled wide smiles, as parents and church members in the crowd clapped and cheered.
McCluney said she hopes the competition will grow, but she’s not sure exactly how big she wants it to get.
“We’ll see what God says,” she said.