By JEANNIE WILEY WOLF
So you think you know the Bible?
Well, then who is Melchizedek?
(He is the first priest mentioned in the Bible.)
According to Hebrews, 3:5, to what was Moses bearing witness?
(To what would be spoken in the future.)
Who is able to deal gently with those who are ignorant?
(The high priest.)
It’s a lot of remember, but the Bible Quizzing Team at College First Church of God makes it look easy. And it doesn’t hurt that during this review session, every right answer is worth a piece of candy from the big plastic tote that sits beside head coach Nancy Hiser.
“It’s not a difficult thing to do, but it’s difficult to win, if that makes any sense,” said Hiser, who has coached the team since 2005. “There’s always a few kids that are really good, so to be the top quizzer is hard.”
Many churches around the country have Bible quizzing, she said, but this group quizzes with other Churches of God.
College First is the only denomination in Findlay — and Ohio — to have a team, she noted, so they typically compete against teams from Indiana and Pennsylvania.
The local church, at 1100 N. Main St., will host a competition Saturday with teams from Indiana. The public can attend matches from 10 a.m. to noon and from 1-2:40 p.m.
Quizzing is open to youth in fifth grade through age 19. The season starts in September, and quizzers meet every Sunday to practice — unless there’s one of the monthly competitions.
Hiser has 11 young people on the team this year. Participation is open to anyone, whether they attend College First or not.
“Some of the kids, they go to church here and their parents go to church here and they’re here all the time. And then other kids, this is their only connection to any faith life,” she said.
According to the World Bible Quiz Association website, Bible quizzing is a tool that motivates young people to learn God’s word, work together and expand their horizons.
They study three different books of the Bible each season. This year’s lineup is Hebrews and first and second Peter.
Practice sessions are spent studying or reviewing Scripture and quizzing. For these practice matches, Hiser serves as the quiz master while assistant coach Alex Cole, a former quizzer himself, mans the console that identifies which quizzer responds first.
Matches resemble high school quiz bowl, but instead of hand buzzers, the quizzers sit on pads that are connected to the console. The machine can tell who stands up first. That person’s number is called out, and they can give their answer.
Quizzers have five seconds to respond once a question has been read. Once they “jump” and their number is called, they have 30 seconds to answer.
There are 20 questions in each match. Answering a regular question correctly will garner your team 20 points. If you answer a free question — which means the other two teams couldn’t answer it — you get 10 points.
Memory verses, meanwhile, will reward you with 30 points.
Quizzers who answer three questions wrong foul out, said Hiser. Those who answer four questions right will “quiz out,” she said.
“It keeps it from being one person answering everything,” she explained. “One quizzer can only take you so far. Then you’ll need other people on your team. It’s to encourage everyone to participate.” The team with the highest score at the end of the match is the winner.
Findlay High School freshman Grace Jung, 14, joined the team as a sixth-grader.
“Church is a big part of my life, and the Bible is a big influence on my life,” she said. “It’s a very captivating and engaging way to learn Scripture.”
She said quizzing also helps her comprehend the material better.
“You ask questions. You get to interact with other people,” she said.
Grace has twice been named the top quizzer at finals.
Her younger brother, Daniel Jung, got involved because of his sister.
“But I also wanted to do it,” he said.
Daniel, who is 12, joined three years ago.
“It’s very exciting and fun,” he declared.
“It’s fun. It’s totally different from school,” she said.
The quizzers spend a lot of time together during the season, said Hizer. “That’s why they all kind of act like siblings.”
In addition to practices and meets, the College First quizzers get together once a month for a fun activity like going to the movies. Later this month, they’ll visit the Holocaust Memorial Center in Farmington Hills, Michigan.
Katelyn Taber said it was one of those extracurricular activities — a trip to the Sky Zone Trampoline Park — that prompted her to join the team when she was in seventh grade. She’s a high school junior now.
“But I sprained my ankle,” she said.
The trip was off, but she stayed on the team.
Katelyn said she’s especially looking forward to Winterfest, a Church of Christ event in Gatlinburg, Tennessee, in February.
“It’s kind of like a weekend thing, and they talk about God and they do a lot of fun stuff. They bring in famous Christian comedians and songwriters,” she said. “I went last year and honestly, I had a really good experience.”
But aside from the trips and the camaraderie and the candy, the program is really about learning the Bible. And part of that, said Hiser, is memorization.
“If you want to win, you’ve got to learn some verses, because they’re worth 30 points. And there’s three of them asked every 20 questions,” she said.
Hiser said the quizzers approach learning in different ways.
“We definitely have quizzers that never study on their own. They just come to practice, and they jump up and how they do is how they do. And then we also have kids who study a lot,” she said.
Oftentimes, siblings quiz together.
“That’s not uncommon. For one thing, there’s not a lot of activities that include both genders across a very wide age span. So that’s nice for parents, because your kids can quiz together and you don’t have to run multiple places,” she said.
Carter Finley, 12, and his younger sister, Molly Finley, 10, are both on the team. This is Carter’s second year. He said he wanted to join after his dad took him to some of the meets.
“I saw it was really fun and it was a good way to learn about the Bible,” he said.
Molly said she joined because of Carter. “I went to the home meet and it looked really fun.”
Katelyn’s sister, Megan, who is a sophomore, is also on the team.
“I wanted to join because it seemed fun, and it is,” she said.
It all leads up to the final tournament, held in July at Winebrenner Theological Seminary. Quizzers attending the four-day event stay at the University of Findlay, and Hiser said first- and second-place winners receive a small monetary prize. Those in the top 10 get a special T-shirt.
The older members of the team also participate in something called a launch plan, said Hiser. There are 13 different categories, and the students try to complete activities that represent each of the words such as stewardship, thanks, discipleship and hospitality. Hiser said the plan is meant to keep the students involved in church activities after graduation.
“The idea of the launch plan is that we’re preparing for the beginning,” she said. “We’re launching. We’re not graduating. We’re accumulating these skills and these practices and these habits.” These experiences may also help the young people decide what’s next.
“Am I going to come back and help with quizzing? Am I going to be in a young-adult small group?” she said. “How do I stay connected as an adult?”