Bible quiz

Bible Quiz, also known as Bible Bowl, is a competition between teams representing individual churches. Various Protestant denominations, plus a handful of independent groups, sponsor these competitions. All of them take the form of a quick-recall game, similar to those used in many American schools but instead using the Bible as the subject of study and questions. Organizations which use the name "Bible Bowl" lean toward the format established by television's "College Bowl" in the 1950s. All groups feature teams competing to be the first to "buzz in" using an electronic lockout device, much like those still used in TV game shows such as "Jeopardy!" today.

Most organizations have seasons which roughly correspond with the U.S. school year (September-June), holding local competitions on a monthly basis, with playoffs beginning in March or April that lead to a national championship tournament. Contestants are usually students in grades six through twelve, with some organizations also offering a separate division for younger children.

Most Bible Bowl/Quiz organizations use the New International Version as their source authority; others use the King James Version. Some groups also feature a "quoting bee" as an additional part of their competition. Similar to a spelling bee, a contestant is given a verse reference, and must quote the verse perfectly within a time limit (8-20 seconds, depending on the level of competition) or be eliminated.


After the Second World War, youth organizations across the United States formed Youth for Christ as an umbrella organization to coordinate their Christian evangelical action. [Time, February 4, 1946, online at,9171,776614-1,00.html] One of the popular activities of Youth for Christ in many areas was Bible quizzing in which teams organized according to local high schools competed against one another in local areas, known as rallys. Competition would be between three teams of four players each who would attempt to answer twenty questions, read aloud one at a time. After a player answered five questions correctly or three incorrectly he or she would have to be replaced by another player, and other substitutions were also permitted. In some regions of the United States, the local quiz team champions would travel to compete against champion teams from other areas, and national competitions also were held at the annual Winona Like Bible Conference Youth for Christ conventions in Winona Lake, Indiana, where national Bible quiz team champions were determined. Popularity achieved its zenith in the late 1950s and early 1960s. [ Youth For Christ records at the Billy Graham Center, Wheaton College, Wheaton, Illinois summarized online at]

One of the unusual features of early Youth for Christ Bible quizzing was the challenge to participants to jump to their feet from a sitting position to win the right to answer each question. At first, judges would determine the first to jump by viewing above index cards to see whose head first "broke the plane." But, as time passed, local Youth for Christ rallies built or purchased special seat cushions with electrical relay switches that lit signal lights on consoles after pressure was removed due to the quizzer jumping up from the seat. In this way, the right to answer went to the first to leave his/her seat rather than the first to appear to have jumped, thus removing any advantage for taller participants. This was one of the earliest mixed gender competitions for teens which depended, in part, upon some athletic ability.

As the format of Youth for Christ activities changed in the late 1960s, Bible quiz teams began to represent individual churches, and groups of churches from the same denomination began to hold competitions limited to those denominations apart from the Youth for Christ supervision.Fact|date=March 2008

Bible Quiz/Bowl Organizations

National Bible Bowl

National Bible Bowl, originally sponsored by the North American Christian Convention, is now managed by National Bible Bowl, an independent organization since 2001. Most teams still come from churches affiliated with the NACC, but other churches are now allowed as well, even into the National Tournament. The game format is nearly a direct copy of College Bowl, except that the matches are generally longer. Unlike many other quiz programs though, National Bible Bowl games have a time limit of 14 minutes with 15 questions for round robin games or two 10 minute rounds with 20 questions for double elimination games. This tends to create a faster environment and more closely reflects College Bowl in that it is more entertaining for non-participants to watch. The official study text material covers both the Old and New Testament, but there is no set cycle used to determine the books of the Bible studied and new questions are created every year, even if the same material is covered again.

Games are played with two teams of 2 to 6 players each with no more than 4 participating per round. The quizmaster reads "toss-up" questions worth 10 points each no matter the difficulty. Toss-ups start with a statement called a "lead-in" which directs players toward the answer, and then the question is read. Toss-ups can be of various types including "keyword," in which a word used once or twice in the official study text is used in the lead-in, "general," which asks a question pertaining to a specific concept or idea in the text, and "specialty," in which players have the opportunity to give short answers to various specialty types such as rhyming words or alliterations. Each player has a hand held signal block in front of them with a button and a light on it to recognize which player "buzzed in." Players must begin their answers within 3 seconds of buzzing in, a much shorter response time than the Assemblies of God or Nazarene programs which both allow players 30 seconds to complete their answers. This is one of the main factors in the speed of the game. Players do not need to finish the question being read but must quote the answer or the verses where the answer is found. If a question is answered incorrectly, the other team has the opportunity to listen to the rest of the question and then answer. Points are never taken away in National Bible Bowl for any reason nor is a player ever removed from the game for answering too many questions correctly or incorrectly, but substitutions may be made at half-time. Once a toss-up is answered correctly, a bonus question is given to that player's team on which they may confer. Bonus questions consist of 4 to 8 segments and are worth 20, 25, 30, 35, or 40 points.

The schedule coincides with the school year and round robins take place each month in local State competitions. Some States hold more than one round robin due to an abundance of teams in the area. In the summer, competitive teams will meet at some of the several invitational tournaments taking place at Christian Colleges, Universities, Bible Schools, and Seminaries around the country. At each competition a written test is administered ranging from 150 to 500 questions and certain competitions, including the National Tournament, hold "Quoting Bees" wherein a participant is given a verse location and must quote the entire verse from beginning to end verbatim. There are no official district or regional competitions that determine advancement and judges are only used in later rounds of double elimination tournaments. The season ends with a national championship tournament open to all teams, which concludes with a bracket-style playoff; the final games are staged in front of audiences sometimes numbering in the thousands.

A children's program, called "Beginner Bible Bowl", is for children in third through fifth grades. This program has different rules to engage younger players, one of the main differences being official pre-written questions that the children must quote the answers to. [ [ National Bible Bowl] ]

Wesleyan Bible Bowl

Wesleyan Bible Bowl, sponsored by the Wesleyan Church, is also similar to College Bowl, but games begin with a written quiz. [ [ Wesleyan Bible Bowl] ]

Assemblies of God Bible Quiz

Assemblies of God Bible Quiz, sponsored by the Assemblies of God, is the largest Bible Bowl/Quiz ministry in terms of participants. "Teen Bible Quiz" games feature two teams of three quizzers each, plus up to three substitutes. comprise 20 questions, with point values of 10, 20, or 30 points depending on the difficulty. Quizzers who buzz in first (using hand-operated buzzers) and answer correctly within 30 seconds are awarded the point value; an incorrect response results in a deduction of half the point value. A quizzer who interrupts the quizmaster (the question reader) must first complete the essence of the question and then give the answer; a quizzer who fails to do both correctly is not only penalized with a deduction of half the point value, but allows the opposing team a shot at the same question. Individual quizzers with five correct answers in a game "quiz out" and receive a 20-point bonus, but must sit out the remainder of the game; this rule was created with the intent to prevent one individual from dominating the match. This also encourages team play by giving more questions to quizzers who aren't as knowledgeable of Scripture or as experienced at quizzing. Similarly, a quizzer with three incorrect answers is also disqualified (known variously as an err out, quiz-out backwards or strikeout), but without further point penalty; the purpose of this rule is to discourage quizzers from "buzzing in" and simply guessing, and also to speed up play.

Monthly matches begin in October. District-level are playoffs in March, with top teams moving on to one of eight regional playoffs, and the top five teams from those advance to the National Finals, held in July. Teams study a specific portion of the New Testament each season (Mark in 2008-2009). Questions at the National Finals level can be extremely difficult, such as requiring a seven-verse passage to be quoted perfectly within 30 seconds, or the recollection of a list of twenty or more names or places. The 2008 "Final 40," as it is nicknamed, was held July 6-11 in Green Bay, Wisconsin, and was won by the team from Owasso First Assembly of God in Owasso, Oklahoma. The 2009 Final 40 is scheduled for July 11-19 in St. Louis, Missouri. [ [ Assemblies of God Teen Bible Quiz] ]

"Junior Bible Quiz" uses a similar format for children in grades one through six, with some differences: 1) a box of 576 questions and answers covering the entire Bible is used as the subject material, and does not change from year to year; 2) four quizzers and up to four substitutes comprise a team; 3) six correct answers are needed for a "quiz out" and a 10-point bonus (this was also the rule in "Teen Bible Quiz" until the start of the 2005-2006 season). [ [ Assemblies of God Junior Bible Quiz] ]

As an extra bonus, there is a bible seal program that covers Junior Bible Quiz questions. The highest level is the Bible Master, which is achieved by answering 59 out of 60 questions correctly in one sitting.

Though this competition is sponsored by the Assemblies of God, teams from churches outside that fellowship may compete, with certain restrictions. At the Teen Quiz level, such teams may advance through the regional level of playoff competition, but not to the National Finals. In Junior Quiz, advancement through to National Finals is not restricted; JBQ teams from any church may compete. In 2006, a church from outside the Assemblies won the Junior National Championship for the first time in the competition's history; previously, a Southern Baptist and a Methodist church had each finished in second place. The 2008 championship tournament was held in Kenosha, Wisconsin.

Between "Teen" and "Junior Quiz", more than 3,000 teams compete in Assemblies of God Bible Quiz each year.

Nazarene Bible Quizzing

Nazarene Bible Quizzing is sponsored by the Church of the Nazarene. It is similar to Assemblies of God quizzing, with a few exceptions. Matches are 20 questions in length, and questions are worth 20 points each. Penalty points are deducted only when a quizzer "errors out" by answering three questions incorrectly, when a quizzer commits two fouls in a single round, each team error after the fourth, or any error after question number 15. Another important difference is that teams comprise of four quizzers with one substitute, rather than three and three. The most obvious difference is the method of buzzing-in — a seated quizzer jumps up, which activates a pad on an electronic lock-out device (lacking such a device, a judge determines the first person to stand). In addition to the first place team from the district, a second "all-star" is formed from the remaining top scoring individual and will advance to the regional competition along with the first place church team. During the regional competitions, the first place church teams and district "all-star" teams compete to form a Regional "all-star" team which will represent their region at nationals. There are two different national competitions in Nazarene Bible quizzing, one which includes district and regional competitions, and one which only involves the regional teams. These National competitions alternate back and forth from one year to the next. Nazarene Bible Quizzing has a long history in the Church of the Nazarene, and has been popular with many churches for generations. Quizzers generally are in their teenage years.

Free Methodist Bible Quiz

Free Methodist Bible Quiz is sponsored by the Free Methodist Church. It is similar in format to the Nazarene Bible Quizzing ministry.It is mainly in the midwest region.In 08-09 they will study the book of Luke.

The winner of the National Bible Quiz Finals in Free Methodist Quizzing(At a Free methodist college/university) receives the Alpha Omega trophy, which consists of a base on which the names of all previous winners are engraved. The back has 3 small stained glass windows, and there is a platform to sit a detachable trophy that looks like a Bible. The winning team keeps the Bible, and the rest travels to the team that won that year. [ [ Free Methodist Church Quizzing] ]

Missionary Church Bible Quiz

Missionary Church Bible Quiz is sponsored by the Missionary Church. It is similar in format to the Nazarene Bible Quizzing ministry. Teams are largely from Indiana, Michigan, Ohio and Eastern Canada. [ [ Missionary Church Quizzing] ]

Alliance Bible Quizzing

Alliance Bible Quizzing is sponsored by the Christian and Missionary Alliance. Quizzing is in game format, similar to Nazarene and Free Methodist. One round (with 3 teams) is 20 questions, and 20 points is added for each correct question. Ten points are deducted for a wrong answer (after Question 16). Teams sit on a pad, like Nazarene quizzing, and jump off when they know an answer. They then have 30 seconds to give the full answer. Similar to Assemblies of God quizzing, a quizzers "errs out" when they answer three questions incorrectly, or "quizzes out" when they answer four questions correctly, winning bonus points in the latter case. In either case, the quizzer sits out the rest of the game. Types of questions include quoting a Bible verse or finishing a sentence. A national tournament is held. Championship tournaments are also staged at international levels, with the 2007 final held in Wheaton, Illinois at Wheaton College. [ [ Christian & Missionary Alliance Bible Quizzing] ]

The Church of God General Conference

The The Church of God General Conference (one of a number denominations all using the name "Church of God") sponsors a Bible quiz competition that is similar to the Nazarene/WBQA format. [ [ Churches of God General Conference Bible Quizzing] ]

World Bible Quiz Association

The World Bible Quiz Association is an independent ministry that sponsors quizzing across denominational lines. Its game format is most similar to Nazarene, Free Methodist and Alliance quizzing, and most competing teams come from those three groups. The WBQA's eight-year cycle of New Testament books studied each season is followed by those groups plus the Missionary Church quiz program and Wesleyan Bible Bowl, and previously Assemblies of God "Teen Bible Quiz." The WBQA holds a limited number of monthly competitions as well as invitational tournaments through the year, plus regional and national playoffs that are independent of the denominational quiz playoffs. WBQA quizzing appears to be concentrated in a few geographic areas, primarily Pittsburgh, Michigan and the Quad Cities. [ [ World Bible Quiz Association] ]

Churches of Christ Bible Bowl

The Churches of Christ host various Bible Bowl competitions throughout the U.S., some nationally such as Lads to Leaders or Leadership Training for Christ and some of them are more regional such as the Greatest Southeast Bible Bowl in Huntsville, AL and the Great Lakes Bible Bowl in Michigan. [ [ Website for Lads to Leaders Bible Bowl] ]

Pathfinder Bible Achievement

Pathfinder Bible Achievement has the members of the Bible Bowl team study one book or part of the Bible out of the New King James version. Pathfinders and the Bible Quiz event are run and organized by the Seventh-Day Adventist Church. There are 90 questions in the event.The book or part of the Bible changes every year. There are four different stages in Bible Achievement. First, there is the District level; then the Conference level and Union Conference level. Finally there is the Division level, in Berrien Springs, Michigan. If a team received a first place in a level, they are then allowed to go on to the next level, and so on and so forth. Finding a team's placement is determined by taking the team's score and comparing it with the top score. If the team's score is within 10% of the top score, the team received a first place. If it is within 20%, the team received a second place. Anything under 20% of the top score is a third place. Bible Achievement is for Pathfinders in 5th through 10th grades. [ [ Pathfinder Bible Achievement] ]

Television Program

"Bible Bowl" was a Christian game show in the United States. It had a host, a robot, and two teams (the Bible Boys and the Gospel Girls). It aired on Sunday mornings and was taped at KJRH in Tulsa, Oklahoma. It occasionally appeared on various religious cable television channels in the 1980s.


External links

* [ Official Website of Bible Quiz Fellowship]
* [ Website for National JBQ]
* [ Website for Various Bible Quiz]
* [ - Multi-Denominational Bible Quizzing Forum]
* [ The Quizzing Source]
* [ - Free quizzing resources]
* [ AcmeQuiz - study guides and other resources ]
* [ A branch of Barefoot Ministries - Quizzing and a variety of other Bible related materials ]
* [ BibleQuizPodcast - A podcast about Bible Quiz]
* [ Website for the Great Lakes Bible Bowl in Michigan]
* [ Website for Midwest Leadership Training for Christ Bible Bowl]
* [ Alliance Church Quizzing, Pennsylavania district]
* [ World Bible Quiz Association]
* [ Detroit Bible Quizzing]
* []

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