When I was a boy going to church on Sunday nights, one of my favorite activities was called the “Sword Drill,” but it had nothing to do with swords other than the Bible as a metaphor for “the word of the Lord” that is “sharper than any two-edged word” (Heb. 4:10). We’d all line up, holding our special stiff-backed sword drill Bibles (I still have mine), held to our sides. The teacher would give the command “Attention!” and we’d stand up straight, then “Draw Swords!” and we’d get our Bibles into position, lying flat on one hand, with the other poised to turn pages. After calling out a scripture verse, the teacher would say “Charge!” and we’d start flipping through the pages, stepping forward when we’d found the verse and put our finger on it.
I knew my way around the Bible from an early age, so even though my physical coordination wasn’t much to brag about, I tended to win more often than not: if you’re the only kid who knows where to find Habakkuk or Jude, you don’t have to get there very fast.
I would probably not do as well with another type of Bible-flavored drill that’s becoming popular among children and young people in the National Baptist Convention: they’re forming drill teams who do step dancing moves while reciting scripture or shouting Christian-themed slogans. In fact 44 teams have been competing this week at the Charlotte Convention Center during the 104th meeting of the National Baptist Convention: it’s serious business.
Leaders and participants say the drill teams give kids something wholesome to do while teaching them discipline and the importance of working together. I like it: the theological content of shouted slogans may not be deep, but the practice of learning to get in step with scripture and to stay in step with each other can go along way toward building more confident youth who will become better adults.