National Bible Bee

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National Bible Bee
BibleBee 2010.png
Motto "Family Discipleship, One verse at a time."[1]
Headquarters Wilmington, Ohio
Region served United States
Executive Director Mark McMahan
Parent organization The Shelby Kennedy Foundation

The National Bible Bee is a Bible quiz held for the first time in 2009 by the Shelby Kennedy Foundation. The competition starts with local contests across the United States. The top 100 contestants from each age group (Primary, ages 7–10; Junior, ages 11–14; and Senior, ages 15–18) advance to the National level. In 2009, the national level was held in Washington, D.C. on November 5–6, 2009.[2] More than $260,000 in prize money is awarded, with the winner in the Senior age category winning $100,000.[3] The organization claims that this is the "largest prize of any academic competition of its kind".[4]

Origins and philosophy[edit]

The National Bible Bee is sponsored by the Shelby Kennedy Foundation.[5] Shelby Kennedy, who died of cancer at the age of 23, spent all of her life studying the Bible. After her death, a non-profit ministry, The Shelby Kennedy Foundation, was established in her name to commemorate her by encouraging children and youth to memorize Scripture.[6]

While the National Bible Bee promises large cash prizes for at least nine of the top-place finalists,[7] Both local and national competition will involve oral and written tests.[8] The Bee has the larger goal of encouraging young people in the Christian faith, such as by becoming more biblically literate. Their website states, "The vision for the Bible Bee is to encourage parents as they disciple their children through in-depth study of the Word of God, Scripture memorization, and prayer."[9] The organization also has a statement of faith stating a set of fundamental doctrines for Christianity;[10] though this statement is not made a requirement for competition, the contestants and their families must agree not to dispute any of the doctrines in any stage of competition.[8]


Competition is divided into local and national levels. Local competition is not administrated directly by the Shelby Kennedy Foundation, but rather by separate entities known as Local Planning Committees. Though these committees are not legally related to the Shelby Kennedy Foundation, they are the only source of finalists for the national competition. The highest-scoring hundred contestants in each age category proceeds to the national competition, which in the inaugural competition year was held at the J.W. Marriott Hotel in Washington, D.C.;[11] the 2010 competition was held at the Marriott Renaissance Hotel and Conference Center in Schaumburg, Illinois.[7] The 2011 National Bible Bee was held in Nashville, Tennessee, and the 2012 and 2013 National Bible Bee was held at the Wilderness Stone Hill Lodge and Sevierville Events Center in Sevierville, Tennessee. It was announced during the 2013 National Bible Bee that the 2014 National Bible Bee competition would be held in Orlando, Florida at the Hilton Orlando Lake Buena Vista.


Eligibility for the National Bible Bee is restricted to United States citizens, including residents of the District of Columbia and children of U.S. Armed Forces personnel stationed overseas. Close relatives of members the Shelby Kennedy Foundation or others who have worked on the contest content are allowed to compete; however, they may not win prize money at the National Bible Bee Contest.

Contestants are divided into three age groups: primary (ages 7–10), junior (ages 11–14) and senior (ages 15–18).[12]

Study materials[edit]

The Bible Bee's competition material includes both memory work and an in-depth study on a selected book of the Bible.[13]

Contestants are required to memorize a number of verses. From 2010 to 2011, the required number of verses was 800 for Seniors, 500 for Juniors, and 250 for Primaries. In oral competition the contestants must recite the passages they are asked word-for-word from any of four approved English versions (KJV, NKJV, NASB, or ESV). Points are deducted for extra or omitted words. In addition, comprehension of these verses is tested in a multiple-choice written test.

Bible knowledge[edit]

In 2009, all the contestants were to study Genesis, 1 & 2 Samuel, Matthew, Acts, and Romans.

Starting in 2010, all contestants receive a Sword Study Handbook, which is a study guide for a single book of the Bible. Comprehension of this book of the Bible is tested on a written test. Parents receive a Parent Guidebook, which contains guidelines for helping their children study that book of the Bible.

The Bible Knowledge book for 2010 was Colossians.[14]

The Bible Knowledge book for 2011 was 1 Peter. As of 2011, the contestants who advanced to Nationals were given a new book of the bible to study, which was announced when the National competitors were announced. In 2011, this book was 2 Peter.

The Bible Knowledge book for 2012 was 2 Timothy. The book the contestants were to study for nationals in 2012 was 1 Timothy.

The Bible Knowledge book for 2013 was 1 John. The book the contestants studied for nationals in 2013 was Ephesians.

The Bible Knowledge book for 2014 was Jonah. The book the contestants studied for nationals in 2014 was Nahum.

Competition format[edit]

The location for the national competition in was Sevierville, Tennessee. 120 contestants were chosen from each age category to compete at the national competition in Tennessee in November. All contestants participated in a preliminary round featuring both a written exam and an oral recitation round. The semi-finals featured the top 15 contestants from each division competing in a single-elimination recitation format for five spots in the final challenge round. The format for finals changed from the format used in previous years. Round 1 featured each of the 5 finalists reciting a passage from memory, with points deducted for errors. The maximum points for round 1 was 3,000 points. Rounds 2-5 were open-ended Bible knowledge questions where contestants were given 30 seconds to write their answer on an iPad tablet. Each question was worth 1,000 points. Round 6 again required contestants to recite a passage from memory worth 3,000 points. The total possible points for the final challenge round was 10,000 points, with winners being determined by their cumulative scores from all 6 rounds. Ties were broken by using the contestant's scores from the preliminary round at the national competition.


  1. ^ "Learn It to Live It". HSLDA. November 2008. Retrieved March 2, 2010. 
  2. ^ "First Baptist offering enrollment in National Bible Bee program". The News-Reporter. March 26, 2009. Retrieved April 15, 2009. 
  3. ^ Leichman, Aaron (October 5, 2008). "First National 'Bible Bee' to Be Held". The Christian Post. Retrieved April 12, 2009. 
  4. ^ "National Awards". National Bible Bee. Retrieved April 23, 2009. [dead link]
  5. ^ Leichmann, Aaron J. (26 January 2009). "‘Bible Bee’ Deadline Draws Near; Communities Urged to Register". The Christian Post. Retrieved April 13, 2009. 
  6. ^ Rasche, Kit (November 11, 2008). "Introducing the National Bible Bee". Christian News Wire. Retrieved April 13, 2009. 
  7. ^ a b "Nationals 2010". National Bible Bee. Retrieved March 2, 2010. 
  8. ^ a b "Contest Rules". National Bible Bee. Retrieved April 23, 2009. [dead link]
  9. ^ "About us". National Bible Bee. Retrieved March 2, 2010. 
  10. ^ "Statement of Faith". National Bible Bee. Retrieved March 2, 2010. 
  11. ^ "2009 NBB Competition Contest". National Bible Bee. Retrieved April 23, 2009. 
  12. ^ "Bible Bee planned". Fairbanks Daily News-Miner. April 1, 2009. Retrieved April 15, 2009. 
  13. ^ "Bible Bee Overview". National Bible Bee. Retrieved March 2, 2010. 
  14. ^ "Bible Bee Materials". National Bible Bee. Retrieved June 26, 2010. 

External links[edit]