FORTVILLE — This school year, after her homework was done, Annie Keerns often set aside time for a little more studying.

As one of the Junior Bible Quiz team members at New Life Christian Fellowship, Annie had 576 questions about the Bible to study for team competitions at various churches from October through the spring. So she’d spend an extra 15 to 30 minutes every other day — or if a competition was near, every day — looking over the material or having her mother ask her questions.

Annie, 12, just wrapped up her third year of competing. Over that time, she’s become more deeply convinced of the need to be prepared.

“It’s really fun, but it takes a lot of effort,” she said. “At our first meet, I realized how much it pays off.”

Story continues below gallery

The payoff has been big for Annie and her New Life teammates competing in the fourth- to sixth-grade age group, the oldest in the competition: This year, they qualified a team for the first time for the National Junior Bible Quiz Festival in Naperville, Illinois.

“That was their goal all year,” said Amanda Holzhausen, one of the coaches at New Life. “They were so excited.”

In Junior Bible Quiz, two teams of up to four students (with an alternate) compete against each other to answer questions from the list of 576 questions about the Bible. Some are short-answer questions; others, known as “quotation questions,” require quoting a Bible verse word for word.

“You can’t get anything wrong,” said Trevor Bagnall, a first-year competitor on the second- and third-grade team. “It has to be exact.”

Competitors appear to often have a favorite question from the list. For example, Isabelle Strege’s favorite is quoting Romans 8:38-39: “For I am convinced that neither death nor life, neither angels nor demons, neither the present nor the future, nor any powers, neither height nor depth, nor anything else in all creation, will be able to separate us from the love of God that is in Christ Jesus our Lord.”

Isabelle, who competed this year for the second- and third-grade team, “just lights up when she says it,” Holzhausen said.

When a question is read, those who know the answer press a buzzer. The buzzer hit first lights up, and the question reader calls on that quizzer. For a correct answer, that team receives the point value of the question – 10, 20 or 30 points. For an incorrect answer, that team loses half the point value of the question.

According to team members, it’s important to buzz in before the end of the question.

“You don’t want to buzz in at the last word because then you won’t get it,” Annie said.

“It’s just whoever buzzes in first gets it,” said team member Hans Holzhausen.

But buzzing in too early brings a price; some of the questions begin with the same first few words. For this reason, more advanced quizzers study not only the answers but also the questions and their “interruption points,” the word at which the question is distinguished from all of the others.

Each competition is a series of round-robin two-team contests. At smaller competitions, every team faces all of the rest; at larger competitions, such as the 80-team national festival, each team faces a pool of teams.

The team with the best overall record from the two-team matches will come out on top; a team’s points earned for correct answers help break ties between teams who earn the same record in a day. For example, the three teams behind New Life at the state meet all went 7-2 on the day (New Life went 8-1), but their point values separated them into second through fourth places.

Contest coordinators also keep track of individual performance. Hans Holzhausen was the individual winner of the state meet in March, when his team also won first place and an automatic bid for the national competition. He was not the only Hancock County competitor in the top 10. Juliannah Jenkins, competing for Realife Church in Greenfield, placed seventh.

Teams and individuals earn stars for their placings, which end up on team members’ shirts, with team stars on one sleeve and individual stars on the other. Quizzers can also earn patches for achievements such as correctly quoting all of the quotation questions.

Bagnall has one white star, two green and one gold. “I’m trying to get all the colors,” he said.

He has more time to do that if he chooses to continue quizzing. Annie, though, has just finished sixth grade and so has wrapped up her final year of Junior Bible Quiz. But she believes the experience of studying all those Bible verses will stay with her.

“Maybe, like, when I’m an adult helping my kids” with rough times, she said, “I’ll remember.”

Fast facts
  • New Life Christian Fellowship’s fourth- to sixth-grade team that won state in March earned 2,155 points, 250 points ahead of the second-place team.
  • The team finished 15th in the Great Lakes Region tournament May 1-2 at Dayspring Church in Bowling Green, Ohio.
  • New Life’s second- and third-grade team finished fourth at state, led by a second-place individual finish by Darla Holzhausen.
  • This is the third year for New Life Christian Fellowship to field Junior Bible Quiz teams. For more information, email coach Amanda Holzhausen at
  • Junior Bible Quiz is part of the Children’s Ministries of the Assemblies of God; learn more at or
  • The last Indiana team to win the national Junior Bible Quiz did so in 1999; it was from First Assembly of God in Lafayette, which also fielded the 1996 national champion.