Get them to come in
Spurgeon begins this chapter of instructions for teachers with the following simple instruction:
“First, get the children to come to your school.”
Spurgeon implores teachers to get kids to come to their churches “by all fair and right means.” Indeed, Spurgeon advocates every persuasive means short of bribery to get kids to come to church. Indeed, we should try all means to get kids into our Children’s Ministries. Spurgeon puts the endeavor in the correct spiritual context:
“Go and catch the children. There is no law against it; all is fair in war against the devil. So my first instruction is, get the children, and get them anyhow that you can.”
Many in the church today feel that Children’s Ministries cater too much to kids and should be a lot more serious. While I do believe that part of our duty as teachers of children is to teach them reverence for God and his word, I agree wholeheartedly with Spurgeon when he says:
“Better do strange things than have an empty chapel, or an empty schoolroom.”
If we must seem foolish and juvenile to the adults in order to get the children to come back, then that is what we must do!
Get them to Love You
Spurgeon’s second piece of advice to teachers is to “get the children to love you.” Spurgeon points to the biblical lesson of David who in Psalm 34:11:
“Come, O children, listen to me;
I will teach you the fear of the Lord.”
Spurgeon explains that rather than telling kids to “go” do this and “go” do that, David beckoned the children to come to him. Children appreciate and like a teacher who they feel wants to know them.
“The fault of many teachers is that they do not get their children near them; but endeavour to foster in their scholars a kind of awful respect. Before you can teach children, you must get the silver key of kindness to unlock their hearts, and so secure their attention.”
Children pick up on non-verbal clues perhaps even better than adults. Teach a child about the love of God when you bring bitterness and contempt to the classroom and they will see straight through you! Spurgeon further explains:
“So, if a boy has a teacher who talks to him about Jesus, but who always wears a sour look, what does the boy think?”
We must always be on the top of our game when it comes to working with Children. If you do not love the children and get them to love you, your opportunity to influence them and teach them about God is gone. Spurgeon wraps it up this way:
“If you drive a boy from you, your power over him is gone, for you will not be able to teach him anything. It is of no avail to attempt teaching those who do not love you; so, try and make them love you, and then they will learn anything from you.”
Get their attention
If you can’t find a way to get the kids to pay attention to you, no matter what you say, you will not have an impact on their lives. No matter how eloquent you speak, no matter how well prepared you are, if they do not pay attention, you have labored in vain. Spurgeon explains that getting kids to pay attention is actually quite easy – if you give something worth hearing they will definitely pay attention. He also advises that you include a number of stories each week to keep the kids interested:
“Do try and gather as many good illustrations in the week as you possibly can; wherever you go, if you are really a wise teacher, you can always find something to make into a tale to tell your children.”
Spurgeon furthers advises that when you read and when you listen and when you watch, no matter what you are doing, watch out for illustrations and stories you can use in teaching kids.
Beginning next week, I am starting a multi-week (probably multi-month) series full of numerous tips for dealing with a large group of children. This series includes a number of good ideas for getting and keeping your kids attention and “giving them something worth listening to.” I hope you will check it out!
Links to Complete Text
If you’re interested in reading the complete text of “Come Ye Children,” it can be found on at: http://www.spurgeon.org/misc/cyc.htm
The complete text of Chapter Eleven can be found at: http://www.spurgeon.org/misc/cyc11.htm
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