Welcome to a continuing series of tips on working with large groups of children. I hope that you will find these tips useful and be able to implement them in your dealings with large groups of kids. If you do, please leave a comment and let us know. For a complete list of posts in this series, please see the index page. So, without further introduction, here is today’s installment.
I read an article recently from an older gentleman who was told that he was now too old to be involved in Children’s Ministry. The consensus in the comments to that article was that the ability to serve in Children’s Ministry has nothing to do with age and everything to do with staying relevant. By relevant, it just means that you must put yourself in a position to talk to the kids in your classroom about the things they do and the things they like.
For me, this is easy because of my circumstances. I teach 5-6 year olds and I have both a six year old girl and an eight year old boy at home. Hardly a week goes by where I have not watched an episode of Zach & Cody on Deck or listened to Hannah Montana. I know who Phineas and Ferb are. I know what video games they like because I buy them. Truth be told, I like to play them as well. I know what the new game systems are. We have several of them at our house. I’ve seen the latest movies. I know what the kids see on television and in the movies. I know what kind of foods they like and the newest gimmicks in the grocery stores. I follow the same sports. I know the difference between a Bakugan and a Pokeman. I use facebook and twitter. In my case, I don’t have to make a concerted effort to go out and learn these things because they are part of my everyday life. Even given my circumstance, I still have to make a concerted effort to take note of what I see and observe. Being immersed in kid culture does me no good in conversation if I can’t remember any of it.
If you are in a different circumstance, you might have to do a little more work to keep up. Subscribe to a kids’ magazine. Watch the occasional kids program on TV. Go to a kids’ movie. Anymore, most of the kids’ movies that are made include enough stuff for adults to at least entertain you a little bit while you’re learning. If you don’t know where to start, ask the kids. Years ago when my kids were much younger and I was working with a class of 2nd graders, I asked them all what their favorite television shows were. They loved telling me about them, and I made a point to find and watch each show they mentioned that week. Over the course of the next year, it gave me a launching point for conversations that enabled me to really connect with them.
In terms of large group teaching, it’s great to be able to engage the kids in things that they are already interested in. Play off of the things they already know to teach them the truths of the Bible. You never know when you might see a relevant story you can use as a parable on the Disney channel or Nickelodeon. And, if you don’t know what Nickelodeon is or that Disney even has a television station – you have a lot of work to do! You better get crackin’!