#51 – Learn From Your Failures (Tips For Large Group Teaching)

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 wrote an article last year called 8 Questions to Determine How Proud You Are.  The fact of the matter is that there is no room for pride for in any ministry, especially in Children’s Ministry.  Our job is to teach kids about our Creator and Savior.  Our ego stands in the way of, and has no place in, that mission.  When we make a mistake, we must be willing to admit it and learn from it.  When that great idea you had to get the kids involved in your lesson strikes out, we have to admit the failure and either improve on the idea or pitch it.

Albert Einstein once said that insanity is:

“…doing the same thing over and over again and expecting different results.”

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#50 – The Power of Sound (Tips For Large Group Teaching)

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.

When you’re watching a movie, oftentimes the background score and many of the sound effects go unnoticed.  But, have you ever watched a movie without sound effects and the background score?  It is a completely different experience.  There are specialists in Hollywood who do nothing but record background music and sound effects for motion pictures, and there work makes all the difference in the world.  Sound, subtle though it may be, creates the atmosphere and tugs at your emotions.  The sound creates a sense of doom or excitement or joyfulness depending on the scene, the music and the effects.

You can use these same techniques with your children’s ministry large group.  With a minimal amount of funds, you can create the same effects that make a movie or television show stand out during your large group teaching.  With an Ipod and a simple adaptor, I can use sound effects and play background music to create the atmosphere in the classroom that matches the story that is being told.  Whether it’s game show music for a game show, storm sound effects for the story of Jesus calming the storm, or suspenseful music to play while telling the story of the crucifixion, sound adds a whole new element to your large group teaching.  And don’t forget, louder is better!

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#49 – Two Are Better Than One (Tips For Large Group Teaching)

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.

One effective method for breaking up your lessons in Children’s Ministry is to use a “team teaching” technique.  When the kids are forced to physically shift their focus from one individual to another, this forces them to play closer attention.  Furthermore, if more than one person is capable of, and comfortable with, presenting a lesson to your large groups, it is lot easier when one person has to be gone.

Team teaching can be as simple as having one person teach the beginning of a lesson and another person teach the end.  Or, one person can serve as the host doing the introduction and conclusion while the other person can do the storytelling.  In you are lucky enough to have more than two people to help with your large group, you can try all kinds of different things.  Position people in different parts of the room so that as you shift teaching from one person to the next, the kids have to physically shift their attention.  Another technique I’ve read about but never had the opportunity to use combines a dark room and team teaching.  In this approach, the room is pitch black.  Various teachers are positioned around the room.  As that person’s turn to speak comes up, a spotlight is shone on them.  If you don’t have spotlights (like me) you can use a desk lamp or flashlight to illuminate the teachers.  The point is that visually the only person the kids can see is the one teaching.  This helps to further focus their attention.  Done right, this technique can be very dramatic and is a great way to tell a story with a narrator and various characters.

There is an old saying, which is supported by Biblical truth, that two are better than one.  This is true in life, and it’s true in teaching as well.

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#48 – Use Special Demonstrations (Tips For Large Group Teaching)

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.

One great way to spice things up in your Children’s Ministry is to invite in guest speakers and people to do live demonstrations.  In addition to giving the kids someone other than you to listen to, it gives the kids another focal point to remember your lesson by.  If it fits with your lesson, invite someone in to talk to the kids.  If you’re talking about Noah’s Ark, invite someone from the local zoo to bring in some animals.  If you are talking about the holiness of God, invite a judge to come in to talk about the law.  If you are telling the story of Gideon, invite someone from the armed forces in to talk about their impression of Gideon’s “strategy.”  Invite your pastor to come talk to the kids.  If you’re talking about Satan as the great deceiver of the brethren, have a magician come in and do some tricks as an example of how you can make things seem completely different than they are.  The possibilities are really endless when it comes to demonstrations.

Here’s one example of how I’ve personally used this technique.  When we were talking about spiritual disciplines, I had my eight-year-old come in and do a karate demonstration.  Then, I interviewed him about the amount of training and practice that goes into doing some of the things he demonstrated.  I concluded by having him teach the kids in the room a simple move they could practice on their own.  Following the demonstration we talked about spiritual disciplines and how you have to train yourself in those areas as well.  The kids had a blast, as did my son, and they still talk about that lesson and remember the point of it today.

If you don’t know where to find people to come show off their skills, just ask!  You’ll be amazed at what you can find in your own congregation.  Like visual aids in general, one key point to remember is that any demonstration you incorporate into your lesson should always have a point.  The demonstration should expand upon or reinforce your lesson.  No matter how much the kids might enjoy them, frivolous demonstrations are a bad stewardship of the time God gives us with the kids in our ministries.

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#47 – The Use of Visual Aids and Focal Points (Tips For Large Group Teaching)

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.

If used incorrectly, the visual aid can easily become tacky and distracting rather than a useful tool.  However, used correctly it can give you a visual focal point for your lesson and give your kids something to easily remember the lesson by.  If you do choose to use a visual aid, it should be something that the kids in your ministry are familiar with.   An outboard motor or coffee maker won’t resonate with the kids and likely won’t add anything to your lesson.  Ideally, you want to pick something so familiar to the kids that they are likely to encounter it in their everyday lives.  Your goal in using a visual aid is that whenever kids see that aid in everyday life it would spark a memory of a particular lesson.

Visual aids can range from the very simple (a sword to represent the Bible) to the very complex (a manger scene with live animals to teach about Christmas).  Remember, you want to pick something that the kids are familiar with.  If you want a boat to use as a visual aid when talking about Jesus walking on water, find a toy boat (or better yet a remote control boat set up in a small pool).  This will likely resonate more with the kids than a life preserver or a picture of a yacht.  Be creative with what you choose for visual aids.  If you’re telling the story of David and Goliath, a sling shot is a choice for a visual aid.  If you practice, you could even put on a little demonstration, though I don’t advise getting the kids involved in that particular demonstration!  If you’re telling the story of Gideon and his army, you could bring in a puppy to help the kids visualize the soldiers by the river who lapped up the water like dogs. The more creative you get, the more likely the kids are to retain the lesson and remember it when they see that visual again.

A couple of warnings about visual aids are important.  First, make sure you check with the appropriate people before using live animals or anything else too far out of the ordinary.   Most importantly, if you are going to use visual aids, remember that they are supposed to be a tool.  They are meant to enhance what you are teaching, but they should not become the focal point of the lesson itself.  That job and position belongs to Jesus alone.  Never let your visual age upstage Christ in your lesson!

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#46 – Using Contrast to Mix Things Up (Tips For Large Group Teaching)

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.

One effective way to regain a child’s attention when their mind starts to wonder during your teaching is to include an abrupt change in your presentation.  This abrupt change can take many forms.  If you’re teaching a very serious portion of your lesson, switch abruptly to something funny.  If your lesson is fast pace, suddenly slow down your presentation speed.  If you’re speaking loudly, drop your volume quickly to something just slightly louder than a whisper.  The sharp contrast in your teaching style will have the effect of drawing the kids back into your lesson.

Along the same lines, another technique which can be very effective when used correctly is silence.  Silence is a powerful thing.  Most people do not care for silence and they drone on and on rather than allow a silent moment.  However, in teaching a silent pause in the middle of your lesson can be very effective.  It allows you to collect your thoughts.  And, it allows the children some time to reflect on the lesson.  In most situation silence generally means the end of what you have to say.  If your silent pause is misperceived as the end of what you are going to say, the kids will be more likely to start listening again to see what comes next.  Be careful though with the power of silence.  If you allow your silent pause to continue on too long, you will start to lose the kids’ attention rather than gaining it.

I’m going to go practice silence right now.  Until next time….

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