#45 – Teach From Their Level (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 I was 21, my best friend’s sister had a baby.  I remember going over to his house one day and walking upstairs where he was playing with the new baby.  As I walked into the room, I noticed that they were having a great time.  Having a great time, that is, until the baby turned around and noticed me.  I’m a big guy (about 6’5”), and the sight of me sent him into hysterics.  That pattern continued for several years.  When my friend’s nephew was two, he backed off a porch one day when he saw me coming.  Back then, I never would have imagined that God would have Children’s Ministry in my future.  The interesting thing was that when I was sitting down my friend’s nephew would walk right up and play with me.  You see, to him I was some sort of giant until I sat down and dealt with him on his level.

The same technique works in Children’s Ministry.  See, we look big to the kids in our ministry.  To them, we are just like all the other adults in their lives whose primary reason for existence is to tell them what to do.  In Children’s Ministry, our role is not to just give them a list of things we want them to, or not to, do but to explain that God wants to have a relationship with them and what that relationship looks like.  While they should recognize the authority we have in the classroom, when we are talking about our relationship with God we are all brothers and sisters, not teachers and students.  Sometimes it will do a great deal of good to get on their level when presenting your lesson.  Sit down or get down on the ground so that you’re looking straight into their eyes rather than looking down on them.  Physically and figuratively, we should not be in a position where we are looking down on the kids in our ministry.

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#44 – Read To Them (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.

Many people think of reading stories to kids as something you do in the nursery or preschool classes.  They reject it as an effective means for teaching elementary aged kids.  The fact of the matter is that most kids like stories, and they like to be read to.  I wouldn’t want to read them a book every weekend, but it is an effective means to break up your lessons a little bit by mixing in a week every now and then where you pull up a chair or sit on the floor and just read them a story.

There are some great books out there that I turn to from time to time for use in children’s ministry.  One of my favorites is The Jesus Storybook Bible which made #2 in my list of the Top Ten Christian Books for Kids.  Combining great storytelling with compelling images, this book is perfect for captivating kids and will be a great resource for your children’s minsitry.  The biggest problem I have when I use it is that I find the kids crowding in trying to take in every picture and every word.  I read it to my kids at home (ranging from age 2 to almost 9), and they all love it.  Of course, there are also other great kids’ storybook bibles out there that you can read from.

Of course, the classic book that you should read from every week is the Bible.  Frankly, this one should be a bit of a “no brainer.”  Our lessons should be taken directly from God’s Word, so why not read the verses you are teaching from to the kids you are teaching?  Don’t just tell them what’s in the book, read it to them so they can see it for themselves.  Reading from the Bible, in addition to whatever else you do in your lesson, should build excitement about God’s Word in their hearts.

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#43 – Don’t Be Afraid to Admit That You May Be Too Old (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.

Whether you’re 22 or 42, there may be times when you are too old to be the best person to relate to a bunch of young children.  Find kids who are just a little bit older than the kids in your ministry to help you out.  Children tend to relate to and bond well with kids who are just a little bit older than they are.  Let’s face it – they’re cooler than you are.  Use this to your advantage.  Have the middle school kids in your church come and teach the elementary age kids every once in a while.  Build a high school worship team for your Children’s Ministry.  Using older kids to help you out is particularly effective in getting kids involved in worship.  They are much more willing to open up, sing and dance if they see an older teenage boy leading worship.  Find older kids to help you with sound and video (they’re probably better at it that you anyhow).  If you don’t know which kids to ask, ask their parents.  Although some can be a bit biased and blind to reality when it comes to their own kids, most parents know whether or not their children are good with younger kids.

Here another free tip.  If you’re having trouble keeping up on the latest trends and cultural phenomena, find a middle schooler.  They’re still young enough to know what the younger kids like, and they’re old enough to talk to you about them.  No of us likes to admit that we’re old, but sometimes it is in the best interest of the kids that we minister to to admit it.

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#42 – Be Specific With Your Application (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.

Many lessons include an application or challenge to the kids which is generally a great idea. However, you have to be careful not to be too vague in making applications.  Give the kids something specific to do.  Encourage them to tell someone about Jesus that week or invite a friend to church.  Follow up the next week and find out which kids followed through.  Who did tell someone about Jesus and who invited someone to church?  If you’re teaching a lesson on what the Bible has to say about itself, encourage the kids to read at least a chapter a day in their Bible for one week, and then have them tell you what they learned.  If you’re teaching the story of creation, encourage the kids to make a list that week of five things they notice in the world around them that are so awesome that God MUST have made them.  If you’re teaching about prayer, have them write down at least one thing they can pray for themselves that week and one person they can pray for that week and encourage them to make those prayers each night.  Kids don’t tend to deal in the generalities – they like something specific that they can do!

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#41 – Step Into The Story (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.

Storytelling is a vital part of teaching.   There is no quicker way to lose the attention of a group of kids than to just stand up and read them a story.  Stories were not meant to be just read – they were meant to be told!  One tip I picked up from some of the books I’ve read on the subject is to make yourself part of the story.  As you’re telling the kids a story, whether it be from the Bible or some other source, step in and out of the story and become one of the characters.  Take on that character’s personality, accent and mannerisms.  If you’re telling the story of Jesus walking on the water, become Peter when you get to the part of the story  where he asks the Lord to allow him to walk on water.  Express his amazement as he walks on water and his despair and fear as he starts to sink.  As you step into and out of the story, there is no need to announce that you are doing it (as in, “if I were Peter I would say…”).  If your storytelling is effective, the kids will recognize what you are doing without ever missing a beat.  Stepping into the story is one of many ways you can make your storytelling more effective and engaging.  It’s also one of the simplest ways.

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#40 – Play With Them (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.

There is no denying that kids like to have fun.  Watch a group of five-year-olds with nothing to play with or play on, and they will still find some way to have fun.  In our roles as teachers and disciple makers in Children’s Ministry, we sometimes lose sight of important things like having fun.  One of the best ways I have found of forming lasting bonds with kids is to play with them.  On Wednesday nights at Awana, surrounded by hundreds of kids, I always try to find some time to shoot some baskets, or push a kid on a scooter, or play catch.  There is something about playing and having fun that forms a bond that conversation can’t match.  In addition, it’s a good way to connect with shier kids who don’t like to talk.  Whether you’re leading the kids in a game or just observing, get involved – play with them!

So, what does this look like in large group setting?  Well, first of all, it means making sure that you take a serious, but still light hearted, approach to teaching.  Just because the material we are teaching is on eternal importance doesn’t forbid us from having fun with the kids we have been given stewardship of.  Make a joke here and there.  Engage the kids in conversation.  Laugh when you goof up (you will goof up at some point).  Play games.  Keep them guessing.  Be goofy.  Whatever you do, find a way to incorporate fun into your lesson.  You won’t regret it.

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