by Kelly Presson/ August 3, 2020
If we want to be effective in communicating our message to kids, it is extremely beneficial to greet each child with a warm hello, a fist bump, and possibly a warm pat on the shoulder. Interacting one-on-one with each child as they enter your room, makes a world of difference. When a child feels like they know you and your team, are welcomed and loved as part of a community, their ability to listen and to trust is greatly enhanced.
Train your leadership team to assist you in making a personal contact with every child possible before the service begins. This means not only greeting at the door, but each leader taking time to say hello and interact with kids at their seats.
Pay attention to what kids are wearing or what you hear them discussing to know what they are interested in. Then ask them specific questions pertaining to those things. Ask them about their cat, or the cool glitter clothing they are wearing. Ask about their new shoes, or the sports team or game system on their shirt. These types of questions will take your conversation much further than a simple yes or no answer from a child. Even better than the standard “how old are you question”, when you ask questions about something a child is passionate about, the real connection begins.
Welcome kids to your room as if you had invited them to sit on your living room couch. Imagine meeting someone at the door of your home and saying welcome and then going about your business, pretty much ignoring their presence for the next 90 minutes. That would be a terribly awkward situation for your guest. Let’s make certain our guests at church never feel out of place because we haven’t intentionally welcomed them and connected with them.
**Something often gets overlooked! Make sure that any child who arrives late receives a warm greeting. Many times, late arrivals enter a classroom and are tasked with finding their own place to sit in an already crowded room. The choice made is usually an isolated chair in the back of the room. It is important that every child has a warm reception when they arrive and can find a seat that offers the likelihood of interaction with their peers. Train your leaders to greet and assist with strategic seating for those who may arrive after service has begun.
Make sure you communicate clearly. The Gospel is not complicated. A child’s limited knowledge and understanding, along with their concrete thinking process, make it vitally important that our teaching is simple to understand.
As a matter of fact, I would say that our JOB as Kids Pastors is to make the Gospel simple.
This doesn’t always come naturally, but with intentionality and practice, we can become masters at clear and simple teaching. *Remember, “simple” does not mean a lack of spiritual depth, just a simplified approach and explanation.
Remember, kids are concrete thinkers, so avoid abstract concepts when teaching. Make certain that kids understand concepts and words that you and I take for granted. Explain what a word like “Transformation” means. Then show them an example, such as when a caterpillar transforms into a butterfly. After you illustrate and explain, have small group leaders confirm that they understand certain words or terms.
Even a simple term that many of us have heard our entire lives like, “ask Jesus into your heart”, can bring confusion to a child if not properly explained. That is an abstract concept. Some of your concrete thinkers are going to be wondering how Jesus is going to fit inside their chest, instead of focusing on the need to accept Jesus as their savior, redeemer, and forever friend and King. Instead, you might talk about asking Jesus into your life. Trusting Him to be your Savior and Friend.
Making the Gospel clear and simple means that you and your team are always on the look-out for words being used that kids may not understand. Looking for ways to explain words or phrases that might not be fully understood when teaching kids. Then breaking it down in kid-friendly terms.
When we stay intentional and have the combined support of each member of our team, we can help each other proclaim the powerful Gospel of Jesus Christ in a clear and understandable fashion for all our students.
As I feel certain you are aware, kids LOVE SILLY! I believe that it is important for kids to look forward to attending our ministries because it is created with their interests in mind. Kids enjoy laughing and having a good time while learning, so include silly/funny elements that create a fun learning environment.
One of my favorites is a character or puppet who gets the “Big Idea of the Day” or the Scripture Memory Verse completely confused. These are examples of adding just the right amount of silly in our services that kids roll their eyes, smile, laugh and enjoy.
Adding a little bit of humor to a skit or drama such as throwing a little water into the face of an actor who has mentioned that he is thirsty, or dragging a limp prisoner off stage by one arm are great ways to add just a touch of whimsy to an otherwise serious message.
Using visual or word humor can also be great ways to bring out the giggles in your audience. An example of this would be to have a young leader walk out with a poster board that is covered with large pictures of green olives when your Bible lesson contains a reference to the Mount of Olives. The young leader is sincere in their efforts to assist by bringing this example, now the teacher would then explain to the room full of concrete thinkers that it wasn’t a mountain of Olives, the Mount of Olives was the name of the mountain that is mentioned. The kids will enjoy this silliness because even though they are aware that it wasn’t a literal Mountain of Olives, they can identify how someone might have thought that for a moment.
Be creative, look for short moments where you can add just a little silly. This helps keep kids engaged and focused as well as making your messages memorable.
Be on the lookout for parts 2 and 3 to cover ways 4 through 9 on more effective ways to teach kids!