Tag Archives: church

Sunday School Teacher Handbook Free Download

Available now! Free download of the first three chapters from the Sunday School Teacher Handbook in Amharic – የሰንበት ትምህርት አስተማሪዎች መመሪያ

Sunday School Teacher Handbook

You can purchase the full version of the book at Beza International, TK Bld, Addis Ababa.

From the introduction of the handbook:

Children praising God. Children expressing their faith in Jesus. Children knowing who Jesus is. It happened in the days when Jesus walked on this earth. It is happening today as well. What will we do? Will we encourage them and help them to grow in their relationship with God? Jesus sent money changers and merchants out of the temple area. But he did not send the children away, because their praises were ordained by God. And their praises are ordained today as well!

As the church, we need to provide a special place for the children. It is up to us to provide them with a place where they feel welcomed, loved and treasured. What are some of the characteristics of such a place? It will be a place where they:

  • can worship wholeheartedly in ways they enjoy
  • want to come because the Word of God is presented to them in creative ways
  • grow spiritually
  • experience God’s presence
  • learn what it looks like to follow Jesus in their own lives
  • can trust and know their teachers
  • can talk about things that happen in their lives
  • can find someone who will listen to them and pray for them
  • a place where God is glorified

We, the church, can provide a place like that.

With the Sunday School Teacher Handbook, I hope to inspire you to dream big dreams for your children and your ministry. I hope you will see opportunities you were perhaps never aware of. I hope your passion and commitment to reaching children with the Word of God will grow. I also want to give you lots of practical tips to help you grow in your role as Sunday School Teacher – one of the most exciting volunteer roles you can imagine! The potential is enormous the the results eternal. Are you ready?

Download the first three chapters in Amharic: Sunday School Teacher Handbook. The handbook covers many topics such as learning styles, how to prepare a lesson, creative teaching methods, storytelling techniques, discipline, how to lead a child to Christ, and more. Buy the full book at Beza International, TK Bld, Addis Ababa.

 

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Small Groups

Ministry is most effective  within relationships. And the easiest way for us to build relationships with our children in Sunday School is through Small Groups. Jesus modelled this for us. He had his own Small Group of twelve disciples. Small Groups are the perfect setting for building relationships. One teacher and up to twelve kids see each other every week (or every two weeks), talk about how to live their lives for Jesus, share their experiences, and hold each other accountable; that is the perfect setting to cultivate relationships and to see children grow spiritually. Week after week the teacher shows the children that he cares about them, that he remembers the details of previous conversations, that he takes them seriously and that loves to have fun with them. Can you see it? It is so beautiful. As the relationships grow, the teacher gains the right to speak into the lives of the kids, and he gets to be ministered to by the children, too.

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Building relationships takes time and effort and it does not happen overnight. You must be willing to invest, just like Jesus invested in his disciples. In order to facilitate this, I always keep the rule that volunteers must come every week or every two weeks. No exceptions. When I started in Children’s Ministry, I volunteered once a month and real relationships simply did not develop. It just doesn’t work. If a child doesn’t come the week that you are there, you won’t see that child for two months! If you are serious about reaching kids, volunteering every 2 weeks is no big deal at all, and it will actually make it much, much more rewarding for everyone involved.img_6092

Kids are desperate for adults who will invest in them in this way. I have seen it happen so many times; suddenly kids start to share very personal stories, or they ask questions that have been on their minds for a long time. They are waiting for an opportunity to share with someone – someone they can trust, someone who will actually listen, someone who genuinely cares and who will pray for them. Sadly, often kids don’t have many adults in their lives who are really there for them. If you are willing to invest your time, you can be the person for them. The kids are waiting to have this barrier broken in their lives – the barrier of not really knowing people in their church, people in Children’s Ministry. And this barrier keeps them from getting closer to Jesus. They are waiting for someone. Will you be that person for them?

So what do you do in a Small Group? Check out some of our lesson samples to get some ideas!

Joseph - Living for God Sample Lesson

 

Acts Sample Lesson

 

He Loves Me sample lesson

 

For more on the importance of building relationships, read Barrier #1: No Relationships, or read the series starting at From Barriers to Values.

You can also download the full document From Barriers to Values.

 

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Acts Curriculum

Coming soon!

acts cover
A Children’s Ministry Curriculum based on the book of Acts. Includes 14 Large Group – Small Group lessons.

The stories in Acts are filled with important, powerful, transforming lessons! Kids  will discover that God calls them to live their lives fully devoted to Him, and how they can reach out to the world around them. Twelve lessons are based on the book of Acts, one lesson focusses on how God uses kids all over the world today, and the series concludes with a lesson about Heaven.

Different creative teaching methods are used in each lesson. Highly practical. Uses only easy-to-find-materials. Reproducibles included.

Price: $24.99

Contact us if you want to be notified at the time of the release of this series!

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Barrier #5: I Don’t Understand!

We were asked to do Sunday School at a church one day, and I asked one of the girls in my small group her name.
“Grace,” she answered.
“That’s a beautiful name!” I responded. Knowing about the importance of the meaning of names in her culture, I asked her, “Do you know what it means?”
“Yes,” she said, and she proceeded to tell me something that was completely off.
I hesitated. “That’s not quite right,” I said. “Does anyone else know what ‘grace’ means?”
Several children attempted to answer, but none of them knew what ‘grace’ meant. It was a word they had heard many times in church, but they didn’t know what it meant.

Grace. Mercy. Repentance. Sin. Salvation. All these words are often used in churches, but I wonder how many children have an accurate understanding of what words like these mean. Add to that the fact that young children take things very literally.

“You must be washed by the blood of Jesus!”
“Really? Eeewww. I don’t want to do that!”

We must be careful in how we communicate with our children. Often times kids won’t ask what a word means, especially if they have been coming to church many years, have heard the words many times, and sense that they should somehow have caught on to the meaning of the words long ago. Not understanding “christianese” can be a barrier for the kids in our Children’s Ministry programs.

Strategy 10: Value Child Appropriate Language
Pay attention to words and expressions, and casually explain the meaning to the kids as you teach. Often, when I talk about sin, I just insert a short and clear description: “Sin separates us from God. God does not like sin – all the bad things we do and say and think.” By doing this repeatedly without putting much emphasis on the fact that “I am teaching you is a definition now”, kids will pick up on the meaning of these words, and that in turn will help them understand important concepts that are key to our faith.

What else can we do to conquer this barrier – the 5th barrier we have looked at so far?

Age Groups 
This barrier also presents itself when parents insist on having a child join a group that they are too young for. I have dealt with this issue many times, and tell parents that their child should really attend the class that is right for their age as they will be able to understand what is happening there. Sometimes parents are very persistent, but I choose to be more persistent yet. Children who do not understand what is happening in class will also become disruptive, taking away from the children who are able to understand what is being taught. So I choose to stand up for these other kids, and insist that children should be in their age-appropriate classes.

Mother Tongue
Some churches also face language barriers in terms of dealing with different languages. The church may be an English speaking church in a place where most people speak another language. Sometimes parents want their children to learn English, and send their kids to Sunday School for that reason. Whenever I sensed that this was the case in the church I used to be at, I gently told the parents that Sunday School is not the place to learn a new language, but it is a place to learn about God. And since we want the message of God’s Word to reach our hearts, it is best to learn in the language that will most easily reach our hearts – our mother tongue. Therefore children should attend a class in their own language if possible. If more than one language is spoken in a church or the area, consider having small groups in these different languages. For example, you may have a group for Spanish 6-8-year-olds and a group for English 6-8-year-olds. In this way, when they interact with the story and talk about the application, they can do so freely as they can do it in their own language.

Coming Soon – Barrier #6: I am SO Smart!

Read the articles in this series:
From Barriers to Values
Barrier #1: No Relationship
Barrier #2: Church is Boring
Strategy 3: Value Fun
Strategy 4: Value Creativity
Strategy 5: Value Learning Styles
Strategy 6: Value the Uniqueness of Childhood
Barrier #3: Poor Presentation
Strategy 8: Value Storytelling Techniques
Barrier #4: It’s Just a Bunch of History

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Barrier #4: It’s Just a Bunch of History

Our youth group leader once asked us this question: If someone were to observe you live your life, but he would never actually talk to you, would he be able to tell that you are a Christian? Frankly, this question scared me. I thought, “Oh, no! What if this person couldn’t? How is a person supposed to be able to tell that I am a Christian through the way I live anyway?” I started to look for answers by listening carefully to pastors on Sunday mornings. For years I sat in church on Sunday mornings, waiting for them to tell me what I should DO with the things they preached. But sadly, they never did. They preached wonderful sermons, and I agreed with most of the theological things they talked about, but then, as they neared the end of the sermon, and I was waiting for them to tell me how to apply this to my life, the sermon came to an end. They never did tell me. I was not able to find an answer in church.

I wanted to know how I should live my life as a Christian. I wanted to know what it should look like on Monday at 6:23 AM and on Thursday at 11:35 AM and on Friday at 8:56 PM. You see, I knew most of the Bible stories. I had heard them in Sunday School, at the Christian schools I had attended, and at home every evening after supper as we read the Bible together. But somehow, hearing the stories and understanding how to apply them to my life were two different things, and they were disconnected. No one taught me how and therefore, when I was 26 years old, I still didn’t know how to do that. For the most part, the stories in the Bible were stories, and that was it. They were historical accounts of things that happened to people a long time ago. But I did not know how to move on to the next level.

So if I, as a 26-year-old, having gone to church all my life, could not figure it out, how do we expect children to know how to do it? The answer is that they won’t know, unless we teach them how to do it. If we don’t, we leave a major barrier in place. This is Barrier #4: The Bible is Just a Bunch of History, and we must implement a value to conquer the barrier.

Strategy #9: Value Relevance, Practical Application

Years after the challenge that was given by our youth leader, God intervened in our lives. I read books written by Floyd McClung and Loren Cunningham and other authors from YWAM. Praise God, those books did provide the answer to my question. God totally changed our lives around during that season. We also started to use the FLIPT curriculum from Promiseland (Willow Creek) in Children’s Ministry in our church in Canada. Each and every single lesson had a clear, practical application for the lives of the children. Each week the kids learned how to apply a story from the Bible to their lives. I was super excited. I had been struggling with this for years, and here these kids were, in church, learning how to do this, every single week! I saw this value in action, and I strongly believe that this is a vital strategy as we reach out to our kids.

I wholeheartedly believe that we must give our children clear, relevant, practical examples to show them how the stories connect with their lives. The more specific our examples are, the easier it is for the kids to understand what we mean. Instead of saying “When someone is mean to you, you should show kindness”, make it specific and say, “When your sister says, ‘Leave me alone, you little brat!’ and you feel like saying something mean back to her, don’t give in to the temptation. Be kind instead.”

Let me give some examples from our Joseph – Living for God lessons to show what I mean. In our lessons we call it “The Connection”, as it connects the story to the lives of the kids.

Joseph is Tempted – Genesis 39. The connection: Joseph said ‘no’ to temptation, and so can we. What kinds of temptations do the children in your group face? Here are some possible questions:

You are upset with your brother because he read a secret note you had in your notebook and he told his friends about it. You feel like telling your friends something embarrassing about your brother to get even with him. What can you do to say ‘no’ to temptation?

You broke you sister’s shoelace when you borrowed her shoes without asking. No one knows you did it, and you put them back where you found them. A little later your sister asks if you know how her shoelaces broke. What do you do?

Here is another example from Joseph in Prison – Genesis 39 and 40. The connection: Joseph served God no matter where he was, and we can serve God too. The children will think about situations in their lives in which they can serve God and serve others. Kids can serve God at home, at school and in their neighbourhood. Here are some possible questions:

Your mother is sick. Name three things you can do to help.

What could you do to help your teacher?

You walk to school with your younger sister. She forgot her notebook at home and she needs to bring it to school. What could you do to help her?

In the He Loves Me curriculum, there is the story of the Good Samaritan. During this lesson the kids think about ways in which they can show compassion to others. The story about Bartimaeus will help the children to think about what it looks like to call out to God and how God answers our prayers. After hearing the story about Jesus feeding 5,000 people with five loaves of bread and two fish, they think about what it means to surrender everything to Jesus, and how He takes care of us when we use what He has given us.

Connecting the stories to our lives is of huge importance for the growth of our faith and our relationship with God and others. No matter what story we tell or what lesson we teach, we should always show the kids how the story is relevant to them and how they can live out their faith in practical ways. Then they will see that the Bible is so much more than just a history book!

Read about the next Barrier: – Barrier #5: I Don’t Understand!

Read related posts:

From Barriers to Values

Barrier #1: No Relationship

Barrier #2: Church is Boring

Strategy #3: Value Fun

Strategy #4: Value Creativity

Strategy #5: Value Learning Styles

Strategy #6: Value the Uniqueness of Childhood

Barrier #3: Poor Presentation

Strategy #8: Value Storytelling Techniques

Barrier #5: I Don’t Understand!

 

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Strategy 6: Value the Uniqueness of Childhood

I’ll never forget this one Sunday when we watched a Veggie Tales® movie in our church in Canada. The children were seated according to their grades, and girls and boys were separated. At one point during the movie, the grade one and two boys started laughing loudly. I looked around the room. Clearly, they were the only ones who caught on to the funny part in the movie. That amazed me. The makers of Veggie Tales® were experts when it came to understanding grade 1 and 2 boy humor!

Experts

Experts on kids. Wouldn’t it be great if all of us, Sunday School teachers/Children’s Ministry workers, were real experts on kids? Wouldn’t it be awesome if we really understood what makes kids laugh, what they love, how to capture their full attention and beyond that, how we can reach their hearts with God’s transforming love? We should be able to figure it out – after all, we were all children when we started off in this world! When we truly value the uniqueness of childhood, understand children and see their potential, it will destroy the Barrier: Church is Boring. I could probably write a book on how kids are different from us, adults, (I wrote a blog about this before: “Through the Eyes of a 2-Year-Old”) but let’s just look at a few differences.

The World Through Their Eyes

Yes, kids are different. They giggle differently, they laugh about other things and they love being silly. They look at the world from a totally different perspective. For fun, crouch down on your knees and look at your house from this lower level. What do you notice? But it’s not only their physical eye level that is different from ours.

When we lived in Addis Ababa, I used to take my two children to the shop twice a week to buy groceries. By the side of one of the little streets, lying on the ground was a beam. I guess it was an old electricity post. Every single time we walked down that street, my kids wanted to walk down the beam, balancing as they went. Honestly, I did not have the urge to do this, but they loved it. Kids are different. When we see a street, they see opportunities for play.

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Potential

Kids often have a strong sense of justice and fairness, and can believe strongly things that seem right to them. If we give them opportunities, they will amaze us. My niece, for example, managed to raise a lot of money for an orphan project in Africa. Her school organized a fund raiser, and the kids were asked to sell some of their old toys or other items from home at a school fair. But my niece strongly believed in this cause, and decided to take it step further. And instead of taking a small step, this 10-year-old took a giant leap. She went to the mall with her friend and asked many shop owners to donate items to be auctioned off at a fair. My niece and her friend blew the adults away with how much money they raised. My sweet nice passionately believed in the cause, had an idea and she followed through on it. She did not think of obstacles most adults would have worried about. She just did it. She simply did it for the orphans in Africa. Then, when she came to visit us in Africa a few months later, she became all excited when we drove through a town and saw a sign by the side of the road that lead to one of the offices of that organization. Her passion was still there. Kids have amazing potential. They need opportunities. Don’t underestimate them.

Child-like Faith

On the Yiwedegnal (Amharic for ‘He Loves Me’) kids worship DVD we made in 2012, we included interviews with children from our kids program. One of the questions was, “Who is God to you?” and they responded, “He is my friend” and “He is my everything” and “He is my friend, my Savior, my Brother, He is everything to me.” Many adults were surprised as they watched the children. One lady asked me with tears in her eyes, “Did you tell them what to answer?” When I told her we did not, she shook her head in amazement. “I did not realize that kids can have real faith like this!” she said. Yes, it is true, we often underestimate their faith. Kids are able to have real, strong, beautiful, powerful, child-like faith.

Connect

In order to become experts on kids, we must get down to their level – literally. Carefully observe them as they interact with their friends. Pay attention to the things that get them excited, and use those things in your ministry. Do they like crazy facts? Then find some and use them to point out how amazing God’s creation is. Play with them at their level, and instead of telling them what they should do and how they should do it, let them lead as well. Being fully present is key to this. Don’t let your mind be on your to-do list, and don’t be distracted by what you want. Include opportunities for play and playfulness in your time with them and play games with them. Come up with ways in which they can actively reach out those around them, like my niece, so they can use their potential. Recognize their faith, mentor and disciple them so they can grow in their faith, and live by faith alongside them. As we interact with them, we will discover their uniqueness and it will be delightful. Our programs will not be boring!

Unique

Kids are different. I could tell you many more amazing stories of how I have seen God work and speak through kids! If we value their childhood uniqueness, if we try to crawl into their skin and understand them, we can use those things and figure out how to reach them with God’s love. When we do this, I believe that we will be blown away by the beauty of the uniqueness of our children!

Coming up next – Barrier #3: Poor Presentation

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Strategy 5: Value Learning Styles

Some years ago, when I was a volunteer in our church in Winnipeg, Canada, I was asked to do a short training about learning styles. I actually knew very little about learning styles myself, but I guess they figured I knew about this. So I looked into this subject, and made some eye-opening discoveries. I have been tailoring my lessons to these learning styles ever since. It has given me a tremendous motivation to make my lessons much more interesting and engaging for all children, and for myself as well!

God has created each of us in different and unique ways, and just like the colour of our eyes and the shape of our noses is different, we also have different ways in which we learn best. There are different ways to classify learning styles, but I want to look at three basic ones that will help us understand our kids better, and will help us strategize how to reach all the children in our classes, and not just a few of them.

Auditory (Hearing) Learning Style

These children learn well by listening. They love to listen when a story is told, and often remember specific words that were used. They love things like sound effects and word jokes. They also may be good at coming up with very specific words to describe situations or feelings. When they tell a story they are expressive and they can mimic voices of different characters. They do well when verbal instructions are given. They may love music and can detect when someone sings off-key.

Since most teachers love to talk and talk and talk, the traditional way of teaching works well for these children. These kids are the ones who can sit still in class without a problem, who listen well and can answer questions the teachers ask. They probably cause the least amount of problems in your class. This is usually a smaller group of children in your class.

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Auditory children are distracted by sounds, so ringing cell phones, whispering children and noises coming from outside your room will be a distraction for them.

Visual (Seeing) Learning Style

These children learn best when they can ‘see’ things. They primarily remember the things they see. If there is something for them to see, that will be the thing they will remember. So if their mom asks them after church, “What did you do in Children’s Church today?” they’ll think, “Eehhmmm… o, yes, the teacher was wearing a scarf over her shoulder… I remember now! It was about Joseph!” When they tell you a story, they may add detailed descriptions of what things look like.

Adding visual things to your lessons will greatly assist these kids in remembering what was taught. Think about using props, science experiments, costume items, puppets, pictures, maps or charts. All these things serve as great hooks for their memory. If you use an illustration of how something works, they will be able to figure it out. Having a visual like a picture, an item, or a diagram helps them to understand and remember what is being taught. They also pay attention to your room, the decorations, the types of building materials used, the furniture and the seating arrangements.

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These kids also pay attention visual things that are not important, like the clothes the teacher wears. Carefully look at your teaching space to discover what they will notice. Decorations can be a great help for them – or a great distraction. If someone moves in your room, their eyes will be drawn to it and they will automatically notice. You can imagine how their thoughts will wander away as well: “What is that person doing?” Minimizing the visual distractions is very important for your visual learners. It’s important to pay serious attention to these things, because the largest group of children in your class will be visual learners.

Kinaesthetic (Hands-on) Learning Style

These children love action! They often struggle to sit still in class, and easily become bored or distracted if nothing “happens” in class. Engaging these children is perhaps the hardest, but if you put an effort into reaching these children, you will have the most creative, interactive and fun lessons, and you can be sure that you will engage all the children in your class.

When you ask for volunteers, the hands of these kids shoot up first. These kids love doing the actions to the praise and worship songs, jump the highest when they are excited and their eyes start to glimmer whenever you say, “We’re going to play a game!” Often these kids loves sports and drama and running. When they tell a story, they move their hands as they speak and, if possible, their bodies as well. When your time with the kids only involves sitting and listening, they will be the first to become bored.

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So how can you reach these active, bouncy kids? It may seem intimidating, but it’s not impossible at all! Include them. Make them part of what you are doing. Make sure your praise and worship includes lots of jumping and challenge them by doing fun, different actions that require their attention. Once they got rid of some of their energy during Praise & Worship, it’ll be easier for them to sit down and engage with a Bible story. When you tell the story, often use Creative Teaching Methods such as Audience Participation so they can channel their need to move in an acceptable way. Let them help out by collecting the offering and when it’s time for things to be handed out, let them be your helpers. Make sure you play games in Small Groups that require doing something, even if it is small like picking up cards or playing a board game (connected to the Main Point of your lesson – not just games to kill time or even have fun only).

Sitting still will push these kids to misbehaviour. They are not bad kids, this is simply how God made them, and so it’s our responsibility to ensure that we teach in a way that will help these kids learn and enjoy learning.

Combinations

Some people may have a combination of two learning styles, and all combinations are possible. Some people may not have a dominant way to learn but utilize whatever learning style fits a particular learning environment. Regardless of your own particular style or styles, it is important to be able to recognize the characteristics of all three, and to tailor your lessons to them so that all kids will be engaged and will enjoy learning.

Learning Style Barriers

As we looked at these styles and how we can tailor our lessons to help them learn, we already saw some of the specific things that make it more difficult for children to learn – the barriers. Here are a few more possible obstacles to consider:

  • Have the teaching area on the opposite side of the door if possible. Anyone who comes through the door will be a distraction if the door is on the same side as your teaching area. If people enter the room from behind the children, it is less likely for them to be distracted.
  • Avoid having more adults in the teaching area than necessary. It is distracting for children if there is a second or even third teacher who is just standing there. The problem is that the teacher won’t just stand there, but moves and has facial expressions. Every movement will be observed and will distract from the actual teaching. Every facial expression sends a message, and even a blank expression communicates, “This is boring”.
  • Make sure cell phones are switched off, and do not let teachers answer their phones. If a teacher starts to answer a cell phone or text a message where children can see it, they will immediately think, ‘I wonder who she is talking to!’ It inadvertently sends the message that the phone call is more important than what is happening in the room.
  • The other teachers should move around as little as possible during the lesson, because whenever someone gets up and starts to walk, heads of the children will turn and they will be distracted easily.
  • Children often bring things into the room. Have a rule about where they should put their stuff. You may tell them to put their things underneath their seats so that they cannot see them and cannot touch them – and won’t be distracted by them.

The goal of this strategy is simple: we need to design our lessons in a way that will engage children with all these different learning styles so that learning will be fun for all of them. We want them to enjoy coming to our Children’s Ministry programs. Let our lessons be fun and engaging for kids with all learning styles, so that each of them can grow in their faith!

Coming up next – Strategy 6: Value the Uniqueness of Childhood

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Strategy 4: Value Creativity

Another way to conquer the Barrier of Boredom (Barrier 2: Church is Boring) is to highly value creativity. Present each lesson, each week creatively. There are tons of ways to do this. In our lessons we always use at least one (but usually several) Creative Teaching Methods. These methods can include using props, drama, audience participation, drawing, puppets, science, special messages, games, and more. Lessons are never just a delivery of information to be deposited in the brains of the kids. They always, always use creativity in the delivery. This keeps kids engaged and curious. They want to discover new things in new ways or even old things in new ways. Creative Teaching Methods are like a hook to draw the children in. Once they are ‘in’, once you have their attention, you can speak into their lives.

Let me give you a few examples. One of my favorite tools is drama, and one of my favorite ways to use drama is to step into the role of one of the characters in story, and “visit” the classroom as that person. This can be done in several ways.

drama

First of all you can simply visit the kids. “Hi, kids! My name is Matthew and I am one of Jesus’ followers. Let me tell you what happened to me the other day. I lost my job! It was awesome! Maybe you think I’m crazy for saying that losing my job was awesome. Let me explain….”

A different way is to conduct an interview. Have another teacher interview you and ask you to tell the kids about the event. You can change this by having the teacher interview more than one person from the story to get different sides to it, let’s say Matthew and one of the taxcollector. Or the teacher may interview a person who was present but was not actually mentioned in the Bible, for example one of the servants in Matthew’s house who served the food at the dinner party and overheard the different conversations that evening.

Another really fun and engaging way to present the story through drama is by playing all the roles in the drama yourself and switch between the roles as the story continues. You move to the different places where the characters are, and show the emotions of all the people involved.

Props are also an easy way to add interest to your lesson. And they do not need to be complicated or expensive. Our lessons only use easy-to-find materials. Scarves are great, because you can use them in many ways as a costume item. Wrap it around your head, drape it over your shoulder, tie it around your waist, or hang it over both shoulders like a cape. Look for items you can find around the house and outside. Use a stick as a walking stick to add something visual to your presentation.

Many children love to participate in your lesson in some way. They can become characters in your story, each with one very short line that is repeated throughout the story. Or perhaps you give them very clear, specific instructions on what sound effects they will add as you tell the story. You can also let them participate in games, activities, interviews and contests. There are tons of options.

One last note on this subject. It may sound like I am the expert on creative ideas, but I am not. As I have been writing these Children’s Ministry lessons, I have come to realize that my ideas and creativity are very limited. But God is our Creator, and He is full of creativity. He is the One who gives us creative ideas. I often think, “O, I am not sure if I can come up with anything for this story…” So I pray that God will give me an idea. Usually I leave it and go do something else, and very often, while I am not thinking about it and I am doing this other thing, suddenly an idea pops up in my mind. “Thank You, God!” is all I can say. I believe God enjoys it when He sees the desire in our heart to teach creatively, and He is always there to guide us and give us the ideas we need. So when you draw a blank and your creative juices seem to have evaporated altogether, pray and He will help you.

Coming up next – Strategy 5: Value Learning Styles

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Strategy 3: Value Fun

We just talked about Barrier #2: Church is Boring. And we talked about Strategy 2: Value This Opportunity. Isn’t that just so exciting? So… what do we actually do? How do we go from having a boring program to having a non-boring program? Beside never losing our excitement about This Opportunity, the second thing we must highly value is FUN. We must have fun with our kids! Our kids love to have fun. In fact, learning is easy if it is also fun. But mostly we have fun because we want to show the kids that we enjoy being around them, and that we appreciate and value them.

So what do you do to have fun? There are so many ways to have fun! Joke around, give out random prizes for crazy things (Who has the most orange in his clothes today? You will receive today’s prize!). Use fun, cool actions in the songs that you sing with them. Do the actions with them and do them BIG, even if it initially feels weird or uncomfortable. Make them giggle and laugh. Do not be serious all the time. Play fun games. Use water, balloons, magic tricks – kids love these things. Celebrate with them. Have fun!

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I do want to bring a word of warning about fun. Sometimes fun becomes the only objective in ministry settings, and that is not a good thing. Our main objective is not to have fun. We simply have fun as we are building relationships and learning about God and growing in our relationship with Him. We must balance fun with our other values, so that we do not become “just another entertainment option”.

Coming up next – Strategy 4: Value Creativity

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