There are two goals you should focus on when teaching in children’s ministry. The first is to motivate and engage children to learn. (I discussed this among other tips for teaching in children’s ministry in 5 Must-Knows for Teaching in Children’s Ministry. You can find that post here.)
You cannot force a child to listen. However, if you make learning at church a positive experience for the kids you teach, there’s a strong possibility that you’ve set them up to have a life-long desire to learn about and follow God and His word.
The second goal is to help children grow closer to God. The special little ones you work with today will continue to mature with each tomorrow. Do you want those kiddos to mature in the world?
Or do you desire for the kids you teach to mature in Christ, becoming capable of navigating life’s trials without instruction from parents and/or church teachers?
Build Relationships While Teaching in Children’s Ministry
Several teachers and ministry workers guided me towards maturity in the Lord. They taught me how to apply God’s word in my life, gave me opportunities to make decisions for the Lord, and welcomed me into the body of Christ. They gave me a foundation early on in life that since has kept me standing strong.
Do you know what I remember most about these teachers and ministry workers?
The relationship they formed with me.
They took time to know me personally. They motivated me to draw closer to Christ by pointing out my strengths (for example, encouraging me to teach and to sing in the choir) and walked at my side to overcome my weaknesses. (One special woman would call me every week to discuss my devotions with me, which kept me accountable in reading my Bible.) I felt loved in my church.
As a teacher, I desire to draw my church kids into the body of Christ. Don’t you?
I want them to feel accepted and to know they are loved and forgiven. I yearn for them to experience moments of heaven here on earth within a family of believers. If that happens they will not only learn from Bible lessons, but also by the example I present before them.
More Tips for Teaching in Children’s Ministry
Do you know what the kids in your class struggle with or fear? Do you really listen when they ask questions about the Bible?
Is your hope to help children grow in Christ or is teaching in children’s ministry a check off your to-do list?
I urge you to know the kids you work with on a more personal level. When you understand their needs, you can better prepare lessons and choose scripture that encourages them to grow in the Lord.
Here are the next 5 must-knows for teaching in children’s ministry. (If you haven’t read the first 5 must-knows, you can find them here.)
6. GET TO KNOW THE CHILDREN.
Children seek out love and recognition wherever they go and a warm greeting fosters a positive relationship with them from the beginning.
But getting to know children takes more than a friendly hello. Try building relationships by:
- Asking them questions, such as: Are they playing any sports? What did they do on Saturday? How are their family members?
- Paying attention to their prayer requests, which can be a looking glass into a child’s heart.
- Observing them when you aren’t teaching. Does a child bite his/her nails? Maybe s/he is anxious. Have a child who can’t sit still? Perhaps s/he struggles with focus. You can learn a lot by watching and then carefully thinking about what you see.
- Talking with them before and after church or at church activities.
7. APPLY THE BIBLE TO THE CHILDREN’S LIVES.
Children need to understand that the Bible isn’t a story book, but rather our guide for life. I often describe it as God’s rule book, while emphasizing God’s love and His promises.
Children should also know that they can turn to God’s word for answers and comfort when they have a problem, don’t know what to do in a specific situation, or are discouraged.
Below are ideas of how to apply the Bible to children’s lives.
- Present situations to the kids that they can relate to and then explain how the Bible teaches believers hot to react versus how the world may react. (Children must understand that living for Christ makes them act different from unbelievers.)
- Allow children the opportunity to practice what you’ve taught. For example, you could have children clean up around the church after a lesson on being a servant or create a special challenge to see who can invite the most friends to church to advocate the Great Commission.
- Ask the children what they struggle with and then help them to troubleshoot those challenges through God’s word.
8. READ FROM THE BIBLE AND ADVOCATE MEMORIZATION.
Two verses from Psalms 119 (KJV) come to mind with this tip.
“Thy word is a lamp unto my feet, and a light unto my path”(Psalms 119:105).
“Thy word have I hid in mine heart, that I might not sin against thee” (Psalms 119:11).
If you want the Bible to guide children in their life, they must read AND memorize it. Not all the children in your church will have parents at home that read the Bible with them and/or promote memorization.
As a children’s ministry teacher, I hope to instill a love of God’s word in each child I work with so that they become self-motivated to grow in Christ. I strive to get the children to memorize key verses that they can cling to for the rest of their lives.
It goes without saying that you should stress the importance of Bible reading at church and at home.
9. REINFORCE LEARNING WITH REVIEW AND QUESTIONS.
Reviewing lessons and quizzing children with questions increases their chances of storing away what you’ve taught them for future use.
To reinforce learning, you could:
- Ask lots of questions both during a lesson and after it so you can reinforce any concepts the kids may have missed or are struggling to understand.
- Use small treats to motivate kids to participate in the review process. A Starburst or Tootsie Roll will up the number of hands raised to answer a question.
- Before teaching something new, review the point of the previous lesson to children. Depending on the outcome of the review, you may decide that the lesson should be taught again in the near future if the children did not grasp and/or remember it the first time around.
- Question and review with competition. Whether it is a game after the lesson or a month-long challenge to memorize something like the parts of the armor of God, challenge children in a way they will enjoy. (Prizes always help too!)
10. GIVE CHILDREN THE OPPORTUNITY TO MAKE DECISIONS FOR THE LORD.
I strive to emphasize salvation every time that I teach, but it can be a struggle when time runs short as it often does. No matter the cost, I urge you to allow time for children to make decisions for the Lord, even if you think every child in the room has made a profession of faith.
Because you can’t read a child’s heart or move a child closer to God. Teachers must provide the time for God to work on a child’s heart, even if it takes him or her week after week after week.
The church I attended as a child offered an invitation every single Sunday and I always wondered why when everyone was already saved and baptized—or so I thought. Imagine my surprise when a friend I thought was saved accepted the Lord as her personal Savior during one of those invitations!
You never know when or how the Lord will work. Allow Him the time to move a child’s heart closer to Him, be it through salvation, baptism, dedication, or much needed prayer time. (Of all my tips, I’m working on this one the most.)
Now that I’ve offered you my tips, what tips do you have for me? As a teacher, I am dedicated not only to teaching others, but learning from others too!
Which of the 10 “Must-Knows for Teaching” would you like to work on and why?