Teaching began for me at an early age. I have memories of playing school with friends and “teaching” my brother the alphabet. I lacked teaching skills for sure back then—forcing my two-year-old brother to sit still in a plastic yellow chair until he said all of his letters proved that. (Thankfully he has no recollection of the torture!)
But as I matured in age and faith, so did my lessons.
As a highschooler, God led me right smack into the children’s ministry at my church and forever changed my life. Teaching in children’s ministry came naturally to me. Dealing with rowdy children, not so much.
However, I couldn’t deny that God placed me into a teaching role so that I could perform His work.
Do you have any natural skills? If yes, do areas where you are perhaps not as well equipped prevent you from using those skills?
I have learned as a teacher of preschool-aged up through middle-school children that God may bless me with the gift of teaching, but he humbles me with a deficiency as well. Teaching flows through me but patience does not.
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God Equips for Teaching in Children’s Ministry
Aren’t we blessed to have a God who gives spiritual gifts and equips us with the tools needed to overcome our weaknesses?
I am thankful for a God who supplies me with spiritual gifts (in this case, teaching), but even more grateful for a God who strengthens me in my weakness so that I can accomplish His work. As 2 Corinthians 12:9 (KJV) says:
“…My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness…”
I am not always patient with the children I teach. Chit chat annoys me. I for the life of me cannot understand why even after much repetition the kids still don’t remember what I said 5 minutes ago. And is it really that hard to raise your hand?
God continues to teach me that these shortcomings are really my own and that He will help me work through them. He gives me opportunities to practice patience. He picks me up when I fail and pushes me to continue to work within children’s ministry when I doubt.
Do you feel led to teach in children’s ministry but doubt your abilities to do so? Do your doubts stem from a personal weakness?
My friend, I hope you won’t let weakness discourage you from participating in such a vital ministry of the church (or any ministry for that matter!). God makes no mistakes about who He calls into ministry and I can attest to the fact that He will equip you to do the job He has called you to do!
Tips for Teaching in Children’s Ministry
Have you felt hesitant to start teaching or discouraged to continue teaching in children’s ministry because all you see are your weaknesses? Take it from me—those weaknesses will ALWAYS be there. But so will God.
Whether you are a to-be teacher, new teacher, or veteran teacher, there are some must-knows for teaching in a children’s ministry that will help you meet the needs of the children and just might help you with some of that angst you feel. (Several of these must-knows have helped me overcome my weakness of impatience.)
Check out the first five must-knows for teaching in children’s ministry below and when you finish, you can find five more tips here.
1. FOLLOW A CONSISTENT AND SEGMENTED SCHEDULE.
Consistent schedules tell children what to expect, which can result in better behavior, reduced anxiety, and an efficient ministry. Consistency gives children something to look forward to as well—assuming they enjoy parts or all of the schedule!
Segmenting your schedule with different activities has benefits too. It gives children variety, keeping them engaged longer and decreasing the amount of time they must focus on a single task. The goals of a segmented schedule are to keep it fun, to keep kids engaged, and to meet the needs of different types of learners.
Looking for an example? I follow this schedule: welcome, prayer, singing, lesson and memory verse, game and/or craft.
2. GIVE CLEAR EXPECTATIONS, ENCOURAGE, AND PRAISE, PRAISE, PRAISE.
Do not assume children know what you expect of them. Children bounce back and forth between school, home, and extracurricular activities and expectations may not be the same across all of these environments.
Work with your children’s ministry team to:
- determine expectations;
- present expectations to children;
- encourage children to meet expectations (via your words and reward systems);
- praise children when they meet expectations (this is a big motivator for kids!); and
- regularly remind the children of expectations.
Consider expectations such as: raising hands, being kind to others, bringing bibles to class, and respecting church property. Notice these tell the children what they should DO rather than what they should NOT do. In my experience, positive rules set up success for positive decision making.
3. MAKE LEARNING GOD’S WORD FUN AND MEMORABLE.
This one seems obvious, right? But don’t confuse it with making church fun. There’s a subtle difference. You can make church fun by hosting a harvest fair or water balloon night. These events grow your church’s outreach and promote a fun atmosphere for fellowship.
But I am talking about creating a fun lesson. The trick is to incorporate activities kids enjoy into your lesson so that they are engaged in learning and more likely to remember what you teach.
How might you do this?
- Have kids act out a Bible story with costumes and props.
- Present an object lesson to better explain your point. (Pinterest has lots of great ideas.)
- Find an appropriate YouTube video to tell a story with humor. (The kids I work with love this and always pay attention!)
- Use games to teach and help children remember what you’ve taught.
Mix it up and the kids can continually experience new ways to learn and interact in the lesson.
4. GET CHILDREN INVOLVED.
Do you have a poster that a child could hold or need an assistant for your object lesson? Most children love to be helpers. Bible drills also encourage children to take part.
When children feel integral to the lesson, they become invested in it.
Over the years I have tried different ways to make children a necessary component to my teaching. And to be fair, some ideas were successful and some total flops! (You have to be willing to fail in order to find what works.)
Once, I set up a tent and had all the kids join me inside to learn about the Shunammite woman preparing a room for Elisha. I had great listeners that day! Another time we walked to different areas of the church and I taught part of the lesson each time we stopped.
Think like a kid (or maybe even ask kids their opinions—I often ask my own children) to find the best ways to get them involved.
5. THOROUGH IS GOOD, BUT SIMPLE IS BEST.
You want the children to have a deep understanding of God’s word, but jamming a ton of information into a single lesson could undermine this goal. Understanding and wisdom comes with time and repetition.
There are different ways to simplify your lessons.
- Try breaking up what may seem like a simple concept to you into multiple lessons.
For example, let’s say you want to teach on how to be a servant. Perhaps the first week you talk about how we are called to be servants. The next two weeks you provide an example of a person who was a servant, and finally in the last week you discuss how the kids can be servants.
- Pick one very specific point that you want the children to understand each week.
In the case of teaching how to be a servant, you might tell the story of how Jesus was a servant when he washed the disciples’ feet.
- Teach that one specific point in multiple ways.
If you were to teach the story of Jesus washing the disciples’ feet, you could read the story, then show an appropriate YouTube video to reinforce the story, give 3 easy-to-remember points about Jesus’ example as a servant, and finally play a game that made the kids critically think about how they could be a servant like Jesus.
I hope that these tips will help you while teaching in children’s ministry. (They certainly have helped me over the years!) Don’t forget to check out the next five tips here.
Which of these must-knows might help you with an area you feel could be a weakness while teaching in children’s ministry and how might it help you to overcome that possible weakness?