Children’s ministry comes with its challenges, but statistically, it brings some of the greatest rewards. In fact, 85% of Christians accepted Christ between ages 4-14. According to Barna, the probability of accepting Christ is 32% at ages 5-13, only 4% at ages 14-18, and only 6% at ages 19+.
While the Holy Spirit plays a key role in salvation, I believe that it is what we do that ultimately sets the stage for salvation and discipleship to be possible. That is our responsibility in the Great Commission. Here are some tips to improve the effectiveness of your kid’s ministry (kidmin).
STEP #1 - RELATIONSHIPS
As 1 Corinthians 13 reminds us, it doesn’t matter how eloquently you preach or how skillful you are. If you do not have love, your efforts are worthless. Everyone needs love, but not every kid receives it. Some come from broken homes. Some are abused physically, emotionally, or sexually. Some live in pretty dark realities. Teachers who make kids feel loved are important in the life of every child. But loving teachers are the most important thing a hurting child can experience at church.
A preschooler may attend church only once, not remember a word of the lesson, but look back 15 years later in college and say, “Life hasn’t been fair. I’ve been hurt. But I remember that church. They loved me when no one else did. Maybe I should go to church. Maybe I should give God a chance.” Authentic loving relationships make church sticky and memorable in a very positive way.
STEP #2 - GOD’S WORD
Scripture is a seed that changes lives when planted. Do not water down your Sunday school lessons. Kids are remarkably intelligent and can handle sophisticated theology. Make God’s Word relevant to kids. Relevant kidmin doesn’t mean talking about Xbox and High School Musical. Relevant kidmin lessons address the spiritual needs of the modern child. The spiritual needs of kids who have been molested or tried meth or are dealing with their parents’ divorce are much deeper than sugar-coated lessons and pop culture references.
I encourage children’s ministers to always consider the deepest hurts and teach in a way that provides spiritual support to those who are hurting without robbing the innocence of those who are fortunate enough to be in sheltered, healthy homes.
STEP #3 - DISCIPLINE
Some kids workers feel uncomfortable with disciplining the kids they teach. Certainly, don’t rule the classroom with an iron fist, but you need discipline. Although kids are not fond of being reprimanded, good discipline actually creates a classroom structure that allows for there to be more fun. Discipline keeps kids safe. And ultimately, it makes them feel loved (even if they act like they don’t appreciate it). Without proper discipline, the kids will not respect you, and the environment will distract them from learning.
STEP #4 - WOW
Object lessons with flash paper, slush powder, razor sharp swords, or computer graphics are cool. Kids love them just like they love video games and inflatable playgrounds at church. But these things are novelty. They create a WOW effect.
Adding WOW to your Sunday school lessons makes the spiritual truths sticky. It enables the kids to remember the lessons for years or even decades. But without deep spiritual truths, the WOW is just fleeting novelty. Without spiritual truths, kids will just be waiting for the next gimmick to trump the last trick. So add WOW but not for WOW’s sake. Use it to make God’s Word even stickier.
- What tips do you have for creating great kid Sunday school lessons?
Kent Shaffer is the founder of ChurchRelevance.com an online resource created to inspire and train ministers to be more relevant and effective. He also co-owns BombayCreative.com, a ministry-oriented design firm, and AcreScout.com, a commercial listings site.