Whether as a volunteer in a children’s Sunday School class or as a parent with your own child(ren), the time you have with these little guys passes very quickly. How can you make the most of your time?
1. Be Ready. Most classroom or home devotional problems can be traced back to this one simple step that may be the most overlooked. What do I mean by “be ready?” The obvious answer is that you have taken the necessary time to prepare the material you’ll be teaching.
Further, more important than knowing the teaching content is the spiritual preparation you should do. Have you as teacher/parent digested and understood God’s message in the passage? Have you taken time to pray for yourself and the kids that God will reveal Himself through this study? Each time we gather to study and share from His Story, we can expect revelation and life change. Just as kids need this revelation and life change, so do we as adults. Just because the story may be one that is chosen because it is understandable to a child, does not mean that we adults cannot gain insight from it.
So, pray, plan, prepare and be ready!
2. Be Specific. Have you ever sat through one of those sermons that covered a whole lot of good things, but never seemed to land on any one thing. You walk away feeling good, but don’t know why! The time we spend with children in Bible study needs to have a point. Answer the question, “What is the ‘take away’ from this story?” I had a seminary professor that would finish each class with, “Now here is something for you to put in your pocket and take home.” For us, that was a clue that we would likely see that bit of information again on a test.
In any teaching context, from a seminary class to a home devotion with your own children, there should be a point, a purpose, a reason for the discussion. Make sure that you are specific about that point. And how do you make “the point?” You have to connect with the kids. You know who they are and what their life issues and questions are.
I know that you have experienced this – – a passage of scripture that you have read dozens of times has new meaning and value to you because of you current life needs. The same is true of children. Help them connect with God’s word by knowing your kids, praying for them ahead of time and making the passage connect with their needs. From the classroom perspective, recognize that it is more important what a child takes home in his heart than in his hand. I love good activity sheets that help make the application and a reminder throughout the week, but that is not the most important thing. Major on the heart, not the art!
So, be specific and connect with them!
3. Be Dramatic. Back to our preacher… Have you ever been in a service where the message is delivered in a lifeless, monotone, monologue? That is painful for everyone, even the preacher! Don’t do that to your kids. In you classroom or in your children’s room before bed, DO NOT READ THE BIBLE AS IF IT WAS SOME BORING LEGAL CONTRACT! Realize that these passages are God’s living word. This is a way that the creator of the universe has chosen to tell us about Himself, His world, and how we live within it. Tell the story as if it were an exciting action-filled adventure because it is!
Good storytellers realize stories are like a symphony. They build to a climatic crescendo, and then resolve. Use excitement in your voice, not monotone droning. Own the story. Know where it is going, so that you are not merely reading it, but making expressive eye contact as if you were telling exciting campfire stories. Make sure that you make the point. Don’t cheat and make a passage shoe horn into some fabricated application. Let the Bible stand for itself and make the application of truth in each child’s heart.
Pray for and allow the Holy Spirit to guide the discussion. I have seen the Spirit work within a child to make a beautiful application that I had not considered. I believe that many home devotional times would be revolutionized if the approach from the parents moved from obligation to opportunity.
So, be dramatic and tell God’s Story with excitement and heartfelt enthusiasm!
Long Hollow Baptist Church