visual teaching

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IMG_0245I still believe that one of the best ways to minister to children is with the “Children’s Church” model.

Call it “Children’s Church”, “Kids Church”, “Junior Church”, “Large Group Time,” etc. Whatever it’s called, it’s important to promote unity through corporate worship and teaching.

During this series on Making Your Children’s Church Better, we will explore the little details that make a huge impact. Today, we’re talking “Transitions”.  In the last 7 months, our family has had the privilege of traveling the United States and observe the services for children in churches and at Kids Camps. We’ve seen the good the bad and the ugly when it comes to service planning and presentation… and the transitions stood out the most. So, here are few of my thoughts, tips, ideas and advice for keeping your Children’s Services moving along smoothly:

Know what you’re going to say before you start speaking

  • Have a transitional statement and make it intentional: Don’t start your statement with: “Alright…”, “OK…” and “Well…” These are so common and it makes you sound like you’re unsure about what to say.
  • Consider a “grabber statement” as your first line: “Something REALLY embarrassing happened to me the other day…”; “When I was a kid…”; “I’m bringing my teddy-bear next week! So should you for our pajama day!”
  • Ask the kids a question that you’re confident they will answer: “Does anyone here like candy? I thought so – I’m going to give some away…”; “Don’t you wish you had more money?”
  • Get kids to respond by doing something rather than just raising their hands: “If you’re excited to be here shout ‘Oh Yeah!”; “When I count 3-2-1, Jump out of your chair and give me a big cheer!”; “Give someone next to you a high 5!”; “Knock-knock…I said: Knock-knock…”
  • Affirming statements will surprise your audience: “WOW…The kids in this room are pretty awesome.”; “Good morning, I’m so happy that you’re here!”: “I love getting to be with you – You kids are great!”
  • Get the group to mimic you: Clap your hands in a pattern and point to the kids. Keep doing it until everyone is doing it. Start chanting something that has to do with your segment: “Kids Camp is almost here… Kids Camp is almost here… Kids Camp is almost here…” Motion to the kids to start chanting with you – getting louder and louder as you go.

Music Transitions help to set a mood.

I love Music – it’s powerful and can be so useful in ministry. But like anything, it’s a tool that should enhance the message or segments that have already be prepared. Background music can be found in a variety of places. I personally don’t like using music with recorded lyrics as background music when teaching – I feel that it will detract from what’s being talked about. I also don’t like altar music that is popular worship music if I’m talking over the top – again, it can be distracting. I don’t mind using worship music with lyrics while children are praying during a prolonged prayer time.

I highly recommend the background music produced by Brian Dollar and High Voltage Kids, music by friend and mentor Randy Christensen and music by Gospel Magic/Music Producer, Arthur Stead.

Here’s how I use a background music for transitions and segments:

  • For Segments: I prefer to use music to create a mood during a segment When the assigned person begins talking the background music chosen fades in just loud enough to be heard but not overpowering.
  • For Characters: Music that’s used for characters is typically used to introduce the character with a few seconds of the music playing on the front end and to dismiss the character as they leave with a few seconds of music continuing  and then fading away once they leave. When the main teacher begins to interact with the character, the music fades down to a very low level. In some cases the music might change to reflect the character’s dilemma or interaction. In other cases, the music might fade away altogether.
  • For Teaching (gospel magic routines and object lessons): The music starts immediately as the main teach begins talking.
  • For the Main Illustration: The music begins immediately as the main teacher begins talking.

Video Transitions help to set a mood.

Kids live in a visual, digital age and using visuals is so important. There are many ways to use video clips as teaching tools, but this post is specifically about transitions. Again, I highly recommend the background music produced by Brian Dollar and High Voltage Kids.

  • For Segments: As I am finishing my segment, the media team already knows my final statement. as soon as I say the final word in my final statement, they know to start the video. The video plays for a 3-5 second duration when the next person begins talking. As that person begins talking the video fades away and just a screen shot of the video remains on the screen.
  • For Characters: I do create intro animated and static videos (videos in which there is no movement on the screen, just an image that relates to the character) with music in the background to help introduce the character. again the music-video is typically used to introduce the character with a few seconds of the music playing on the front end and to dismiss the character as they leave with a few seconds of music continuing  and then fading away once they leave. When the main teacher begins to interact with the character, the music fades down to a very low level. In some cases the music might change to reflect the character’s dilemma or interaction. In other cases, the music might fade away altogether.
  • For the Main Illustration: I believe a good “bumper” video can be a great way to transition into your main message. A “bumper” video is similar as a transition video used for various segments, but it’s customized with the title of your series and/or the title of the message. It’s only 10-20 seconds with music and video footage or animation that relates to your topic. Many curriculum companies include “bumper” videos for Large-group times. A “bumper” video can be easily created with the modern video editing software as well as creating animated slides in PowerPoint and Keynote that can be exported as digital video files. Perhaps I will demonstrate how I use Keynote to accomplish this in a later post.

A few More Thoughts

  • Timing is Crucial from Segment to Segment: In other words, if there is a leader on the stage presenting the announcements and I am the next person who is supposed to present the offering. I don’t want to be hanging out in the back of the room waiting for the person on stage to finish and motion to me or have to introduce me so I know when to start making my way up to the stage… thus leaving an awkward moment of silence or an awkward moment of the leader having to figure out what to say while I’m meandering my way to the stage.  Instead, I want to know the list of announcements… and their order… and what the previous leader’s final statement will be. As the final announcement is starting, I make my way to the front. During the final statement, I start to walk on stage so I can begin my segment.
  • Stop Introducing the Next Person: Unless they are a guest-speaker or someone who is not known to the kids. Otherwise, use the methods already listed to make the transitions smoother.
  • Have a Microphone in your Hand or on your Ear: That way, when your segment starts, you’re not speed-walking to the opposite side of the stage to get it. Or, your not aimlessly searching around and asking,”What Mic do I use?” BTW: make sure it’s been tested and is functioning properly.
  • Props or Visuals In Place and Ready: If your segment begins with you walking on stage and picking up a prop, hand-out example, offering bucket or other visual — double-check that its in it’s place and ready to be used.
  • Get Everyone On the Same Page: Do meet with all presenters and the media team so everyone knows how to handle the transitions. It might be necessary to have a walk-thru rehearsal where media cues are practiced and opening and final statements are practiced. I suggest using PlanningCenterOnline.com to plan your services that will include the lengths for segments and transitional/media cues. There is a free version that can get you started.

You can find even more videos at WorshipHouseKids.com

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Over the years I have certainly heard the argument that Gospel Magic is of the devil…

that it’s associated with witchcraft or sorcery… that we are in league with Harry Potter etc. And for those situations, I have always had with me either a document by Randy Christensen: “The Magical Method”

…Or Bob Hill’s: “Should a Christian Do Magic?

Just copy and paste the text into your favorite word processor and create a document or brochure you can hand out – be sure to include the author’s name and copyright information.

But to be perfectly honest with you, the biggest complaint I’ve heard over the years from people about Gospel Magic is that people end up remembering the magic and NOT the message. The performer or presenter was a great magician… but had a tough time “Marrying” the Method and the Message together.

The second complaint I’ve heard over the years is that the magic was just a gimmick to get the audience interested in what the presenter had to say… the presenter, then, turned out to be a very boring and/or long winded speaker. In which case, they don’t remember the message and didn’t care about the magic because the audience felt duped into listening.

The reasons I hear this complaint are as follows:

  • Wrong Motivation
  • Poor Prep
  • Poor Presentations
  • Un-Assessed Presentations
  • Performers/Ministers Unwilling to Make the Changes

Come on people! WE can do better than this!

We are talking about presenting the Word of God. And the last time I looked into my Bible, it says that if we aspire to teach others the Word, we will be held to a higher standard:

“Dear brothers and sisters, not many of you should become teachers in the church, for we who teach will be judged more strictly.”
–James 3:1

I don’t care if you are a Pastor, Evangelist or a Performer who presents the Word… YOU have be entrusted with the greatest message in the world! Take that as a challenge to your motivation, preparation, presentation, assessment and the willingness to make the change.

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564736_597514190259187_754582564_nIllustrating the Word of God for kids is a good thing.

I have often heard the argument:

“…if we, as children’s leaders use unique and entertaining methods, that children will remember the methods and not the message.”

It’s sad, really. It’s sad because I have watched effective Children’s Ministry communicators shy away from taking advantage of great and creative methods in their presentations because of that statement alone.

I was teaching several workshops on creative teaching methods at a children’s ministry conference where I overheard several criticize me and other workshop leaders for placing an unhealthy emphasis on the methods.

Guess what? I can agree with the statement:

“…if we, as children’s leaders use unique and entertaining methods, that children will remember the methods and not the message.”

However, I can only agree with that statement with the following addendum:

“…as long as most of the time, energy and emphasis is placed on the method and very little time, energy and emphasis is spent on the message.”

Unfortunately, the aforementioned addendum is rarely heard… thus holding back the children’s ministry specialist from embracing the effective methods that are available to him/her.

And all of that is worked out in the planning stages of the message. 

In the next few posts I want to explain a few things that should be happening BEFORE the presentation starts… and hopefully, you, the children’s ministry leader – a teacher of God’s Word, can find freedom to “Marry” the message and the method so you can bring your messages to life.

Stay tuned…

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If you’re like me (and I know I am), you put a lot of emphasis on teaching kids the Word of God every week – and in some cases, several times or venues a week. For me, I have 4 Kids’ Church large groups on a weekend (one on Saturday Night, 2 on our main campus and I travel between those 2 services to teach/preach at our second campus most weeks) Add to that a Sunday School hour, Wednesday night large groups (of which I’m involved) and Wednesday night small groups.  We also have a myriad of classes and services for toddlers and preschoolers and even some teaching time for infants that our wonderful staff on directors and volunteers oversee and participate in.

THERE’S A WHOLE LOT OF TEACHING GOING ON!

That’s why I’ve started a simple “training by e-mail” campaign for our lead teaching staff.  Each week I will send out an e-mail to our teaching staff with an encouragement and a tip that just might help them reach new heights.  I would like to share those e-mails with you in blog-format each week… if you follow me on twitter, you saw that I did a series of around 15 tips for teaching in kidmin a few weeks ago – these coming blog posts are those tweets elaborated. So, here we go:

Let me encourage you this week as you plan for the upcoming Wednesday or Weekend and give you a pointer that I just know will give you the confidence and in some cases the “know-how”… and if there’s anything I’ve learned in the last few years: INFORMATION is POWERFUL when you APPLY IT.

THIS WEEKS TIP:

Start preparing early in the week for the upcoming lesson or class time. In other words, if your ministry time was over the weekend, crack open that lesson book or materials on Monday… if your ministry time was on Wednesday; then make Thursday your day to start studying.  You don’t have to plan your entire lesson on that day, but at least:

  • Read over the lesson
  • Know and memorize the key verse
  • Look up and read any supporting verses
  • And know the main point of the lesson.

Why should you do this? I’m glad you asked!
…When you start early in the week, it gives the Holy Spirit time to be your helper… instead of (gulp) having to work in spite of you.  Think about it: all week long as you pray over the materials you’ve read, the Lord will reveal unique teaching ideas, stories you’ve heard or events in your life that you could work into your lesson.  As the day of ministry gets closer and you are planning what that class time should look like, instead of saying, “Lord, what am I going to teach?” …you’ll be able to say “Lord, how do I fit all of these ideas into the lesson?”

Try it – I promise it will work. And as always, if you ever need a teaching idea, I’m just an e-mail away and I’m happy to brainstorm with you! I’d better let you go – some of you need to start studying!

Be blessed,
Jamie

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Last night we held our teacher training night (we do this once every 2 months) we come together and I endeavor to teach on 1-2 topics that could help a teacher be better equipped in his/her classroom or service. Last night, I focused on discipline in the classroom and some practical teaching tips. For my session on discipline, I decided to get another “specialist’s” thoughts and perspective. The one and only Joe McAlpine Skyped in and presented about a 20 minute talk on discipline in KidMin settings. Our team of 28 loved it! (We even got treated to an extra special guest, David, Joe’s 4 year old son made a sudden appearance – spider-man hat and all!) I appreciated Joe’s willingness to give up some time and give his thoughts and perspective.

Now less then a year ago, Joe (who teamed up with Terry Cuthbertson) hosted a conference in which they had me Skype in for a session (which I was honored to do)

Most of what Joe talked about were things that I could have said. But, there’s just something about bringing in a guest who is perceived as a “specialist” The percepting is funny: “This guy is from the other side of the country, he obviously knows what he’s talking about…”

I also think it’s just a good idea to bring in a new face and a different voice from time to time. So, here’s what I got to thinking: I’m willing to give up a few minutes once in a while to help a fellow KidMin pastor/leader with a training session via Skype. And I’m guessing some of you are too. I mean, it’s not difficult to set up and your team will feel like they are getting a “specialist’s” perspective. Start a pool of KidMin Leaders in your network of friends that are willing to give up a few minutes once in a while to Skype in (iChat/Tokbox/etc) to KidMin Training times.

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Fine Tune Your Ability to Create the Experiences

Whether you choose to use Gospel Magic or not, there are some things you should be doing in any creative presentation method that will help you to create an experience with your class or audience:

Self Evaluation

As you tweak your routines or put the finishing touches on a prop; ask yourself:

  • How am I creating an experience for my audience?
  • What else can I do to add that little extra ‘whoa’ in the moments that I’m with them?
  • What will these kids talk about when they leave?
  • What am I doing to advance my skills as a performer/presenter and ‘experience creator’ so my program stands out?  And not just from others… but, from the last ‘experience’?

Be Willing To Face Evaluation From Others

These are vital questions – and they need to be answered if you plan on succeeding as a performer/presenter.  No question about it, you’re going to have to subject yourself to criticism and evaluation.  Find a coach or several coaches whom you will allow to freely comment on your presentation.  Record yourself on video and invite those who are already successful in the realm of children’s ministry presentation to view your presentation(s)… they can help you.  Invite also, those who are trained and seasoned in drama and theater to view your presentations and get their insight.

You Have The Potential To Be Amazing

If you love what you do… kids will love you, you will feel very fulfilled at what you’re doing.  Put that all together and you’ll be at your best as a presenter.  And when you’re at your best – it will show up in your presentations- therefore, it will help you to create a stronger experience.

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That’s right, I’m having a ONE day sale starting TODAYFriday, November 19, 2010.

Here’s the deal.  You’ll get 7 of my ebooks for only $14.00. READ THAT AGAIN!

If you were to buy these seperately from my online bookstore, you’d pay $50.00

Why in the world would I do this? I’m a generous guy I guess… but here’s the deal:  The sale ends at midnight tonight (Mountain Standard Time -USA)

The Titles include:

  • Adding Flash To Your Lessons Vol. 1 & 2
  • Incredible Object Lesons
  • MORE Incredible Object Lessons
  • EVEN MORE Incredible Object Lessons
  • Teaching Kids To Give Vol. 1
  • Teaching Kids To Give Vol. 2

So, here’s what you need to do.

  1. Use paypal.com and send $14.00 (USD) to the e-mail address: pastorjamiedoyle@gmail.com
  2. In the “E-mail the Recipient ” section, put ebook deal in the Subject Line
  3. Put your e-mail address in the Message field
  4. When I see you’re funds have been sent, I’ll send you an e-mail with a link along with a password to download each book. (once you reeceive the link and password, you’ll have until Thanksgiving to download the books.  After that, the links will be inactive)

You can go to my online bookstore to read descriptions and even see samples of each book – BUT REMEMBER – this deal is NOT AVAILABLE at my online bookstore.

HAPPY SHOPPING!

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Anticipation – Create It… Maintain It… Satisfy It.

I believe in the old education model.  I believe you can use it in your #KidMin services to create, build and satisfy anticipation.  What is the old education model?  I’m glad you asked!  Here’s what it looks like:

• Tell them what are going to teach them

• Teach it to them

• Tell them what you just taught them

Notice that you’re doing the same thing over and over again.  It’s called repetition.

And believe it or not, repetition works.  And believe it or not, repetition works.  And believe it or not… you get the point.

You’re doing the same thing over and over again, you’re just going to do it in a different way.  Throughout, you’ve got to have anticipation that will keep kids on the edge of their seats.  Here’s how to use the old education model to create, keep and satisfy anticipation:

Tell them what are going to teach them –

This is the icebreaker/opener that introduces kids to the lesson or topic.  In this moment that happens at the beginning, you’re going to introduce a problem, dilemma, big question, challenge or a cliffhanger that you can refer back to throughout the service.  Here’s an example:  You have a character named Herman enter with a bottle of mustard.  He says that he’s going to: “…teach that guy a lesson by squirting mustard all over his new bike!” You attempt to talk him out of it but he won’t listen.  He leaves angrier then when he entered.  You tell the audience of children that today would be a good day to talk about “Revenge: what does God say about it?”  Go into a scripture memory game.  You’ve just created a cliff-hanger that kids will want to know what happens.  You’ve created ANTICIPATION

Read more over at CMConnect.org

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Yes my #kidmin friends, it’s true: I have posted a free Easter object lesson over at the online bookstore.  It’s a chemical-science-amazing-fun kinda thing. The lesson is from my book “More Incredible Object Lessons”.  And all I am asking is that you take the free lesson and consider purchasing something else at the bookstore.  Are you assuming that this is a shameless plug for my resources?  Yes! It’s a shameless plug for my resources.  I don’t do it very often – this is why I feel no shame.

You can get to the online bookstore here – thanks for your support!

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