I’ve recently decided (after years of presenting Biblical Truths to children) that learning to present an object lesson effectively is one of the “Great Equalizers” in presentation-based children’s ministries. (One of the other ones is: effective storytelling… but, that’s for another post).
I love puppetry, ventriloquism, magic tricks, juggling, cartooning, crazy characters, etc.
If you want to learn more about a great organization that promotes and trains people to do those things, go to FCM.org
To find resources related to using magic tricks, try my resources at jamiedoylemagic.com
However, I’ve also come to realize that not every presenter at our various church locations has an interest in pursuing these various illustrative methods. But, if they can learn to effectively present an object lesson, they will elevate the experience for the children in the audience.
With that said, here are a few things YOU can do to help you better present an object lesson:
- KNOW WHAT you are going to say: Script it out… even just bullet points
- DO something with the Object/Prop —OR— Demonstrate what it does
- INVITE a volunteer or volunteers to use the Object/Prop if it’s appropriate
- Have a PLACE it starts so it’s hidden to begin with – This creates surprise
- Have a PLACE it goes to once you’re done – Sometimes its goes back to being hidden and sometimes it stays on display so you can refer back to it
- SIZE and COLOR… Make sure it can be seen and understood when viewed
- MUSIC in the background can help carry the message and create atmosphere
So… what else would you add to this list?
Have you ever wished you had that one new THING, believing it would improve your presentation?
Don’t fall for it! We all love new gadgets, props and things that can be used in a presentation, performance or ministry setting. Try these ideas first and let me know how it goes:
- Pray beforehand.
- Study so you’ll know what you’re talking about.
- Have a plan —When you don’t, they do.
- Meet the audiences’ level of intensity… and then, go beyond it.
- Be animated with your body movements: fill the space around you.
- Be animated with your voice: pace, volume, intensity, tone.
- Make eye-contact.
- Get kids to respond verbally: cheering, sound effects, call and response.
- Get kids to respond physically: standing, sitting, hand motions, moving around the room.
- Use kid-volunteers to help you: to hold props, become instant actors/actresses, to be interviewed.
- Use the names of the children present in the room while presenting.
- Use audio: background music, sound effects, popular song segments.
- Use lighting: adjust the brightness and color.
- Demonstrate a talent, ability or skill that fits the presentation.
- Prearrange for guests (kids, teens and adults) with special talents to be part of the presentation.
- Teach like Jesus (like one who has authority).
What other tips would you add?
Children in our churches are becoming increasingly unlearned as far as the Bible is concerned.
I hear many KidMin Leaders complain about the problem — mainly because there is no starting point. I have taken that as a personal mission to do whatever I can to become part of the solution. Here are a few of my ideas. Adopt any or all at your discretion:
- Encourage kids to bring a Bible with them to church – offer points for attendance and when they bring their Bibles with them.
- Take time to look up key verses, passages and stories during large group and small group times.
- If necessary, instruct the children in HOW to find verses, passages and stories in their own Bibles.
- Have good old Sword Drills — trust me: children still love the challenge!
- Carry a Bible with you when you teach and preach. Open it, motion to it, make it a symbol of significance.
- Have several sources for parents who want to get their child their own Bible.
- Take a year and teach the significant stories through the Bible — example: we taught on the Old Testament for September, October & November; December we taught all about the Christmas story; January, February, we are learning about the miracles of Jesus; March is all about some popular parables of Jesus; April will be the Easter story and May will focus on the early church.
- Do a series on the importance of God’s Word, how we got the Bible and all the amazing facts about it.
- Give parents a reading plan they can follow with their children.
- Have a memory verse challenge where there are incentives for memorizing scripture.
- Play memory verse games during your classes and services – share those ideas with parents so they can play the games at home.
- Use music and songs for your worship time that are based on scripture.
What would you add?
Comment below and let us know how you engage kids in the greatest resource available to them.
Yes… I’m trying to sound smart.
The word “philosophy” conjures up images of intelligent, well-educated people having deep discussions to better understand the meaning of life. Let me be clear: I want to make sure the people in my church better understand ministry to children. So, I developed this philosophy of ministry to articulate why we do what we do:
Welcome to, our Children’s Ministry Program for ages birth – 5th grade. Around her, we take children and ministering to them very seriously. We know that children are the church of tomorrow, but they are also the church of today. That’s what our Children’s Ministry is all about – training kids now!
The Children’s Ministries is set-up as one department, allowing us to develop and maintain a consistent flow of ministry with our church from ages birth – 5th grade. Each level builds and prepares young people for the next step. We want to teach the Word of God to every age group at their own level, while preparing them for the next class and a lifetime of service for our Lord.
By presenting the Word of God to children in an exciting way that they can understand, and by leading them into a relationship with Jesus, there can be a generation that grows up loving God with all their heart.
But, the Children’s Ministry Staff can’t accomplish this alone! We want to champion YOU: THE PARENT… Each week in our E-newsletter, we will have important information that they have learned at church. Take time during the week to instill these concepts in your child. And then take time to show them how to apply these ideas to everyday life. You will not only grow closer as a family, but you will see your child become spiritually stronger!
This information is included in our parents’ information brochure and will grace the WWW on our church’s website. It’s also something that our entire children’s ministry team understands… we constantly keep it in front of them. If this helps you, use some of the content to create your own.
When children walk into your ministry area, you should be the most exciting, most encouraging, most “want-to-be-around” person they encounter!
Here are a few things you can do to make a child’s day in your KidMin:
- Smile at them and let your eyes light up when you see them
- Look them in the eyes when you talk with them
- Talk TO and WITH them… Not DOWN at them
- Be super interested in any news they share with you (remember: it’s a big deal to have a loose or missing tooth, a new haircut, new shoes, a new stuffed animal, etc).
- Notice and point out their shoes – trust me on this one
- Shake their hand – they think this is very grown-up
- Engage in any activity they are doing and have fun while doing it
- Publicly “Catch” them behaving during class and compliment them
- Always call any prizes you are going to give away: “Mine” and “My” as in: who is going to win “my candy bar?”
- If they tell you sad news, pray with them… right then and there
- Offer to thumb-wrestle any of them for a best 2 out of 3
The list is incomplete… obviously!
What would you add to it?
Back in June we began to pray about an opportunity to take on a Children’s Pastor position at a church. After talking it over as a family, lots of prayer and a visit to that church, I’m happy to announce that we are now the Children’s Ministry Pastor family at First Assembly Community Ministries in Lafayette, IN.
It’s an exciting time as we are just now evaluating the Children’s Ministry and dreaming about the future… along with unpacking a house and trying to get all of my resources to fit in my new office.
I’ll continue my series on “Making Children’s Church Better” as we engage in this new setting. So stay tuned!
I’ve taught a lot over the years on the structure of a children’s church.
I believe in it! It’s a place where kids are gathered corporately and worship, learn and fellowship. Those of you who have a Large Group/Small Group format can still benefit from this information as well as those who have a major emphasis on a children’s worship service – AKA: Children’s Church.
One day, while studying to teach on this topic once again at a conference, I realized that the children’s church service was a hybrid of several models. The Children’s Church has mix of the following elements:
Here are the three models:
The Education Class Model –
This model has been used for years and is like a mantra to classic and succesful educators:
- Tell them what are going to teach them – this is the icebreaker/opener that introduces kids to the lesson.
- Teach it to them – teach them using all the fun methods that you use.
- Tell them what you just taught them – review games and follow-up moments at the end of service (take-home papers or bulletins could also fit this heading).
The vaudeville Show Model –
I came across this a few years back after watching Duane Laflin speak about the psychological needs of an audience:
- Excitement – something that gets the show/service off to a fun and exciting start
- Introduction – welcoming the audience and helping them to feel comfortable with being there
- Identification – showing in an exciting way why you are all together or, preview your lesson
- Involvement – get the audience engaged… Invite people to participate – both corporately as well as individuals… Every kid wants to help
- Solid Content – This was the feature act – teach the “meat” of the lesson
- Confirmation – give the audience a chance to respond and let them leave feeling positive about what they just experienced – like an altar call, and a review. The kids should leave with a sense that they can put what you just taught them into practice.
The Intensity Model of a Children’s Ministry Setting –
I’ve used this for years to help structure how a childrne’s church should look:
- Kids are excited, rowdy and silly at the beginning of a class – match that with some controlled chaos… Fun games, exciting songs, silly or funny characters.
- About half way to two-thirds thru the class time is when the kids are at their most attentive – teach the most important things during this window… The main sermon, prayer time, worship times.
- As the class comes to a close, the kids will start to get rowdy again, so end with excitement elements… Review games, songs that relate to the topic, funny characters who need help from the kids in reviewing the lesson.
I hope you can see how each of these models kind of “morphs” together to create a good structure for a children’s church setting.
I 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